Saturday, June 11

Why We Might Counsel You to Find a Church

Do we push religion in counseling?

Um...yes and no.

No, your religious life is your own concern. You aren't required to be a practicing member of any particular religious community to get help from Allied Family Therapy. People of any -- or no -- religious faith are welcome here.

But here's the yes: When clients tell us they feel socially disconnected, when they feel their marriages or other relationships are coming apart, when they experience symptoms of depression, anger, or loneliness, when they go through transitional life stages, or when they're new in the area, we start asking about religious affiliation.

There's a good reason.

Turns out there's a wealth of research -- good, solid, peer-reviewed academic research -- demonstrating the positive connection between religious affiliation (ie, going to church) and mental health. When you get yourself to meetin's, you're more likely to have a sense of community, have a dependable social network, live a life of meaning and purpose, and stay married, than if you don't. Religiosity is also linked to better health and lower mortality.

So unless you've had some traumatic experience with religion (and we can help you with that, too), we generally invite clients to think about finding a religious home that matches their beliefs and values.

As counselors, we, ourselves, consider spiritual connection and prayer a significant source of insight into how we can best connect with our clients. Yes, you're being privately prayed over. Therapists aren't gods. Your life is too complex, your relationships too varied, for any therapist to know everything there is to know about your circumstances, no matter how well educated, how experienced the therapist. But we do believe there is a spiritual source of insight, and we try to tap into that source to provide you the best available counsel.

There are transcendent spiritual "moments of meeting" in therapy, moments when the individuals in the therapy room are less clients and provider, and more fellowcitizens on a journey together through unexplored terrain. We invite you to join us on that journey.

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Resources

Allen, J. G. (2014). Beyond the therapeutic alliance. Spirituality In Clinical Practice, 1(4), 263-265. doi:10.1037/scp0000042

Pargament, K. I., Lomax, J. W., McGee, J. S., & Fang, Q. (2014). With one foot in the water and one on shore: The challenge of research on spirituality and psychotherapy. Spirituality In Clinical Practice, 1(4), 266-268. doi:10.1037/scp0000046