Incorporating the Sacred in Counselling

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444). This special issue belongs to the section "Religions and Health/Psychology/Social Sciences".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 June 2023) | Viewed by 35151

Special Issue Editor


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Guest Editor
McMaster Divinity College, University in Hamilton, Hamilton, ON L8S 4K1, Canada
Interests: the interface of religion and spirituality with the practices of counselling and psychotherapy; the formation and maintenance of the therapeutic alliance; client receptivity to therapeutic interventions (e.g., therapeutic fit)

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue aims to draw together current thinking and research related to the use of R/S interventions by clinicians. The intent of this Special Issue is to extend the professional narrative related to both the theory and practice of incorporating spirituality within therapeutic conversations.

Contributors are invited to approach this topic from at least one of the following perspectives: essays that consider the rationale for employing R/S interventions, within either a secular or religious context, research related to the need for, practice of, and/or perceived benefit or challenges resulting from incorporating spirituality into clinical practice, essays based on the author's critical reflection on practice that speaks to their experiences with this aspect of professional practice, essays based on the author's critical reflection on the challenges of incorporating spirituality into clinical practice when the client and clinician have divergent spiritualities and finally, essays that reflect on the ethics of incorporating the sacred into clinical practice.

Contributions that are representative of any R/S tradition will be considered.

Dr. Kelvin Mutter
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Biopsychosocial-Spiritual Model of Health Care
  • Holistic Care
  • Hope and Well-Being
  • Client Beliefs
  • Mental Health
  • Patient Religiosity and Spirituality
  • Religion
  • Spirituality
  • Therapist Beliefs
  • Counselling
  • Decision Making
  • Ethics, Integration
  • Psychotherapy
  • Social Work Practice
  • Spiritually-Integrated Counselling
  • Spiritually-Integrated Psychotherapy

