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In the early history of psychotherapy, research on integrating faith and spirituality did not arouse much interest . However, this attitude has changed in the latter part of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century. Psychology has, of late, experienced a paradigm shift with an increased openness to religion and spirituality . This paradigm shift refers to the significant change in historical practices in science .
A practical question for integration becomes when and how to address the sacred in psychotherapy . An increasing number of clients would like to have the option of including spirituality as part of their counseling . For many clinicians, the integration process means more training and, in some instances, acknowledging a different perspective regarding spirituality in psychotherapy. For counselors exploring how to integrate spirituality into psychotherapy, this could be cognitively framed as part of the assessment process rather than an extra task in addition to the process.
As the therapist gathers assessment information from the client, the client can agree or not agree to integrate the spiritual component into therapy . In the context of psychotherapeutic work, it is important to note that each psychotherapist and each client, depending on their cultural background and life experiences, will conceptualize religion and spirituality somewhat differently .
Clinicians are often taught to pay attention to many, if not all these factors, but often religion is left unaddressed. During the initial assessment, ask the client if spirituality is important to them, how important it is, and how the client utilizes spirituality in their day-to-day living experience. The collected data could reveal valuable assessment information that will help clinicians address the needs and beliefs of the individual in front of them.
Importantly, in professional psychological practice, therapists should use caution when integrating spirituality and religious tools in counseling, paying attention to professional ethics, competence, and scope of practice. Counselors are usually not theologians or clergy, so they should be cautious not to overstep their professional bounds in a therapeutic relationship. Research suggests varied reasons for the concern. As the interest has dramatically increased for integrating spirituality and psychotherapy, resources and opportunities for trainings i. In addition, mental health professionals can organize workshops or seek out readings and other training opportunities in religious and spiritual diversity .
A primary concern for those promoting the field is ensuring there is proper supervision for therapists learning to use religious tools or help clients deal with religious issues while in their postdoctoral training. The training opportunities pertaining to religious and spiritual issues have not been as plentiful, as yet.
Recommendations for training could include: take a course, attend a seminar or workshop, speak with religious leaders, or engage in a personal reading program to become familiar with prominent faith traditions. Clinicians could also take online courses, engage in supervision in a multi-faith peer supervision group, hire a clinical supervisor with expertise in religious and spiritual issues, or contact clergy .
In recognizing there are challenges associated with spiritual phenomena, mental health professionals are invited to join this important work  of integrating client spirituality in psychotherapy. Towards religious and spiritual competency for mental health professionals. In Handbook of psychotherapy and religious diversity. Introduction to the special issue on spirituality and psychotherapy.
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