In this meta-analysis of integration of spirituality and religion in the counseling field, the authors seek to understand the skills and attitudes needed to integrate these variables into counseling. Among those that were studied are awareness of one’s own culture and heritage, respect for the diversity found in people concerning spirituality and religion and recognition of one’s helping style and how it may be perceived by clients (Walker, Gorsuch, & Tan, 2004).
A difficulty that has occurred commonly is that a definition of spirituality cannot be agreed on. In a broad explanation of both religion as well as spirituality, religion constitutes the organization of faith, implementing prayer, ministry and theology. Spirituality could be viewed as a more individualized experience with a higher being, creator or idea (Walker et al., 2004, p. 70). These expressions allow a vision of client diversity that is found in all counseling classifications. While defining religion and spirituality properly seems trivial, when training counselors to properly apply the use of such variables in their therapies, a concrete explanation is imperative.
According to Walker, Gorsuch and Tan, there are two methods that psychologists and counselors use to integrate spirituality and religion into their practice; explicit and implicit integration. Explicit integration is specifically using prayer and biblical teachings in counseling sessions. Counselors who are not trained or have experience in practices used in explicit integration exercise implicit integration which does not apply these variables in therapies but rather use theological resources to provide moral value in counseling (2004, pg. 71).
By comparing and contrasting 26 correlational studies that included 5,759 therapists, implementation of spirituality and religion in counseling, the authors of this article painted a relatively accurate picture of the practice. An explanation of use of correlation studies in meta-analysis explains that often by doing so is to create conservative estimates or a down ward bias. This means that statistics presented in this meta-analysis may actually be higher than actual calculations prove.
Inquiries that seemed relevant for this study included personal religious and spiritual beliefs of therapists, how therapists use their personal religious and spiritual beliefs in their use of explicit integration therapies, and comparison in samples that encompassed explicit integration therapists with samples that mixed secular and religious therapists as well as diverse professional backgrounds that may lead to more or less acceptance of various cultures (Walker et al., 2004, p. 72). These queries touch on the various cultures, religions, beliefs and ideologies that encompass the United States and how important it is for psychologists and counselors to have proper training when using religion and spirituality in order to acknowledge and respect all philosophies....