Spirituality and Therapy: Bridging the Gap – by Daniel Colver, Spanish Fork CCF

In generations past, issues of faith and spirituality were often deferred to clergy and chaplains.  It could easily be argued that psychology, as a discipline, has maintained a reputation for reducing issues of faith and belief to mere symptoms of other issues, thereby discrediting the significance and importance of the subject matter itself. However, things are changing.  Ironically, as Len Sperry from Florida Atlantic University recognizes, “[Today], more individuals in various cultural contexts are increasingly seeking out psychotherapists and other practitioners, rather than ministers or spiritual guides, to deal with these concerns or foster their spiritual growth and development.” (Sperry, 2014)  This calls for a new breed of psychotherapist.  One who is not only skilled in matters of psychological, emotional, relational, and cognitive health, but also one who understands the various theoretical approaches to religious studies and the ethical implications of such for their clients.

The subject of spirituality has recently experienced a resurgence of supporters within the discipline of psychotherapy.  Mindfulness  techniques have become essential pillars used in such third generation behavioral therapies as dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT).  Integrative health models will often include spiritual health alongside emotional, mental, social, and physical health.  But what exactly does spiritual healthmean?  What place does religion, belief, faith, and spiritual practice have within a therapeutic setting?  And what role can a therapist serve regarding such issues?

Spirituality is such a deeply personal and subjective concept that many mental health clinicians pay little to no attention to it in therapy (except perhaps briefly asking one or two questions while completing a “psychosocial assessment”).  And it’s not their fault. Chances are, such clinicians have had little to no formal education or training on issues of religion, existentialism, or spirituality as a whole.

As a marriage and family therapist by training, I am reminded every session about how my personal experiences, biases, and values affect the therapeutic relationship and overall well-being of my clients.  When I am looking for a therapist to refer colleagues, family members, or friends, I look for the following three qualities:

  • A licensed professional with an appropriate level of education/training to treat the particular issues bringing the client into session.

 

  • Someone who authentically recognizes the limits of personal biases (we all have them).

 

  • Someone who empathically collaborates with their clients from a place of acceptance and compassion.

When working on issues of faith in a therapeutic setting, the same applies.  If you are interested in working through issues of faith or spirituality with a therapist, I also recommend the following suggestions: Take your time to find someone you feel comfortable with, and who simultaneously challenges you to grow. Be clear about what you are looking for in therapy.  Perhaps it’s wanting to learn how spirituality paired with therapeutic techniques can bolster resiliency.  Perhaps you are experiencing feelings of shame and perfectionistic tendencies which can be counterproductive to living the life you want to live.  Or perhaps you or a loved one is experiencing a crisis of faith and you need the support from a nonjudgemental, yet knowledgeable, third party.  Whatever your needs, find a therapist who you feel understands your journey and is comfortable exploring such sensitive issues with confidence.
*Please be sure to check in on the next article in this three-part series, where we explore the qualities which help define spiritual health, and five benefits of integrating spirituality with psychotherapy.

 

 

originally published by Utah Valley Health and Wellness Magazine

Free Marriage Workshop – Kenneth Jeppesen

March 16, 7:00pm @ American Fork Library.

Marriage therapist Kenneth Jeppesen will condense 40 years of marital research and teach you how to have a happier marriage. His last presentation in Orem on this topic was standing room only. Come early to get a seat!

GROW YOUR MONEY – BY DAVE YOUNG

You wouldn’t consult an electrician about heart surgery, a dentist to do your taxes, or a plumber for legal advice. Since the investment decisions you make today critically affect your future, wouldn’t it make sense to work with an experienced investment specialist?
 
For some reason, it has always been easier to lose money than it is to make it and keep it.  The FBI calculates that in recent years there were more than 4,400 victims of fraud in Utah, totaling a net losses of $1.4 billion dollars (www.fbi.gov).Properly managing your investments is critical to your long term financial success.  It is not optional. First, it requires (read more)

Smart Parenting: Your Children are Watching

As we hit full swing in the post-holiday season, young children and adolescents are finishing their first term of school. Some are full of hope, while others struggle with fear and anxiety. Simultaneously, we, as parents, are working through our own anxiety and fear about the social, emotional, educational, and physical success of our children. As our children continue to grow and develop they need us to model how to handle difficulty, stress, and life’s challenges. Through my practice as a therapist, I have found that when parents deliberately teach their children appropriate skills to handle difficulty and stress, children adjust better to life’s challenges. I emphasize the word deliberate. This has to be something you choose to spend time doing because it doesn’t just happen on its own.

Here are 4 strategies to help you model for and teach your children how to handle difficulty, stress and develop well in life:

Emotional Development

I find that many families struggle to consistently follow through with healthy emotional development in life. It is crucial that children learn how to handle emotions from their parents. This does not mean, for example, that if we get upset we are always going to handle it perfectly. Children learn how to handle emotions by observing our actions just as much, if not more, than by our words. If we make a mistake, it is important to talk with your child about this. Apologize. Tell them what you did wrong. Tell them what you could have done differently.

School for children can also be an emotionally charged experience. It often creates difficulties our children don’t know how to handle. I encourage parents to help their children understand their emotions and learn to let them go. Help your children label what they are feeling so that they are not confused. Then help them let it go. Sometimes you can have them write down their emotion on a piece of paper and tell them to let it go by tearing it up and throwing it away. We need to let our children know its ok to feel difficult emotions.

Share Your Love with Your Children

Talk openly about your love for your children and make sure they know you mean it. Verbally telling them that you love will have long-lasting effects that you may not see right away. Find fun activities that you can do together. Let some of these activities be directed by your child. Follow their lead in what to do and how to play. You will learn a lot about your child by doing this. This is an important way to develop common interests and to help you spend time with each other.

Talk about your Personal Goals

Both parents and children have goals in life that they are working towards. A goal that I have with my own children is to help them understand the things I do on a day-to-day basis (i.e., business development, understanding stocks, football scores, fantasy football). Reach outside yourself and share a bit of you with your children. This is a good segue into helping your child develop their own personal goals.

Accept Yourself

Many people struggle to accept themselves for who they are. I challenge you to explore and understand yourself and to accept the good, bad, and ugly parts you find. We often compare ourselves to others and feel like we don’t measure up. Keep in mind that everyone is different. Discover new things about yourself and finding ways to be less judgmental and critical of our weaknesses. There is so much guilt and shame in the world, let’s find ways to decrease this in ourselves. By doing so, we model to our children how to accept themselves as well.

WRITTEN BY PHIL SCOVILLE, MS, LMFT
Phil Scoville is a marriage and family therapist and a co-owner and the clinical director at the Center for Couples and Families, a counseling center in Utah Valley.

Originally published in the Utah Valley Health and Wellness Magazine:
http://utvalleywellness.com/smart-parenting-your-children-are-watching/