Spirituality and mental health are very much related, but together they make many people uncomfortable and maybe even, confrontational. There is the age-old issue of therapists not wanting to work with clients who are of different faiths. There is the issue of therapists not wanting to work with clients whose lifestyles differ from their religious beliefs. There are clients who do not want to work with therapists who are not of their cultural and religious beliefs. There are, of course, counselors who involve the clients’ faith in their therapy. I belong to the latter group. If a client wants to discuss their religious and spiritual beliefs, I am very much comfortable with that discussion. If the client’s faith is unfamiliar to me, well then, it’s my job to do research to get to know that belief, and also to listen to the client’s experiences of that belief.
Interestingly though, I have met individuals who feel that seeking a therapist is a betrayal of their religious beliefs. Personally, I had never considered that belief. Now, I have found that this is a common belief within the black community. Christianity is a common religious belief within the Black community and many of us have been raised in the church, so this belief of betrayal makes sense when I began to break this down. We are told that we should take everything to God in prayer and that we should seek His help. But somewhere in those thoughts and lessons, the idea that having faith alone was our only job became prevalent. Even the Bible notes that faith without works is dead. Putting thoughts and beliefs out into the world is only one part of the journey.