Spirituality is the essence of the counseling process. It positively affects healing, supports the sense of hope and good outcome, and is a source of comfort and insight along the way. Your spirituality is the ideal your therapist holds for you as you move through the challenges that brought you to counseling. Your religious or spiritual worldview—or personal ethic—helps you make the changes that heal your life.
How do we know that spirituality is essential to personal growth?
As we explore the body, emotions and thoughts, we find that our true identity is in none of these. There is a greater part of us that can make changes in each of these areas, and sees them as temporary at best. For example, we know that we can help relieve physical pain by altering how we think about it. Through this, we discover that we are more than just our bodies. We also know that our emotions are reactions to a thought, belief or attitude that that we are holding. From this, we discover that we are more than our feelings. When we examine our thoughts, we find that some are true while others are not. We also find that we can change a thinking pattern from “I am not strong enough to go through this,” to “I have all that I need to achieve my goal,” which opens us to new choices in our life. As a result, we discover that we are more than our thoughts.
What, then, are we?
We are something greater than the self that we know. We are that inner strength, wisdom, compassion, acceptance and joy that we hold as an ideal. Our spiritual nature is that which urges us to reach out for help, to find encouragement for moving through difficult situations, and to be truthful with ourselves, even when no one is looking.
When we feel out of touch with our ideal self, we may feel a loss of hope or motivation to give our best to our daily tasks. At times, it is difficult to see beyond our problems, and we feel out of integrity with our thoughts, feelings and behavior. Our bodies may ache from stress. Our emotions may not make sense to us. Our thoughts may seem unpredictable, even a little frightening. We may believe we are our problem. Our awareness of this disconnect comes from our spiritual nature, urging us to try something different to resolve our difficulties. We can then look within ourselves and make the adjustments necessary to pull us back into alignment with who we really are. Yet, sometimes we need more—an outside observer who can look objectively at our situation and offer guidance.
Your therapist is trained to hold a picture of you as capable, healthy and whole, even when you feel you aren’t. She or he is there to remind you of your spiritual nature, to help you regain hope and your sense of inner balance. This vision can only be held from the vantage point of your ideal self, not your physical, emotional or mental levels, which are changing and are not you.
Through counseling, you are supported in awakening to your inherent talents and abilities. Your ideal self is within you. It is accessible and it belongs to you. Listen to its promptings and let it move you forward in life.
Lynn Barrette, LCSW Blending psychology with spirituality, I offer tools for forgiveness, acceptance, meditation and relaxation, and positive parenting solutions.