When making a diagnosis, the professional counselor recognizes that the client’s spiritual and/or religious perspectives can a) enhance well-being; b) contribute to client problems; and/or c) exacerbate symptoms.

For more information on the ASERVIC Spiritual Competencies, visit the ASERVIC Website.

Visit these websites for more information on the American Counseling Association or the Virginia Counselor’s Association.

Competency Eleven

This week, we focus on ASERVIC Competency 11: diagnostic planning. Throughout the past ten competencies, we’ve discussed how a client’s spirituality, religion, and ethical values can affect the counseling process, specifically in all areas, from intake to termination. One of the more controversial parts of the counseling process – diagnosis – is no different.

According to ASERVIC Competency 11, the client’s diagnosis can be affected by his or her spiritual and religious beliefs. These beliefs and values can have a positive, negative, or neutral effect on the client and can, “enhance well-being; contribute to client problems; and/or exacerbate symptoms”.

When making a diagnosis…”

– ASERVIC Competency Eleven

The counseling professional must be aware of these effects on client functioning and diagnose accordingly. Competency 11 demonstrates the importance of a thorough intake process (Competency ten), as only understanding the clients’ spirituality and religious views from their perspectives will yield an accurate picture during the diagnostic process.

Working with Clients

When beginning the diagnosis and treatment planning process with the client, consider what role their spiritual, religious, and ethical views are playing in the big picture.

Do their views have a direct impact on functioning, or take more of a “back seat”? What connections have they already identified for you about the reasoning for their behaviors and core beliefs?

Using the information you’ve gathered during the intake process and subsequent sessions, strive to understand the client accurately in light of their beliefs.

Some beliefs might increase symptomology or perpetuate the concerns you are both addressing in the counseling session and might need to be addressed in an appropriate manner. However, some beliefs might be helping your clients cope with stressful experiences, engage in an existential purpose, or promote community and positive relationships.

Work with your client to best understand their spiritual and/or religious worldview, so that you might better be able to diagnose in light of their beliefs.

What Steps Have You Taken?

What opportunities have you pursued to meet ASERVIC Competency Eleven?

  • Have you considered your clients’ worldviews prior to the diagnostic stages of their counseling?
  • What might you need to prepare to address during the next stage of treatment planning?

If not, check out some of these resources from the American Counseling Association or get involved with ASERVIC or VA-ASERVIC via membership and events.

More from VA-ASERVIC:

Want to read from the beginning? Check out ASERVIC Competencies Series: Competency One!

ASERVIC Competencies Series: Competency 13

This week, we discuss competency 13, which addresses the specific techniques used within the counseling session. Previously, we have discussed the counselor’s limitations, attitude of acceptance, clinician’s choice of language, recognizing spiritual themes, intake, and diagnosis, but today we get to the meat of the spirituality subject – counseling techniques.

ASERVIC Competencies Series: Competency 12

As we discussed in previous weeks, the client’s spiritual and religious beliefs can directly impact the pieces of the counseling process, such as the intake session, counseling rapport, and diagnosis. ASERVIC Competency 12 addresses how the client’s spiritual and religious beliefs should also affect the goals that the client wants to address.


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