A therapist is a person who tries to understand psychological needs of a patient and offering them comfort in form of medicines or by counseling them.
Spiritual and religious matters are a human phenomenon that is supposedly free and open. This is ones belief in their creator. Even though different people have different beliefs, they show it in their faith. Spirituality is a belief that is all in the mind and that is why it is one of the major factors used in psychology. Especially those who want to spread the gospel, study spirituality in theology schools (Boden & Kippers 2012). The spirituality entails fortuitous study of the human mind. This is about unfolding what this person believes in, how he lives his life and what he values in life this includes how he defines virtues and vices.
Reasons why some clients want to discuss spiritual matters in their therapy
Spiritual approach to treat a client: Now unlike in the past people use the word spirituality to mean different things. Some people will define it as a way of trying to know themself finding your identity. Others will define spirituality as a way of life while others will define spirituality as a way of finding peace. Talking about spiritual matters with your therapist is a way of seeking guidance both ethically and morally. In the quest of wanting to know who you are, you may seek guidance from your therapy. By unfolding your mind, they will be able to guide you spiritually on how you deviated and how to find yourself. Therapists use ones belief to get to the patient (Branham 2001). This is what helps them accept their mistakes and come back to their senses. The body, the spirit and the soul act as one no one can survive without either of them. When the spirit is hurt or disoriented, the rest cannot function well. These three features are what connect us to one another. Our belief and faith is what enables us to socialize and understand each other.
Faith: Some people`s spiritual faith involves performance of rituals. This is their belief and they express it by performing rituals. When they need to connect to their spirits, they would seek guidance from their therapist who would be willing to perform the ritual with them in order to try to reach them (Brown 2006). This may not mean anything to the therapist but because the patient believes in ritual, she might be willing to perform it. The therapist could also invite a person who can help the patient with the spiritual problem that is if she is not in a position to do it. With faith, anything can happen the degree in which people believe is what matters. Previously, it was handed down from one person to another especially people from the same family. If one believes, it will be very hard for them to quit or go against their belief. Some people may choose to die rather than go against their faith (Burke 2005).
Spiritual matter as the problem to solve: While therapy has many things in common as the Spiritual pursuits it was not considered as a discipline that is interested in spiritual matters. There is however a research as to whether or not spiritual matters are very important in life and whether they should be linked in the therapy sessions. This is because spirits are assumptions that they have the ability to help find the reason for living and soothe them when in grief (Burke 2005).
Reasons why patients do not want to discuss spiritual matters with their therapist
Fear of judgment by the therapist: Spiritual matters concerns ones faith and if abused it could really hurt these people for the rest of their life. As much as it is important in life, some patients would choose not to discuss it with their therapist because they may not share the same faith. Suppose the therapist is an atheist and the patient is a true believer, discussing the spiritual matters of the patient would not be of great help to the patient. Instead of the therapist trying to help the patient in finding him or herself spiritually, the therapist will try to change their belief into becoming a nonbeliever. In life, either we all have to choose to believe or not to believe but the bottom line is that we need something to hold on to in order to survive in this life (Corey & Callanan 2011). The religious belief is what keeps many going, for those who are very religious they will never be depressed unlike the nonbelievers who have no hope. When a therapist changes the belief of this patient, he or she will be more confused in life than actually finding his identity which was the reason why he sought help.
Therapist undermining the patient: The other reason why patients would not disclose their spiritual matters with their therapists would be fear of their religion to be undermined. This will mostly happen in countries where the patient`s religion is not dominant and that it is discouraged in the country. For instance, condone of Christianity in most of the Asian countries this will make the patient very uneasy for him or her to disclose their spiritual matters to the therapist. The therapist may not have anything against the religion of the patient but because of that fear, the patient may choose not to disclose. Spiritual matter is however being used by most therapist in the present time to treat patients unlike in the past (Castonguay & Beutler 2006). The therapist to reach the patient`s soul, body and the mind in order to treat them uses spirits. This would be difficult if the patient chooses not to disclose the information.