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Research

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10 pages, 181 KiB  
Article
A Case Study Method for Integrating Spirituality and Narrative Therapy
by Suzanne M. Coyle
Religions 2024, 15(3), 361; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15030361 - 18 Mar 2024
Viewed by 1178
Abstract
Theological/spiritual reflection in psychotherapeutic practice has increased in recent years. Approaches for reflection and integration vary depending on the practitioner’s spiritual and theoretical beliefs. The integrative approach utilized in this paper is derived from a phenomenological perspective of the author, who was schooled [...] Read more.
Theological/spiritual reflection in psychotherapeutic practice has increased in recent years. Approaches for reflection and integration vary depending on the practitioner’s spiritual and theoretical beliefs. The integrative approach utilized in this paper is derived from a phenomenological perspective of the author, who was schooled in pastoral theology and later family therapy. Considering the pastoral theologian Seward Hiltner’s perspectival approach, this integrative approach creates a conversational method, integrating the client’s concerns with specific narrative therapy interventions or practices and the theological/spiritual concepts of immanence–transcendence. Finally, this case study’s methodology offers constructive questions that clinical practitioners can apply to specific psychotherapy approaches as well as theological concepts. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Incorporating the Sacred in Counselling)
17 pages, 321 KiB  
Article
Training Integrated Clinicians by Example: A Practical Call for Ongoing Spiritual Formation and Mentoring amongst Christian Integrative Counseling Faculty
by Haley R. French
Religions 2023, 14(10), 1260; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14101260 - 5 Oct 2023
Viewed by 1711
Abstract
The body of literature on the integration of Christianity and psychology and/or counseling indicates that integration is best learned and taught through spiritual formation and mentoring relationships. More specifically, the ongoing spiritual formation of counseling or psychology faculty in Christian, integrative programs and [...] Read more.
The body of literature on the integration of Christianity and psychology and/or counseling indicates that integration is best learned and taught through spiritual formation and mentoring relationships. More specifically, the ongoing spiritual formation of counseling or psychology faculty in Christian, integrative programs and their ability to mentor students well are significant in shaping the integrative development of those they educate and train, and for ensuring integrative practice. However, what is underexplored in the literature is how faculty members in integrative programs might personally grow and develop in these areas if they are not already in existence or are underemphasized. This article seeks to address this need by providing an overview of practical ways for strengthening the spiritual formation and mentoring opportunities for Christian, integrative faculty, ultimately with the aim of encouraging greater integrative activity in counselors entering the field. Through a review of the pertinent counseling literature, as well as scholarship on spiritual formation, and spiritual formation and mentoring in educational contexts, a summative list of practical strategies is presented. Implications for broader use and application are also discussed, along with potential opportunities for future research. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Incorporating the Sacred in Counselling)
13 pages, 301 KiB  
Article
Exploring Islamic Spiritual Care: What Is in a Name?
by Naveed Baig and Nazila Isgandarova
Religions 2023, 14(10), 1256; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14101256 - 4 Oct 2023
Viewed by 2413
Abstract
At present, there is limited theoretical clarity on the nature of Islamic spiritual care, which is a developing discipline around the world. How it is defined will be instrumental for spiritual care institutions, professionals and recipients of spiritual care in the years to [...] Read more.
At present, there is limited theoretical clarity on the nature of Islamic spiritual care, which is a developing discipline around the world. How it is defined will be instrumental for spiritual care institutions, professionals and recipients of spiritual care in the years to come. This article wishes to understand and explore the idea and vision behind Islamic spiritual care and why this line of investigation may be of importance to care providers with different faith backgrounds. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Incorporating the Sacred in Counselling)
11 pages, 245 KiB  
Article
Thousands of Glittering Shards: Spirituality as Resonance in the Lives of People with Intellectual Disabilities
by Keith Dow
Religions 2023, 14(7), 886; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14070886 - 9 Jul 2023
Viewed by 1377
Abstract
In the Kabbalah creation myth, God creates the universe by “stepping back”, releasing ten holy vessels with his light—only to have those vessels shatter with shards of divine light, or “shards” scattered throughout the earth. In a parallel approach, this paper suggests that [...] Read more.
In the Kabbalah creation myth, God creates the universe by “stepping back”, releasing ten holy vessels with his light—only to have those vessels shatter with shards of divine light, or “shards” scattered throughout the earth. In a parallel approach, this paper suggests that the sacred must be sought in diverse encounters within everyday life and professional practice. In counseling or other therapeutic support, the definition of and search for spiritual dimensions must be broadened to thoughtfully incorporate the diverse experiences and expressions of people with intellectual disabilities. Similarly, those who seek to understand people’s relationship with the divine and support meaning in their lives must welcome a wide range of “artistic” engagements, an approach exemplified in grief and loss intervention. This article concludes by pointing towards resonance as a helpful concept to reconceptualize accessible spirituality in future work. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Incorporating the Sacred in Counselling)
9 pages, 255 KiB  
Article
The Value of Adapting Counseling to Client’s Spirituality and Religion: Evidence-Based Relationship Factors
by Amelia L. Evans and Jennifer Koenig Nelson
Religions 2021, 12(11), 951; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12110951 - 1 Nov 2021
Viewed by 14368
Abstract
There is a strong tradition of attention to relationship factors in the field of counseling. The research on the importance of the relationship and adapting to client factors continues to grow, supporting the importance of professional multicultural competence. The field of counseling, specifically [...] Read more.
There is a strong tradition of attention to relationship factors in the field of counseling. The research on the importance of the relationship and adapting to client factors continues to grow, supporting the importance of professional multicultural competence. The field of counseling, specifically within the United States context, has focused on Multicultural Counseling Competencies with more recent emphasis on social justice through the Multicultural and Social Justice Counseling Competencies. Within these competencies, spirituality and religion are mentioned as multicultural components to consider as potentially salient to clients. Yet, there has been less emphasis on ways to adapt counseling to a client’s spirituality and religion compared to other multicultural components of one’s identity, such as race, gender, and culture. Historically, a lack of training, fear of causing offense, or concerns about influencing clients, resulted in clients’ spirituality and religion being overlooked far too often in counseling. Despite this tendency, recent clinical evidence on relational responsiveness identifies the adaptation of counseling to a client’s spirituality and religion as highly effective. In this article, the authors discuss how adapting counseling to a client’s spirituality and religion, in relation to all multicultural factors salient to the client, enhances relational responsiveness and treatment effectiveness. The authors also discuss the implications for training, supervision, and practice. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Incorporating the Sacred in Counselling)
10 pages, 252 KiB  
Article
Spiritual and Religious Support for Underrepresented First-Generation, Low-Income (UFGLI) Students
by Elliott Ingersoll, Sophia Elliott and Stephanie Drcar
Religions 2021, 12(7), 548; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12070548 - 19 Jul 2021
Viewed by 2546
Abstract
UFGLI students comprise 34% of the students enrolled in four-year universities. Unlike some students, UFGLI students face internal and systemic barriers throughout their educational experience and their struggles are often dismissed and disregarded. Working and raising a family while taking courses, minimal support [...] Read more.
UFGLI students comprise 34% of the students enrolled in four-year universities. Unlike some students, UFGLI students face internal and systemic barriers throughout their educational experience and their struggles are often dismissed and disregarded. Working and raising a family while taking courses, minimal support systems, and financial struggles require students to optimize their resources. We explore the issues of UFGLI students and the importance of their spiritual and religious supports using a literature review and a case study. Religious and spiritual identities are resources that should be explored and supported by staff at university counselling centers. Affirming UFGLI students’ religious and spiritual identities and understanding how religion and spirituality work in their lives can assist these students in their acclimation to and success at university. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Incorporating the Sacred in Counselling)
14 pages, 296 KiB  
Article
Co-Creating Authentic Sacred Therapeutic Space: A Spiritually Sensitive Framework for Counselling Children
by Heather M. Boynton and Christie Mellan
Religions 2021, 12(7), 524; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12070524 - 12 Jul 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 3971
Abstract
Social work values client-centered holistic approaches of care, yet there is a lack of approaches addressing spirituality in counselling with children. Children’s spirituality and conceptualization have been disenfranchised. Children’s spiritual experiences, ways of knowing and perceptions are important to attend to when supporting [...] Read more.
Social work values client-centered holistic approaches of care, yet there is a lack of approaches addressing spirituality in counselling with children. Children’s spirituality and conceptualization have been disenfranchised. Children’s spiritual experiences, ways of knowing and perceptions are important to attend to when supporting them through an impactful life event such as trauma, grief, or loss (TGL). Parents may not fully understand or have the capacity to attend to their child’s spirituality. Counsellors appear to lack knowledge and training to attend to the spiritual needs and capacities of children. This article offers some research findings of children’s spirituality deemed to be vital for healing from TGL and counselling. It provides an understanding of some of the constructs and isolating processes described by children, parents and counsellors related to children’s spirituality in TGL. It also will present a spiritually sensitive framework specifically attuned to the spiritual dimension and creating spaces of safety and hope when working with children. The implications of not addressing the critical spiritual dimensions in practice for children are discussed, and recommendations for continued research and training for further theoretical development and future social work practice are offered. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Incorporating the Sacred in Counselling)
15 pages, 289 KiB  
Article
Child Traumatic Stress and the Sacred: Neurobiologically Informed Interventions for Therapists and Parents
by Joseph E. De Luna and David C. Wang
Religions 2021, 12(3), 163; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12030163 - 3 Mar 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 4427
Abstract
Children experience trauma and adverse experiences at an alarming rate. The negative impact of traumatic experiences on a child’s developing brain is pervasive, adversely affecting one’s thoughts, feelings, behaviors, physiological reactions, and social relationships. Conversely, the nature, pattern, timing and duration of therapeutic [...] Read more.
Children experience trauma and adverse experiences at an alarming rate. The negative impact of traumatic experiences on a child’s developing brain is pervasive, adversely affecting one’s thoughts, feelings, behaviors, physiological reactions, and social relationships. Conversely, the nature, pattern, timing and duration of therapeutic experiences can change the brain in ways that support and cultivate therapeutic growth and healing. The purpose of this paper will be to review and expand on two prominent neurobiological therapeutic frameworks within the field of child trauma therapy: the Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics and Interpersonal Neurobiology. We will discuss the ways in which trauma experiences are organized in the brain and how therapeutic and parenting interventions can address the key areas of the brain that are impacted. Further, this paper will expand on these frameworks to explore how the sacred (within primarily a Judeo-Christian monotheistic religious tradition) can be integrated within the therapeutic process—specifically through the themes of safety, relational connection, and meaning-making. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Incorporating the Sacred in Counselling)

