Integration Course

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        Therapists’ Integration of Religion and Spirituality in Counseling:

 A Meta-Analysis

Summarized by Dr. Nolan Thomas

Authors: Donald F. Walker; Richard L. Gorsuch; Siang- Yang Tan
Date: October 2004
Journal: Counseling and Values, Vol. 49

Key Terms/Concepts:

·         Religion – more organizational, ritual, and ideological

·         Spirituality – more personal, affective, and experiential

·         Explicit integration – a more overt approach that directly and systematically deals with spiritual or religious issues in therapy and uses spiritual resources

·         Implicit integration – a more covert approach that does not initiate the discussion of religious or spiritual issues and does not openly, directly, or systematically use spiritual resources

·         Intrapersonal integration –refers to the manner in which a therapist uses his or her personal religious or spiritual experiences in counseling


Main Statistics (if any):

90% of Americans claim Protestant or Catholic Religions

40% attend religious services weekly

More than 2/3rds of Americans consider personal spiritual practice to be an important part of their daily lives.

Findings in 18 studies of 3.813 therapists

Protestant (34.51%) Jewish (19.61) Catholic (13.89)

82.54% reported being active in their religion

66.6% reported using prayer; 64.1% reported using religious language/metaphors, and concepts; 44.4% reported using scripture in therapy

82% reported rarely or never discussed religious issues in training; 13.6% reported sometimes and 4.3% reported often

Among explicitly religious therapist

8.79% reported being inactive

42.2% of cases forgiveness was used; 39.2 use scripture/teaching of Biblical concepts; 32.6% used confrontation of sin; 18.2% used religious imagery

73.6% of therapist prayed for their clients outside of session

29.1% used in-session prayer

Key Findings:

·         Majority of therapists were with a religious denomination but were inactive, this contrasts the general population

·         Explicitly religious therapists may be valuable resource for therapy cases with religious clients when the consulting therapist does not have a good understanding of the cultural heritage of the client. 

·         Given the lack of training regarding the integration of religion and spirituality in counseling, it seems that most integration of religion and spirituality in counseling occurs through intrapersonal integration as a result of therapists’ own religious or spiritual experience. 

·         Explicitly religious therapists would seem better equipped

·         Training could not only occur in classrooms but with supervision or consultation

·         The results indicate that many therapists are already making use of religion and spirituality in therapy and that scripture and prayer were common techniques.