Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Godspeed: Counselor Education Doctoral Student Experiences from Diverse Religious and Spiritual Backgrounds

Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Godspeed: Counselor Education Doctoral Student Experiences from Diverse Religious and Spiritual Backgrounds

Article excerpt

Across professional disciplines, spirituality has been shown to be an important factor in physical health and mental wellness (Anandarajah & Hight, 2001; Dixon & Wilcox, 2016; Kaplan, Tarvydas, & Gladding, 2014; Koenig, 2015; Koenig, Larson, & McCullough, 2000; Koenig, McCullough, & Larson, 2001; Morrison, Clutter, Pritchett, & Demmitt, 2009; Richards & Bergin, 2005; Stanard, Sandhu, & Painter, 2000; Tabei, Zarei, & Joulaei, 2016; van Asselt & Senstock, 2009). Similarly, a noticed increase in the use of spirituality into clinical practice has emerged (Anandarajah & Hight, 2001; Morrison et al., 2009) as clients prefer to be counseled based on their past religious and spiritual experiences and backgrounds (Rose, Westefeld, & Ansley, 2001). The profession of counseling is often differentiated from other mental health professions by a focus on healthy functioning and holistic wellness: prevention instead of remediation (Bohecker, Schellenberg, & Silvey, 2017; Myers & Sweeney, 2008). Wellness is considered a state of well-being in which the "body, mind, and spirit are integrated" (Myers, 2009, p. 563). The idea that spirituality and religion are important characteristics of an individual's health and wellness is supported by the World Health Organization (WHO, 1983) and is uncontested in the counseling literature (Bohecker, Schellenberg, & Silvey, 2017).

The counseling profession seems to value client spiritual support networks, encourage counselors to engage in self-care activities to promote their own spiritual well-being, and recognize the impact of religion and spirituality on both client and counselor (American Counseling Association [ACA], 2014; Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs [CACREP], 2016). Additionally, the literature in counseling continues to echo previous findings highlighting the importance of planned, consistent, and effective training of counseling students on issues of spirituality (Bohecker, Schellenberg, & Silvey, 2017; Cashwell & Young, 2004; Hall, Burkholder, & Sterner, 2014; Kimbel & Schellenberg, 2014; Myers & Willard, 2003; Reiner & Dobmeier, 2014; Young, Wiggins-Frame, & Cashwell, 2007). Furthermore, there is a meaningful and corresponding link between spirituality and counseling as a profession (Hall, Burkholder, & Sterner, 2014). Some have found a sense of calling into counseling "as a function of [their] spiritual path" (Hall, Burkholder, & Sterner, 2014, p. 13), supporting previous mental health literature (Duffy, Bott, Allan, Torrey, & Dik, 2012; Freeman, 2007; Graff, 2007; Hirsbrunner, Loeffler, & Rompf, 2012; Prest, Russel, & D'Souza, 1999).

For more than two decades, the literature of the counseling profession has recognized the need to include spirituality in counselor training (Curtis & Glass, 2002; Dobmeier & Reiner, 2012; Pate & High, 1995). At present, research reveals an increase in this call into counseling, as counselor education programs play an important role and are vital to the training of competent professional counselors (Bishop, Avila-Juarbe, & Thumme, 2003; Bohecker, Schellenberg, & Silvey, 2017; Briggs & Rayle, 2005; CACREP, 2014; Cashwell & Young, 2004; Curtis & Glass, 2002; Dobmeier & Reiner, 2012; Hagedorn & Gutierrez, 2009; Kimbel & Schellenberg, 2014; Pate & Hall, 2005; Polanski, 2003; Reiner & Dobmeier, 2014; Young, Cashwell, Wiggins-Frame, & Belaire, 2002). Researchers found that students may understand the importance of spirituality and religion in counseling (Yocum, Silvey, Milacci, & Garzon, 2015) and at the same time are not comfortable discussing topics relating to spirituality and religion or the importance of their own spirituality (Henriksen et al., 2015; Prest et al., 1999; Reiner & Dobmeier, 2014; Souza, 2002). As a result of not including discussions of spirituality and religion in counselor training programs, counselors do not feel prepared to address spiritual or religious issues in counseling sessions (Adams, 2012; Henriksen et al. …

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