Spiritual Counselling, Spiritual Well-Being and Mental Health
In recent years there’s greater awareness of the positive impact that spiritual fitness or well-being has on our mental health.
Major faith paths and organised religions can meet this need for people, however, there are a number of fundamental differences between religion and spirituality. These are some of the differences that have been identified by Deepak Chopra, and which resonate with me:
- There are no rules to spirituality
- Spirituality is based on love and not on fear
- Religion tells you the truth – Spirituality lets you discover it
- Religion separates, spirituality unites
- The difference between karma and punishment
- Walk your own path
“Religion is belief in someone else’s experience. Spirituality is having your own experience.”
It’s interesting that 12-step groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon have for many decades now connected with the importance of spirituality and having a connection with a God of our own understanding.
People attending 12-step groups reach out for help, acknowledge their powerlessness, and surrender their unwellness, to something greater than themselves; which, in essence, is the first step of the 12-step programme.
Step-2 of the 12-step programme states: “Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” And, step-3 is: “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.”
Other people experiencing dis-ease in their life may opt to go down the route of formal counselling, psychotherapy or spiritual counselling.
What’s spiritual counselling?
The framework used for spiritual counselling isn’t unlike what’s used for counselling and psychotherapy; however, in my personal experience, the process is significantly different. What’s ‘different’ and appealing about spiritual counselling is something that I initially only read about, but I’ve since been blessed to experience for myself. The ‘difference’ between counselling/psychotherapy is subtle and elusive and can sometimes be difficult to even put into words. In the process of spiritual counselling, grace is placed before psychology. The intentionality of inviting the God of our understanding to guide and direct the spiritual counselling process is crucial in the process of spiritual counselling.
The impact of spiritual counselling can be instantaneous, although it may also be the case that there’s nothing particularly outstanding about the process and outcome of spiritual counselling either during or after a session – in fact, in my experience it can be days, weeks or even months after a spiritual counselling session before the truth really emerges or begins to make sense. I’ve experienced it as the unravelling of old ideas, which in turn helped me to see the light. The truth of a situation comes to light in God’s time rather than in our time, when we’re eventually able to face that particular aspect of ourselves, and to integrate whatever learning that’s been made available to us through the spiritual counselling relationship.
Spiritual counselling can provide the opportunity to discover and explore our personal connection with the God of our understanding and to come to know that we are one.