Spirituality has become a more prevalent and mainstream term in recent years, but what exactly does it mean? Most people have general understandings of religion or different religious practices, but how do they differ from spirituality?
Spirituality is more broad than just a single religion, however spirituality can play a role in religion. Defined by Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) Dr. Katrina Michelle, spirituality is “the search for transcendent meaning or as a belief in a greater existence outside of humankind.” Thus, spirituality can be a part of religious practices or religion (many religions focus on these very topics), but can also exist outside of that structure. Spirituality can help individuals find meaning in their lives, bring greater happiness and even help individuals achieve strong connections to others or themselves.
When considering options for therapy, those who are spiritual or feel strongly about their spirituality may find it beneficial to have a therapist who is aware of and open to their specific spiritual beliefs. Spiritual beliefs may be especially important in the therapy setting as individuals seek help for dealing with adverse events, major life changes, and navigating moral/ethical issues. In fact, the Journal of Clinical Psychology found many benefits to incorporating spirituality into therapy. So, how do you find the right therapist that is willing to bring your spirituality into a space of mental health care? Here’s some tips for finding therapists that are open to incorporating your spiritual beliefs into your therapy.
Check out a therapist’s website. The easiest way to get a quick idea if a therapist is willing to incorporate spirituality into their therapy practice is to take a quick look at the therapist’s website that you’re interested in working with. Do they have a section on spirituality? Are spiritual practices important to their values and mission of providing mental health care? A website can be a good place to start when considering if a therapist is right for you and your spirituality.
Be aware that not all spiritual therapy is the same. While an initial look at a website is a great place to start, it’s a good idea to dive a little deeper. A therapist may claim to incorporate spirituality into therapy practices, but it may not be quite what you expect. Be sure to explore exactly what a therapist means when they reference spirituality in their practice. Are they open-minded and willing to incorporate your specific spirituality, or do they have their own specific ideas about what spirituality should look like in therapy? A therapist should never try to push their own spirituality on you in therapy, so steer clear of therapists who have a singular mindset on spirituality.
Just ask! (In person or on the phone) At the end of the day, if you aren’t sure about a therapist and their specific practice, just ask! You can either give them a call or ask on the first day of your therapy session. If they express that they are open to incorporating your spirituality into your therapy, it may be a good fit.
Ultimately, you may not know for sure that a therapist is right for you until you begin working with them, but if you do a little research beforehand it may help direct you towards a better fit for your specific mental health care needs.
Learn more about specific services offered by Lu Rocha by checking out her website.
Contributing Writer: Brittany A. Hamilton
Photo Credit: Ben White@benwhitephotography