If your religion or spirituality is highly important to you, then you may be hesitant to go to a psychologist for counseling. You may believe that you should seek emotional and spiritual strength solely through your religion and that going to a secular counselor is somehow a betrayal of your belief system. However, a secular psychologist can assist you with many emotional and mental issues, which can leave you free to explore your religion more deeply and honestly. Below are a few tips for integrating adult counseling and religion so you can remain true to your beliefs while getting the psychological help you need.
Consider Finding a Counselor Who Shares Your Faith
Roughly 72% of the general population claims that religion is the most important influence in their lives, while only 33% of clinical psychologists make the same claim. For this reason, it may seem like most secular psychologists do not practice a religion. However, it is possible for you to find a psychologist who shares your faith or who knows the intricacies of your belief system. This can help you feel more comfortable during your therapy sessions and save you from wasting time explaining your belief system to your psychologist.
However, you should keep in mind that receiving counseling from a psychologist who shares your faith is different than receiving counseling from a religious leader of your faith. Your psychologist may support and encourage your faith, but your therapy sessions will likely concentrate on various other tools for self reflection as well.
Talk to Your Religious Leader About Your Need for Therapy
If you are concerned about going to therapy, consider discussing it with your religious leader first. You may be surprised to find out that your religious leader encourages secular counseling. Additionally, your religious leader may have suggestions for local counselors who share your faith or who have successfully treated other members of your congregation.
If your religious leader is not supportive of secular counseling, you may want to compare their views with the ideas of leaders of your faith from other regions or consult your religious text. You may find that secular counseling works well with your religion despite your religious leader's views, or you may decide to seek religious counseling instead.
Don't Be Shy About Discussing Your Religion During Therapy
Many counselors realize that religion and spirituality is a highly personal issue. For this reason, they will often not bring up the topic of religion or spirituality if they think it will make you feel uncomfortable or threatened during your therapy sessions. However, if your religion affects many areas of your life, it is likely important that you discuss it with your counselor. You should feel free to bring up your religious beliefs and experiences when you feel they are relevant to your counseling session. If you feel comfortable, you may find that questioning your belief system with the help of a therapist can strengthen your spirituality while helping you emotionally and mentally.
Make Sure You Find a Supportive Group
If you will be engaging in group counseling sessions, it is important that you find a group that is accepting and/or supportive of your religion. If you are concerned, you should discuss your religion with the counselor in charge of the group before you join to make sure that the people in the group will be accepting of you and your religious beliefs. You may decide that you want to join a group session with people of a similar faith.
For some people, going to a secular counselor may feel strange at first. However, if you find a counselor who is supportive of your faith, there is no reason why you cannot integrate secular counseling with your religious beliefs.