Relevance: The other reason why the patient may chose not to disclose spiritual matters with the therapist is that the patient does not believe there is a connection between science and spiritual matters. Mixing the two may not be his intention and he would rather not. In the past, the spiritual matters and science did not share anything at all but in the resent times, the two disciplines have been used hand in hand to treat patients by the therapists. The therapist may ask the patient to disclose this information, which may seem a little bit odd especially for the old age that may not see the point of it. We cannot blame them for this because in the past, spiritual matters were personal in that you can only talk about them when you need be or with your family not in a therapy session (Francis & Jones 2006). This is because in the past traditional rituals were performed by many who believed in them. Christianity discouraged this and those found practicing traditional rituals faced the music even death was possible.
Conflicts that may occur when clients discuss spiritual issues with their therapist
Spiritual and religion matters as a threat to health: Therapy is one way of treating a patient, even though some patients see it as just guidance it is a way of treating the mind. Spiritual matters may differ with health care if it has a negative impact toward the patients. Some spiritual believes entail not visiting the hospital. These people believe that the God they believe in will heal them through magic that visiting the hospital is a way of disrespecting God and not having faith. In therapy session, the therapist may insist that the patient sees a doctor but because of the patients` belief, he or she might not want to see a doctor (Gelso & Hayes 2008). This is very contradicting especially to the therapist who cannot go against the code of doctor patient confidentiality. The doctor can only save the patient by talking them into changing their mind. This is the only way out otherwise the doctor will have to see the patient make a decision that will kill him because of his belief.
The conflict is between the spiritual faith and the therapist profession. For the patient to seek the therapist help, he must have been suffering. It does not make sense for the patient to wait for a miracle to heal him. Religion belief of the patient would be harmful to the patient rather than save him from himself. The patient may not respond to treatment even if offered one. This is because they do not have faith in the doctors than they have in their god (Harley & Dillard 2005).
For patients who are devoted to their religion they are likely to suffer from psychological and social strain that can affect their life as patients and their loved ones. The patients may be struggling to believe or righteous striving. For the patient who struggle to believe may suffer from distress related to the culture they believe may it be Christianity or Muslim whichever is dominant.
Some patients could be mentally distressed because they are righteously striving. They may not want to do this but because their religious faith calls upon them to do it then they do not have a choice other than do it. This will affect their health in that they are struggling to do what the religion expects of them but they are not in a position to do it (Kelly 2005). Disclosing this information may even make things worse for him. A therapist is a doctor whose job is to treat a patient. If the patient`s religion belief is what is making him distressful, the doctor would advice the patient to stop. No matter how important the religion is, the health of a patient is the first priority. The therapists will not advice the patient to stop believing but to do what is right for his health. There are certain acts that will not affect the patient if not followed (Kelley 2005). For instance if the religion requires the patient to fast for three days, it is possible for some but not everyone. If you feel you cannot go without food for three days, it beats logic for a believer to fast for three days then fall ill on the last day because of lack of energy.
Normal life and righteous life: Some patients will feel guilty if they do not follow what their religion requires of them. They may seek medical attention but the guilt will affect their mental and psychological development. Unless they fulfill their faith`s requirement, the psychological development will continue to deteriorate. Religion can be harmful if it is there to make the believers its slave. If the religious teaches, does not allow their members to seek medical attention when they need it that they should not accept life-saving blood, the teaching are wrong (McMinn & Phillips 2001).
Some religions demonstrate their faith by demonstrating healing practices in public in order to get people to join their congregation. Faith is in a person and unless the person believes, they cannot experience such a miracle. These congregations encourage people to seek miracles rather than seek medical attention. They perform miracles or magic before them in order to make them believe. Some of the churches like Jehovah Witness practice this its followers do not accept life saving blood. This could be the only option to save their life but because they choose to be loyal to their faith, they choose to die (McMinn & Phillips 2001). It is admirable how people can be faithful to their religions but the question they ought to ask is whether it is worth dying.
Faith and Medicine: Change of faith is a potential conflict that can arise when patients discuss spiritual matters with their therapist. Therapist can really abuse their patients in a way but without the knowledge of the patients. The choice of the words will determine how the session goes. There are therapists who tell you negative things about yourself and your faith. Their pessimist nature will also affect you negatively (Page 2006). For instance, when you have a child and the people surrounding the child keep saying negative things about him, he grows up knowing that there is nothing good about him. He will not be interested in doing anything good because of the mentality that nothing good comes from him. The same case applies to a patient who turns to be a pessimist because of the things the therapist tells him. Religion could be one of the things the therapist changes about the patient. The therapist might decide to bring out the negative side of the patient faith and the religion to be precise. Therapy entails twisting a patients mind in order to get their fear and weakness. The therapy will then be able to treat the patient. The therapist will take advantage of his ability to turn the patient against his faith. There was a crusade some years before where very strong believers changing their faith after seeking help from a therapist (Ross 2009). This is because the therapist twisted his mind into believing that his religion was not beneficial to them.
