Incorporating Faith into Counseling

by | Aug 30, 2023 | All

By Dequindre Jernigan, MA, LPC

Have you ever wondered if faith-based counseling was for you? Are there questions that have you on the fence and you’d like a little more information on what this is all about? Well, here is one perspective on how I engage in faith-based counseling with my clients.

Spirituality, faith, and religion are things that some individuals implement in their daily lives. It can be the guiding factors that determine values, their life decisions, and even the types of people they choose to have in their lives. While spirituality and religion have overlapping qualities they are different in many ways. Religion includes organizational beliefs and practices of a specific institution while spirituality involves your personal relationship with an entity higher than yourself.

People come to counseling for various reasons, and for those spiritually inclined, it can be important for them to incorporate their faith into counseling. But what does that look like? Well, one thing is for sure, it does not include teaching bible studies in session! Like any other therapeutic modality, therapists typically allow the client to lead, meaning they will gauge how important your spiritual life is to you and discuss how you want to incorporate your faith into sessions. For example, someone coming in for therapy with anxiety or depression may discuss their prayer life and how they don’t feel like God is delivering them from their problems. The therapist may discuss coping skills the client has tried before and how they align with spiritual beliefs.

Meditation is a great coping skill to help decrease anxiety if given an authentic try. With meditation, you are engaging your five senses to be able to focus on something other than what’s troubling you. Some people’s religious beliefs may frown upon techniques like meditation because it may incorporate other religious practices that are in opposition to their own. An example would be a different type of meditation that involves praying to another god. But meditation at its core is solely focusing your attention and energy toward the “here and now” and limiting yourself from outside distractions. You are free to add in prayer as well, but overall, there is nothing wrong with a little peace and quiet, right? There are also grounding techniques, which are an extension of meditative practices. Certain grounding techniques, such as breathing exercises, can be beneficial for those struggling with panic attacks. Grounding techniques allow your heart rate to decrease, and your breaths eventually become more regulated. These are only two of many things that you can do to help decrease depression and anxiety.

Clients should aim to be open and honest about their religious beliefs to help the therapist better understand their background. Regardless of your religious background, there is a certain comfort in having a therapist who respects your faith and helps you along your spiritual journey. Not to confuse your therapist with your spiritual leadership, therapists are here to guide you, not to indoctrinate or force a different religion onto you. Your personal relationship with God can be a comfort during your therapeutic struggles. And things such as prayer, going to church, and fellowshipping with other spiritually minded individuals can be the additional support you need outside of therapy. If you or someone you know is interested in faith-based counseling, we have therapists here at our Troy location who are trained to help you.

Dequindre Jernigan (Quin), is a graduate of Wayne State University where she obtained her Master’s in Counseling Education. She currently works as a Licensed Professional Counselor treating children, adolescents, adults, and couples. Quin offers Christian counseling and specializes in cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) as well as rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT). She helps treat depression, anxiety, PTSD, mood disorders, self-esteem, and stress.

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