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FAITH-BASED COUNSELING A presentation on the aspect of faith in rehabilitation. A presentation by Shane McNear

What is Faith-based Counseling?: 

What is Faith-based Counseling? “The spiritual realm can be like a never-ending resource of water for our clients that can assist them in wearing down the stones in their lives” (Miller 2003 pg. 23). The rehabilitation process involves providing the client with all aspects of care. And if the religious aspect may help them, we are obligated to provide them with that resource.

So What is Faith/Spirituality You Ask? : 

So What is Faith/Spirituality You Ask? Faith: “Belief and trust in and loyalty to God” (Merriam Webster Online 2005). Spirituality: “Sensitivity or attachment to religious values” (Merriam Webster 2005). Which definition would you use for professional use?

Creating a Spiritual Environment: 

Creating a Spiritual Environment Discuss the idea with your agency. Ask questions like: ““What are the formal agency policies regarding the discussion of the spiritual or religious realm in counseling?”

Spiritual Environment Con’t.: 

Spiritual Environment Con’t. Materials can be used to help clients create their own spiritual environment. . . The Bible Prayer Meditation Fellowship Devotions


Transference/Counter-transference Clients may have different views than their counselor. Clients may have no views at all and be somewhat “isolationist” to the idea of faith. Counselors may have different views than their clients.

Transferences Con’t.: 

Transferences Con’t. Clients may only receive religious dialogue from certain religious leaders. “Unfortunately it is not easy to keep these role boundaries clear because there is considerable overlap between the roles and functions that each profession fulfills” (Bergin and Richards pp. 149).

How do we avoid these issues?: 

How do we avoid these issues? “An assessment of clients’ religious and spiritual background, beliefs, and lifestyle is essential if therapists are to succeed at this challenging task” (Bergin and Richards pp. 173). Seek supervision when first starting to deliver faith-based counseling. Study the psychology and sociology of religion in mainstream, and world religion. Attend workshops and classes on religion and mental health. Assess your own values and beliefs before starting.

Secular Counseling Barriers: 

Secular Counseling Barriers Some claim it is “unscientific” Dual relationships Church vs. State Issues of a counselors competency may come into question. “Some of the ethical dangers that are discussed are more likely to be of concern when therapists are working with clients from religious traditions other than their own” (Bergin and Richards pp. 168).

Secular Counseling Comparisons: 

Secular Counseling Comparisons Faith and counseling look to better a persons life. Clients are still getting their needs met. Similar suggestions may be made.

So How Does Faith Help People Heal?: 

So How Does Faith Help People Heal? Faith can provide a refuge for the client in times of stress or distress. With regard to fellowship: “Strengthens the client spiritually when their faith is weak.” “Teaches clients to be unselfish and loving.” “Helps clients feel a sense of belonging and social acceptance.” “Provides extra help in coping with stress, death, disease, and trauma” (Bergin and Richards 1997 pp. 218).

Some Key Points: 

Some Key Points Discuss it with the agency. Assess the client’s feelings about faith. Don’t force it. Encourage their spiritual environment. Discuss the benefits of including faith in their lives (i.e. fellowship, healing). Be aware of transferences.

In Conclusion. . .: 

In Conclusion. . . Faith-based counseling incorporates a client’s faith into his or her counseling. It is discussed, and used when accepted. It is not forced upon the client. It is used as a resource and a tool to better their lives, and get the results from counseling that they are looking for.


References Merriam-Webster Online. (2005). Search: Faith. Retrieved on January 26, 2005 from Miller, Geri. (2003). Incorporating Spirituality in Counseling and Psychotherapy: Theory and Technique. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons Inc. Richards, P.S. & Bergin, A.E. (1997). A Spiritual Strategy for Counseling and Psychotherapy. Washington D.C.: American Psychological Association.

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