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What is a Spiritual Counselor: Exploring Their Role

 

 

 

 

 

Over the past five decades, I have seen many counseling professionals begin to evolve beyond traditional concepts and techniques from their initial training, and instead move along a more spiritual vector. Since it is the twenty-first century and spirituality is no longer an odd concept, other newer professionals were already there. Despite the conservative tendencies among licensing boards and insurance companies, counselors who introduce spiritual, transpersonal, or metaphysical paradigms into their work are no longer as ostracized as in decades past. Moreover, they are merely reflecting the society around them, which is also showing an increasing interest in spirituality.

Dr. Brian Weiss, author of Many Lives, Many Masters, was the head of psychiatry at Mt. Sinai Medical Center, in Miami Beach, when he published his first book on past lives in the mid-1980s. Since I live in the area, I heard from the local psychiatric community that many psychiatrists wanted to kick him out of their regional and national psychiatric associations. Brian weathered that storm and has since impacted the lives of hundreds of thousands of people worldwide with his work, but it remains an example of how this work has threatened traditionalists.

If you are a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, mental health counselor, psychotherapist, marriage and family therapist, hypnotherapist, pastoral counselor, or life coach counselor, you can choose to broaden your practice to include spirituality, to become a spiritual counselor, a spiritual guidance counselor, or a spiritual coach. Nevertheless, you can still expect some blowback. That is why credentials are so essential. It is critical that you have advanced education and training, so skeptics cannot accuse you of being an instant 90-day wonder. Today, many who call themselves spiritual counselors are not well-trained or credentialed. Credentials are not everything, but they are not to be dismissed so easily either. I know some excellent spiritual counselors and they do not have a master’s degree or doctorate in a counseling field. Unfortunately, I know some who provide spiritual counseling who are in way over their heads. Of course, having a master’s or doctorate does not guarantee competency either. However, for any of us in the counseling and coaching fields, our specialized training gives us a window into the complexities of the human psyche, of dealing with traumatized people, of working with people in complicated and dysfunctional family and partner relationships, of seeing people at their best and their worst. Counseling is not for the faint of heart or the unskilled. Consequently, well-trained and well-educated professionals already have a counseling or coaching foundation to build upon, allowing for the addition of these new and reframed skill sets.

 

This new and emerging spiritual counseling profession will definitely challenge you and everything you previously learned. Either you will think we are crazy, or our Holistic Spiritual Counseling Certification Training will open your mind to new therapeutic concepts and methods that have the potential to significantly increase your skills and effectiveness as a counselor. The odds that we are crazy would be much higher if we were reporting spiritual gifts and counseling ideas that only we possess, but, thankfully, that is not true. We build upon a tradition of many gifted spiritual predecessors and teachers, and many of the stories and techniques we share are familiar to those in the field. The information in our Holistic Spiritual Counseling Certification Training charts our work and the work of many other spiritually guided professionals, ancient and modern.

The Next Level

 

Spiritual counseling takes people to another level, so you absolutely need to know what you are doing. It does not particularly matter what your theoretical orientation is when you begin this work—Freudian, Jungian, Gestalt, Cognitive-Behavioral, Rogerian, Eriksonian, Holistic, Process, Humanistic, Integrative, the list goes on and on. A spiritual and metaphysical overlay enhances your orientation, but you do not have to abandon all your basic theoretical principles to be an effective spiritual counselor. There are certainly areas where current psychological and psychiatric convictions do not fit with spiritual beliefs, but it will be up to you to reconcile those differences to your satisfaction. For example, how do we reconcile the idea of karma with our Western scientific theories about the influence of genetics (Nature) and the environment (Nurture)? How do we move away from the medical model of disease that still guides so much of our work in the West and open ourselves to a more shamanic and holistic viewpoint that healing must include all levels of a person’s being: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual? What are the therapeutic boundaries in spiritual counseling, and how do they differ from more traditional restrictions? These and other questions are addressed throughout the Holistic Spiritual Counseling Certification Training.

We cannot forget why spiritual counseling is emerging as a counseling modality. Since the beginning of the human race, there has always been a quest for meaning and higher purpose. This seemed to gather speed in the mid-twentieth century. Since the hippie days of the 1960s, people have sought this higher purpose through a variety of mediums—they tried communes, drugs, the sexual revolution, social media, and video games, all to no avail. The civil rights, human rights, feminist, and peace movements were giant steps in that direction, but still did not completely fulfill humanity’s soul-searching needs.

At the individual level, many of our clients come to us in a fragile and wounded state. They often feel lost and cast adrift in the vast ocean of complexity and confusion we know as the modern world. The old rules for careers, relationships, personal identity, and even religion no longer seem to apply. Beneath all that is an underlying restlessness that they should be doing something or that something is missing, unseen but just on the tip of their tongue. In The Celestine Prophecy, James Redfield reveals that this is the first of nine spiritual principles, and it refers to that quest for purpose. We find that unconscious restless search in nearly all our clients, whether they are aware of it or not. The spiritual counselor needs to be mindful of that need, as it will be vital to the client’s healing and spiritual growth. Spiritual counseling elevates the counselor and client beyond the mundane mental and emotional levels, reaching into a higher consciousness at the soul level.

Higher Purpose

 

Vocare is Latin for “a call” or “to be called.” In our work we suggest that each and every person on the planet has a higher calling or Higher Purpose, even if most are unaware of it. Utilizing our unique gifts, our Higher Purpose is how we give back to the planet, to life, to each other. We are not here to just take and receive but following the spiritual principles of energy exchange and reciprocity, we also share and give back. This is particularly relevant for spiritual counselors. It is a calling. In 1997, I received a clear call to the ministry in my meditations and prayers. It was a compelling inner voice that was impossible to ignore. I was a psychotherapist, so this surprised me, as this was not high on my agenda of expectations. However, you will soon discover that things quickly go sideways if you attempt to resist a call. No one, including God or Goddess, is commanding you to follow a particular path. The best way we can describe it is that your Higher Self is reminding you of something you volunteered for long ago. It is part of you and your soul path, so resisting it is actually moving against yourself. For those of us on this path, we are grateful we listened, because even though initially we could not foresee how or why we were called to this course, it led us to the wonderful work we are guided to today.

This is a service profession. No one goes into this and says, “I think I’ll become a spiritual counselor and make lots of money.” There is nothing wrong with prosperity, but it is not the guiding force behind this decision. It is a calling—so pay attention if you feel you have been called to do this blessed work.

A little side note on Higher Purpose. It is a soul contract. Years ago, one of our spiritual teachers, a very powerful woman in the spiritual field, suddenly burst out sobbing. She had just completed a major spiritual project. Through her tears, she said, “I feel so empty. I’ve completed my spiritual contract. I’ve finished what I came here to do. What do I do now?” Apparently, we may have more than one contract to fulfill in a lifetime, but she had hit a void. She was in between callings, and it took a while for her to manifest and realize her next path.

Is Spiritual Counseling Your Calling?

 

So, here it is. Spiritual counseling is definitely marching to the beat of a different drummer. It is challenging. It is exciting. It is passionate. Are you being called to it? Are you ready for it? If you are, there can be hardly a more fulfilling career and life purpose. Welcome aboard!

Breaking Tradition

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