Addressing Faith in the Counselling Room: A Phenomenological Exploration of Lived Experience
Since a large percentage of the world’s population identifies with some sort of religious practice, I believe that as counsellors we need to feel comfortable and competent working not only with those from diverse ethnic or cultural backgrounds, but also with those who adhere to particular faith traditions. The purpose of the research presented in this thesis was to look at the lived experiences of five participants who were counselled by both a non–faith-based counsellor and a faith-based counsellor. My study was conducted using a phenomenological method of inquiry. After gathering my data, I identified four themes that arose from commonalities in the participants’ responses and that, independently and in intersection with each other, seemed to capture the essence of their lived experiences. The themes represent the participants’ insights into the importance of the spiritual aspect of human life, the client’s need to be heard and understood, the paramount role of safety in the therapeutic conversation, and the need for suitable training and sensitivity on the part of the counsellor who works with faith-based clients. This researches indicates that counsellors examine their assumptions and biases when faced with issues related to religion. Suggestions are made as to how counsellors might use spiritual values to help their clients during periods of transition and growth.