Response to a discussion thread on the value of addressing spirituality in counseling in Research Gate
“The reality is that we all live in a world of uncertainty and unknown reality from existential perspectives. Meaning that we cannot predict future events with absolute certainty, and we have no knowledge or verified information as to what happens when we die, as our mind that integrates our conscious information, as a function of body, ceases to exist when our body dies. Many people believe that mind is a part of greater entity, soul, that continues to exist in another form of reality, and they find comfort in the belief of all knowing God, as a Supreme entity . But that is a faith based belief not subject to scientific or clinical investigation, Science, also in a way informs us that with Sun moving at approximately 118 miles per second around the Galactic center takes nearly 240 million years to complete a circle, and that no human being or the human race has ever experienced what the next second of existence of our Sun and the Earth will be. So in a way, it confirms the basic Uncertainty of our living existence. It is in this context that people have come to believe in spiritual values and religious faiths, and they all symbolically address human yearnings to understand and deal with Uncertainties of living.
All human beings, therapists and clients, have this existential uncertainty, and therapist should engage in discussion of these issues, if and when they surface in communication, highlighting Existential Mystery, and affirming some sense of connection for clients to the rest of the human race. This acknowledgement and respect of different peoples beliefs in faiths and religious or spiritual values, help the therapeutic dialogue to move on to what the present issues of coping with one’s psychological issues or problems are, but also help therapist to stimulate and explore client’s intact capacity for adaptive reasoning and thinking, fostering in client a sense of well being and how to use positive re directional strategies and engagement in “positively valued” activities to desist from engaging in “negatively valued” activities. We have outlined some of the strategies in our recently published collaborative book: Mind Stimulation Therapy: Cognitive Intervention for Persons with Schizophrenia (Ahmed and Boisvert). I have also started a Blog on existential thoughts and perspectives.
So my take on this issue is when religious faiths and spiritual beliefs are brought into therapeutic dialogue, one needs to affirm the universality of such faiths in the context of coping with Uncertainties of living, and acknowledging acceptance of the Universal Mystery as part of our living existence, while mindful that rational discourse on the issue is not possible, but symbolic interpretations are. Use the discussion as long as it promotes client’s well being, reducing client’s stress and agitation and increasing his sense of contentment and motivation for productive change. Here clinical judgment needs to come into play as to determining how far to go.”