Review

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18 pages, 423 KiB  
Review
After-Death Communication: Issues of Nondisclosure and Implications for Treatment
by Kathleen C. Pait, Julie J. Exline, Kenneth I. Pargament and Peri Zarrella
Religions 2023, 14(8), 985; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14080985 - 30 Jul 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1734
Abstract
After-death communication (ADC) is the phenomenon of perceiving spontaneous and direct contact by a deceased loved one. Evidence suggests that ADC is a widespread human experience, particularly for bereaved individuals. Many people who have ADCs report them to be comforting, suggesting therapeutic potential. [...] Read more.
After-death communication (ADC) is the phenomenon of perceiving spontaneous and direct contact by a deceased loved one. Evidence suggests that ADC is a widespread human experience, particularly for bereaved individuals. Many people who have ADCs report them to be comforting, suggesting therapeutic potential. However, many individuals in Western cultures choose not to disclose their ADCs to mental health providers, citing fears of pathologization, disenfranchisement due to gender expectations, negative ADC encounters, or minimization by clinicians. For others, ADCs are deeply personal and people may keep the experiences to themselves for fear that providers might explain the ADCs away by framing them in purely psychological terms. As such, there is a paucity of literature on how therapists should best approach the topic of ADC with clients. The following narrative review offers clinical interview and assessment strategies from theoretical papers and empirical studies to guide this process. Clinicians are encouraged to self-reflect on their natural inclinations around ADC, assess general psychological functioning, normalize and validate the ADC experience, assess client feelings and explanations, and inquire about spiritual beliefs. Clinicians can also help clients to explore the meaning and personal significance of their ADCs as well as clients’ perceived relationships with the deceased. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Incorporating the Sacred in Counselling)
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