The other conflict that will arise when a client shares the spiritual matters with the therapist is the issue of change of faith. The science and the spiritual matters differ in the way they present their facts. Science believes in treating a patient by prescribing medicine to them but religion believes in magic, powers and miracles. This is very contradicting to persons who have to want to believe in science and at the same time have faith in his religious. In science which is represented by therapists, they will ensure that they treat the patient by sending them to the doctor they need to see if need be. The bottom line is that they will encourage the patients to seek medical attention. On the other hand, spiritual matters will encourage their believers to wait for their faith to heal them. Their God will grant them a miracle if they have been loyal to him (Page 2006).
Normal life and righteous life: There is a conflict between the science and the health profession. God created us and gave us wisdom. It is because of this wisdom that there are doctors, pilots, teachers and so forth. Doctors are there to save the sick and make sure they get a second chance to live. It is this faith that teaches us to go the hospitals and still have faith. Doctors like the therapists will do their part but of course, it is the will of God to keep you alive or not (Simner 2010). Although there has been a conflict between science and health profession, in present, both disciplines are helping to treat patients in order to ensure they both help the patient to recover.
In the past when performing ritual was a norm, they did not encourage hospitals but they used their own traditional medicine to heal their sick. Manufacturers use these traditional plants to manufacture the modern medicine. The only difference is that they are added color and flavor in order to change their look and taste. Up to date, there are aged people who would not visit the hospital because they prefer their tradition medicine which are homemade. These people are better than the ones who believe in miracle without seeking medical attention I mean logically. It is not a matter of disrespecting their religion but it does not make sense for a parent to watch her child die in the name of a miracle (Simner 2010). This child will die as you wait for a miracle. This is equivalent to murder because as a parent you are supposed to take care of a child including taking them to the hospital when they are sick.
Guidelines related to potential conflict.
Accept science and religion to be used together: The only way forward to prevent the conflict between science and religion is by bringing the two disciplines together in order to find a common interest. The common interest being to save the human life and ensure they survive as many years as possible. Faith, hope and medicine is what is needed in order for people to live more than a hundred year putting accidents aside. We have seen patients who fail to get well even after the medical attention because they do not have faith. These two aspects work hand in hand. A patient needs both of them to recover hope too. Hope is the unifying factor between the two. If the patient has hope, they will seek medical attending with the faith that the medicine will cure them (Stevenson 2007).
Religion was the founder of science. In the beginning, there was nothing like science but religion was there. With time, science developed and did religion. The two disciplines bringing friction into human life is not a way of developing them but a way of proving that they are worthless. The two disciplines are worthless if they destroy the human nature and unity. They are supposed to bring the human kind together but if we use it as a weapon, it becomes dangerous. For instance, a knife is a kitchen tool but we can use it as a weapon to kill that is when it becomes dangerous otherwise, it is not. Religion and science should therefore come together and help the human kind instead of destroying it (Wheeler 2008).
As the doctors` take the code to protect and save life the therapist should ensure that they stay positive minded and do not influence their patients into becoming pessimist. This includes hating their religion. It is important for one to have faith is something, if the patients loose this faith, they may turn out to be dangerous even to themselves. This would be because they would not value life and least respects others. This is what happens to most of the criminals around. Their faith was everything to them they stopped believing in it. Feeling hollow with nothing to believe in, they changed their life from law- abiding citizens into criminals who do not respect life (Stevenson 2007). This is why we see children who have come from a decent family and with very good background never lacked anything in life but they end up as criminals or as drug addicts. This happens when you take something valuable away from them, faith. With faith, life had a meaning but without it, it was not worth living.
