You are on page 1of 3

The integration of spirituality and religion emerged in the mid-1990s and has continued

to become a topic of intrigue and study well into the 21st century. While many psychologists,
pastors and researchers have made great strides and contributions towards the integration of faith
and psychology, Stephen Parker, in his article on the use of spirituality in the counseling session
draws from the work of one theory in particular, James Fowlers Faith Development Theory
(FDT). Parker reviewed Fowlers seven stages of faith development that are believed to occur
over the life span in order to help increase counselor competency in working with spiritual and
religious issues (2011). By identifying and understanding the faith stage in which a client was
in, the counselor was better able to provide adequate spiritual care. Furthermore, Parker notes the
development theory as working on universal structures belonging to all faiths, allowing the
counselor to diagnose and assess the nature and role of a person's faith apart from its specific
beliefs (2011). The article leaves no room for question in whether or not spirituality or religion
has a place in the therapy setting, rather it gives a comprehensive summary of what the counselor
needs to recognize and identify in order for them to provide greater, holistic care to the client.
The American Association of Christian Counselors has built their foundation of Christian
counseling as being a spirit-led process of change, transformation and growth with its main
mission being bringing glory and honor to God (2014). Practicing through faith and values, the
Christian counselor must not ask the question if it is appropriate to use spirituality and religion in
counseling, rather when would it best serve the client, showing the client the love and grace of
Christ Jesus. While it does not implicitly state whether or not counselors may use spirituality and
religion in the counseling setting, the American Counseling Association Code of Ethics does
believe that the counselor has a duty to themselves and their clients to be evaluating their own
spiritual and religious development, as well as that of their client (2014). Adhering to the

fundamental principles of ethical behavior: autonomy, nonmaleficence, beneficence, justice,


fidelity and veracity, the American Counseling Association seeks to provide care in line with the
clients circumstances through use of their faith, religious and spiritual backgrounds as
appropriate (2014).
2 Peter 3:18 states, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus
Christ (ESV). Before a counselor can provide use spirituality and religion in the counseling
setting, they must first understand and acknowledge their own beliefs and spiritual development.
A spiritually immature counselor will not be able to provide sound, spiritual care to their client
and must seek to be consistently growing in their walk with the Lord. By asking a client where
they find their hope and strength in times of trouble or distress, the counselor is opening the door
for allowing the client to discuss spirituality or religion. The counselor then has the opportunity
to see where the client may stand in their faith and spirituality, their religious beliefs, and if they
believe it will play a role in their recovery. The Christian Counselor has a responsibility to
integrate spirituality as appropriate in order to show the client the love of Christ.
As Ephesians 4:15-16 states, rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way
into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by
every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow
so that it builds itself up in love (ESV).
References
ACA Code of Ethics. (2014) Retrieved from https://www.counseling.org/resources/aca-code-ofethics.pdf
American Association of Christian Counselors. (2014.). Retrieved from http://aacc.net/
Ephesians 4:15-16, ESV.

Parker, S. (2011). Spirituality in Counseling: A Faith Development Perspective. Journal of


Counseling & Development, 89(1), 112-119. doi:10.1002/j.1556-6678.2011.tb00067.x
2 Peter 3:18, ESV.