The professional counselor can therapeutically apply theory and current research supporting the inclusion of a client’s spiritual and/or religious perspectives and practices.

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 Fourteen

This week on the VA-ASERVIC resources page, we discuss ASERVIC Competency 14 and address the importance of including theory and research in the counseling session with our clients.

Previously, we’ve discussed many aspects of the spiritual and religious integration process including the counselor’s limitations, attitude of acceptance, clinician’s choice of language, recognizing spiritual themes, intake, diagnosis, and counseling techniques. Competency 14 – application of spiritual and religious integration theory and research rounds out the spiritual competencies, as it is the last on our list.

“…apply theory and current research…”

– ASERVIC Competency 14

One aspect of the counselor’s identity that is unique to our profession is the aspect of the counselor as a researching practitioner. While counselors are not inherently researchers as psychologists, biologists, or paleontologists are, by nature of the field, they must do some form of research to best serve their clients.

While not every counselor will also perform his or her own research, in order to provide the must up-to-date and evidenced-based client care, counselor’s must be active in reading available research at the minimum. By remaining active in the research scene in this manner, counselors can understand which techniques are statistically significantly helpful to clients and learn to integrate these techniques into the counseling session.

The integration of spiritual and religious values in the counseling session is no different than the integration of other research and theory based content. ASERVIC Competency 14 requires that counselors apply current theory and research that supports the client-specific religious and spiritual beliefs and practices.

Working with Clients

Adherence to ASERVIC Competency 14 truly begins outside of the counseling session. While you might be required to apply research and theory during session, in order to know what to use, you must become knowledgeable ahead of time.

One way you might consider applying Competency 14 is through regular access and viewing of online scholarly journals in spirituality and religion in counseling. Some suggested periodicals include the Journal of Spirituality in Mental Health, and the Mental Health, Religion & Culture Journal.

An additional method to obtaining up-to-date research and theory is by joining professional organizations such as your local, state, or national associations. As VA-ASERVIC, we’re specifically partial to the Virginia Counselors Association and the Association for Spiritual, Ethical, and Religious Values in Counseling. In addition to VA-ASERVIC, these participation in these professional organizations allows you as a counseling professional the opportunity to interact up-close with new theoretical, primary, and secondary research studies and techniques.

As a clinician actively involved in spiritual, religious, and ethics research, you will be better equipped and more familiar with appropriate applications of the client’s spiritual and religious practices and perspectives. Remember to use these in the counseling session with your clients!

What Steps Have You Taken?

What opportunities have you pursued to meet ASERVIC Competency Fouteen?

  • Are you a part of any professional organizations? Do you have access to, or regularly read professional journals in this field?
  • Can you confidently apply the theory and research that you have recently learned about during your counseling sessions?

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.

ASERVIC Competencies Series: Competency 11

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.


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