Make An Appointment Refer A Friend
Spiritually Based
February 07, 2010

A recent Gallup poll found that 66% of Americans surveyed reported they would prefer a counselor who is religious. Research has also demonstrated that while many therapists report that clients encourage them to talk about God in therapy, the overwhelming majority of therapists report they have received minimal, if any, training in how to handle these conversations in helpful ways (Kahle, 1997). These findings can primarily be attributed to two important facts. First of all, the overwhelming majority of Americans believe that spirituality and religion are very important aspects of life. Recent Gallup polls have discovered that over 90% of surveyed Americans reported they believe in God, engage in prayer, and state a religious preference (Gallup, 2001; Gallup, 1999). In fact, 86% of surveyed Americans reported that religion is very or fairly important in life (Gallup, 2002). Secondly, a large number of Americans are also aware that many psychotherapists have their own anti-religious and a-spiritualistic biases that could present problems in therapy for clients who believe in the importance of God in their life.

“However, psychoanalytic investigation of the individual teaches with especial emphasis that god is in every case modelled after the father and that our personal relation to god is dependent upon our relation to our physical father, fluctuating and changing with him, and that god at bottom is nothing but an exalted father.” — Sigmund Freud (in Totem and Taboo)

A-spiritualistic beliefs like this didn’t go unnoticed by well-known Christians in the past.

“Keep clear of psychiatrists unless you know that they are also Christians. Otherwise they start with the assumption that your religion is an illusion and try to ‘cure’ it: and this assumption they make not as professional psychologists but as amateur philosophers.” — C. S. Lewis (in Letters of C. S. Lewis)

Psychiatry helps us to look candidly at our inner selves and to search out the causes of our failures and fears. But much of our fearful living encompasses a realm where the service of psychiatry is ineffectual unless the psychiatrist is a man of religious faith.” - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (in Strength to Love)

Clients want therapy to be a place where they can feel comfortable talking about the issues that matter most in their lives. Many clients don’t want to worry about whether or not their therapist will respect or support their faith in God as it relates to their unique life issues. However, some clients have also complained about poor therapeutic experiences they’ve had with therapists who assumed that simply because they were a person of faith and a therapist, they were automatically effective at integrating spirituality and psychotherapy. That’s why it’s important for many clients to find a therapist who is experienced at integrating spirituality and psychotherapy when working with his or her clients on a variety of therapeutic issues. In fact, research has demonstrated that spiritually based therapy can be more helpful for many clients than therapy in which their spiritual faith is not addressed.