Respect to both disciplines: It would be important for the therapist to learn about the spiritual extend of the patient before treating them. This would enable the therapist to know the approach to use in order to reach out to them. If using spiritual belief will damage them even in the long- run, using another approach would be the best way to treat the patient. The therapist could refer the patient to another doctor or therapist if he or she cannot handle the patient`s situation. Unless the patient is willing to disclose the religious matters, the therapist should respect that. Therapy being a way of treating the mind, it is a very sensitive part of human being to tamper with. Most of the people who are insane do not even know that they are insane (Ross 2009). They behave just like normal human beings the only difference being that their mind does not work well. That is why a therapist should not enter into the mind of a patient unless asked to.
Colleges and universities that offer medicine and especially those who specialize in psychology, they are supposed to include theology as one of the units that they study in school. Theology has become an important knowledge to therapists despite the fact that some are atheists. If you choose psychology as your career, get ready to study theology, it is as simple as that. This does not necessarily mean that the student has to believe but the knowledge is important (Page 2006).
Revising the health profession code: A therapist who studied theology and another who did not, have several approaches of treating a patient. The therapist who studied theology will respect religion more than the therapist who did not. They may be both believers but the depth of the knowledge makes a huge difference.
When religion is harmful to the health of the patient, taking the necessary measures in order for the patient to seek medical attention should be the first priority. The government should revise the health professional code that states that there should be doctor patient confidentiality. There should be doctor patient confidentiality but to what extend should the doctor enclose it. As it is they are there to save a life, nothing should be the limit of saving a life. A patient can decide not to undergo a certain treatment and he or she ends up dying but this will not be a crime, another person will decide to commit suicide, this will be suicide and a crime against humanity. These two examples are an attempt to take away life the only difference being one is a crime and the other is not. If the nurses and doctors revise the code, the doctors will be able to save many lives that have been lost in the past (Kelley 2005). If one has given up on life, do not take it on your family and friend who will bear the loss and expenses of preparing your burial so you can go in peace. Depression is in those who have lost hope and faith. True believers will never go through distress or depression. This is because their faith is so strong that everything is possible with that kind of faith. The kind of faith that enables one to cured from a terminal disease, the kind of faith that makes everything possible. With this kind of faith, depression and distress will never come your way. If they do, they are challenges of life that you can endure.
Therapists should be believers of any kind of religion. For them to treat patients using spiritual approach, they too have to believe that the approach will actually work. For instance, you cannot jump a high place if you believe that it is too high for you. The same case applies to therapists they have to believe in themselves and the method they are using to treat the patient in order for them to get through to them. Performing a spiritual right may be one of them. Some patients still believe in performing ritual and if this is what it takes to treat the patients, it is worth it. The therapist can request someone to do it for them if they are not in a position to do it. The therapist will however accept this process to push through if she believes that this ritual will cure the patient (Simner 2010).
The therapist should acknowledge all religions and not just her religion. Patients will come from all sorts of religions, acknowledging them by recognizing their existence and not judging the patients who follow these religions would be very helpful. There are very many religions in the world, as a doctor who deals with psychology you should know what they entail. This will ensure that the therapist is competent in her work in that she can handle any patient from any religion.
As you seek therapy assistance, you as a patient should be aware of the extend you are willing to share your spiritual information. The therapist can always take it over board but if you have your boundary, the therapist cannot go beyond that boundary. It is the patients` choice to decide. Certain decisions are better made before the start of the treatment than in session. The patient might not be in a position to make sound decisions. Depression is an experience that affects the brain. Thinking clearly may also be affected, that is why as a patient who want to see a therapy, plan everything that you will need before the beginning of the treatment. In this case, therapist will not be able to manipulate you by taking advantage of the situation (Burke 2005).
Conclusion: Clients can disclose their spiritual matters only if it is necessary for their health, if not, the client should keep this personal information to them. Some therapists encourage their patients to disclose everything that they feel is affecting them. Only the material facts that affect your health is the only discussion you should have not everything in your life and that includes the spiritual life. You should not let the therapist use your spiritual life to treat you unless request them. Therapist should try to cure the patients but not to rubbing on their face how boring and messed up their life is. No one has a perfect life we all have shortcomings in our life. It is their profession to listen to their patients and offer some advice (Page 2006). As a patient, you need not allow the therapist to control your own life. You were in control before you sought their help. This may happen without the patients` knowledge they do this by telling the patient that they did them and that they cannot survive without them. This is how the therapists get to manipulate the patient they make them look like they are hopeless and useless. When the patient accepts this, they become their slave in that they consult them in everything they do. This should not be the case, let the therapist treat you not making decisions for you.
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