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Starting to heal from the soul instead of the mind is what’s called ‘Spiritual Counseling’. Spiritual counseling often takes belief systems, universal and personal energy systems, subconscious and superconscious states of awareness. Along with spiritual awareness, spiritual theology, spiritual presence and higher-self cosmic connections into account and works from the inside to the outside, from the soul to the mind.

Spiritual counseling and spirituality

What is spiritual counseling?

Spiritual counseling is a comparatively modern form of counseling, also known as spiritual therapy, which incorporates spirituality into an individual’s treatment. While spirituality itself is the quality of concerning oneself with the human soul as opposed to material things, spiritual counseling does take a different route than the conventional form of therapy.

Spiritual wellness helps create a balance of overall health and the quality of life. By believing in a power greater than oneself, it becomes easier to respond to, and find a greater meaning to life and life’s actions. Some people connect spirituality with their religion but spirituality can look in different directions.

Spirituality and counseling

Earlier, spirituality and therapy were considered two different entities. However recent researches and observations say otherwise. Spirituality and counseling now go hand in hand considering the effect it has on various individual who struggle with inner peace and a connection to a greater power.

Spiritual counseling does fall under the category of psychotherapy and it also involves talking to a qualified mental health professional. The techniques and methods might differ from conventional therapy but will surely help an individual to recover a sense of meaning in life and will help to explore the spiritual beliefs. While conventional therapy is usually limited by science, spiritual counseling includes a trust in the higher power for its approach.

Spirituality and religiousness

How is spirituality different from religiousness?

Spirituality and religiousness go hand in hand but are two different things in reality. A person who is spiritual may or may not have a particular religion to follow. Spirituality comes from the belief in a higher power and the inner conscious relies on it for inner peace and tranquility. Whereas, religion is the faith in a ‘specific’ higher power, whether it be Christianity, Buddhism, Islam or Hinduism.

Religion follows a specific faith while spirituality does not have a particular belief system. People can be spiritual without following any particular religion. Spirituality means different things to different people and usually revolves around the belief in a higher power. It gets followed by people regardless of their ethnic, religious and traditional values.

 Spiritual counseling and psychotherapy

How is psychotherapy different from spiritual counseling?

Psychotherapy and spiritual counseling are not so different in their approaches. In fact, spiritual counseling stems from the methods and approaches used in psychotherapy. While there may be similarities in both the approaches, there is a slight deviation in the way spiritual counselors work in their sessions.

While psychotherapy focuses on a client’s mental well-being and the healing of the past traumas, it also takes into consideration their experiences of childhood memories and family history. It particularly helps individuals to identify, process and analyze their emotions, feelings and help them build up their self-esteem.

Spiritual counseling also helps their clients to recover their mental well-being, by identifying, processing and analyzing the emotions and feelings. However, the direction of the counseling sessions is more towards the clients’ spiritual beliefs for their healing process. The spiritual counselors explore the connection between the clients’ emotions and their belief system. An analysis is done into the clients’ belief systems that were developed by self. Accompanied by those that were acquired from their family is done to make the process of healing truly in sync with the clients’ inner self. The counselors incorporate a sense of interconnection between the client and the higher power during the treatment sessions.

 Spiritual counseling and counselors

 How does spiritual counseling work?

Spiritual counseling believes in the system that life is inherently personal and individuals would want to build their unique, flowing relationship with it organically. The soul is considered the starting point to the healing process, the individuals incorporate mindfulness of the heart and the mind to create a sacred interdependence between these elements of oneself.

For their personal and collective growth, compassion for self and others becomes a core aspect in spiritual counseling. It is a holistic approach where no differentiation or duality is made between personal responses and reactions, All of which are considered to be intrinsically linked. It makes the individual aware of the fact that the integration of personal wounds and their personal journey is the greatest tool to their life experiences.

What are pastoral counselors?

Pastoral counselors are mental health professionals who have trained in pastoral counseling. They offer guidance and information to foster psychological and spiritual well-being. Pastoral counselors can be religious leaders who represent a specific sect within a religious community or can be non-denominational in their approach. These counselors typically have training in theology and spirituality apart from the training in psychotherapy, adding a much-needed aspect to the therapeutic process.

Pastoral counselors take into account the crisis of individuals and resolve them by combining their spiritual beliefs with therapy for their personal development. The counselors work along with individuals, couples and families depending on the crisis resolution issues. Sessions with the pastoral counselor always facilitate in the reconciliation during conflictual situations between individual or between an individual and his inner self.

Techniques and methods of spiritual counseling

During the counseling sessions, you can expect to receive spiritual guidance. The opportunity to discuss the difficulties and challenges that you are facing are explored and solutions are carved out from the individual’s spiritual beliefs. The treatment will usually depend on the needs of the individual, their belief systems, and the counselor you have chosen to consult with.

If a denominational spiritual counselor is chosen, then you can expect to have prayers, texts from religious scriptures and other religious elements incorporated into the counseling sessions. If a non-denominational counselor is chosen, you can encounter non-verbal forms of therapy apart from the regular talks. Guided meditations, yoga, dance or art based therapy are some of the non-verbal forms of therapy. However, whichever counselor you choose for your healing process, a safe and non-judgmental space would be created. This space would allow you to explore and understand the spiritual beliefs and discover one’s own truth.

Some common spirituality counseling practices include the following methods for treatment:

·          Meditation

It is practiced in a variety of ways and techniques.

One of the most common aspects of all forms of meditation is mindfulness. It is a form of meditation in which an individual focuses on being aware of what an individual is sensing and feeling in the moment.

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·         Hypnosis

It helps people to enter their subconscious mind, connect their body, mind and soul, and then attain an understanding of their inner self. Hypnosis helps people to bring themselves into directed attention, decreased surrounding awareness, and heightened ability to respond to advice.

·         Existential questioning

It helps the client explore thoughts around the meaning of life, their purpose in life specifically, what death means to them and how afterlife and its thoughts affect them. It also helps them to introspect their daily thoughts and align them to start feeling better gradually.

Reasons to go for spiritual counseling

When people have concerns regarding their religion, their belief in the higher power, etc., they seek out counseling from their religious leaders. Similarly, when people are in doubt of their spirituality they seek spiritual counseling. Doubts regarding the connection with their inner-self, with the higher power or when no way seems like a way to live. However, unlike the religious leader, the spiritual counselor provides a form of therapy with a heavier focus on getting to know the client. The clients’ difficulties and forming a therapeutic relationship through trust and empathetic listening become the main motive of the counselor.

Studies also show that spiritual counseling can be effective in the treatments of various mental health concerns and is a definite helpful approach during the grieving process. The passing away of a close relative or a loved one causes an individual to question and reevaluate the meaning of life and the basic spiritual beliefs. Help from a spiritual counselor can help you to direct the flow in challenging times like these. A trained mental health professional would be a sure way to attain and restore a sense of balance in your life.

Spirituality therapists distribute the focus of their client on not only the spirituality but also their mind and body, making spiritual counseling a holistic approach.

Confidentiality

Just like all the other practices of psychotherapy, spiritual counseling maintains a code of ethics. It does not allow the mental health practitioner to disclose any kind of information about the patients, sessions and the contents of the sessions to any third-party unless for extremely rare cases. Every bit of information that goes to and fro the client and the counselor is kept between the two without fail.