Introduction and Background of Study
This project proposal on faith perspectives in Pastoral multicultural counseling includes a spiritual journey in relation to religious issues in counseling. The presentation is with an introduction and background, a description of counseling psychotherapy issues with review of literature offered with recommendations for employing integration of faith issues on spiritual disciplines. The proposal further presents intercultural counseling perspectives and spiritual issues that may impact effective guidance with discussions and analysis of balancing emotional and mental health. Pastoral counseling maintains spiritual balance from faith perspectives. Spirituality is expressed through prayers, rituals, symbols, dance and other art and representations. Prayers address themselves to every aspect of personal and community life. In prayer everything is summoned to offer praise to God. The overall learning’s from this proposal are ways to enhance understandings that the roles of Pastoral counseling has evolved into a significant means for helping people who need to look at how behavioral and emotional concerns have impact on spiritual lives with the promise that by faith, we have opportunities for positive outcomes in help and healing.
My autobiography explains aspects of my personal and professional background, including research interests. My name is Dr. Alusine M. Kanu. I am a native of Sierra Leone, West Africa. I migrated 35 years ago to the United States with the goal of furthering my education. I am a three-time graduate of George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia with course work in communication, human resource training and development (Interdisciplinary Studies) and a doctorate in Community College Education, with course work in Communication Instruction. I am currently pursuing a second doctorate (D.Ed.) in Pastoral Community Counseling at Argosy University. My career experiences include working as an elementary school teacher, a counselor, librarian, radio announcer and producer, public relations, legal research and instructor for “Training the Trainer.” In addition to 26 years’ experience teaching communication in the United States; I am a “Who’s Who” in North America. I am a full-time professor in Communication at Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale, Virginia, and I am adjunct faculty at George Mason University. I teach Introduction to Speech Communication, Interpersonal Communication, Small Group Communication, Public Speaking, Business Communication, Intercultural Communication, Organizational Communication, Mass Communication and Oral interpretation. My career development pursuit is that I am the visionary for the establishment of a community college system in Sierra Leone with Community College Centers in Kono, Lunsar, Makeni, and Pujehun. I am also CEO and founder of Alusine Multicultural Family Services program.
I am unique because I have had exposure to both individualistic and collectivist cultures. I am widowed with two children Hawanatu and Daniel and three grandchildren, Paul, Ester and Paula. I am the author of Reflections in Communication: an Interdisciplinary Approach, published by the University Press of America, and co-author of Connecting Intercultural Commun-ication: Techniques for Communicating across Cultures, with Kendall Hunt Publishing, Experiencing Interactive Interpersonal Communication with Xlibris and Faculty Development Programs: Strategies for Teaching and Learning with Iuniverse. My first doctoral dissertation, which is on ERIC, is Evaluating Teaching Effectiveness in Community College Settings.
Interest in Pastoral Community Counseling
My interests in practicing the profession of Pastoral community counseling includes acquired knowledge and practice of multicultural counseling and intercultural communication. Many aspects of therapeutic psychology can be used for practical application in spiritual directions. I believe psychological and spiritual developments are the same things because they are both an ongoing process. Both teach a sense of self-fulfillment and self-satisfaction. Spiritual development is built on divine grace. It relates primarily to a person’s willingness to respond openly to God and an equal willingness to embrace the truth. To grow spiritually means to grow in faith and trust. Psychology helps in understanding spirituality because both are phases in human growth and development. I believe religious and spiritual behavior, in terms of beliefs, attitudes, practices, and belonging, could be scientifically studied and assessed in terms of their relative good for human well-being. I consider contributions of counseling, religious commitment and spiritual practice to well-being as they relate to bodies of empirical and clinical research regarding development across the life cycle. I believe religion, spirituality, and positive psychology supports the view by many behavioral and analytical counselors that combined counseling and religious beliefs have strong healing power.
This author’s personal statement is based on intentional reflection of evolving spiritual development. Spiritual growth refers to the development and formation of the whole person by an intentional focus on increasing one’s self aware consciousness, self transcendence and transformation (Sperry, 2012). My awareness of self is related to my physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual self. My past and current faith perspectives include personal, family, religion, teaching, and advising and are reflective approaches. My engagement to these activities and processes produce results that are therapeutic. Traditions teach us that spirituality though often times invisible in our lives seem to follow us everywhere. From the moment we are born, we are initiated into a world that relies on many different rituals to guide us in developing human consciousness. The influences that come to play in my spiritual growth include prayer with efforts to know myself based on my thinking, acting and reflecting including practices of religion, ethics, meditation and a positive outlook. My spiritual history contains relevant information about the influences and determinants of my spiritual life and well being. The spiritual tradition of my parents is the Muslim tradition, a polygamist family of which I am the first of 27 siblings. Growing up in my family, we are taught to end all conversations with “if God agrees.” Though fear was part of growing up, the most important spiritual beliefs are kindness and belief in God. As an extended family, my learning’s include diplomacy and creating win win situations.
(Sperry, 2012) discusses stages of spiritual development. The first is the conformist stage characterized by a deeply felt and extensively rationalized world view, accepted on the basis of external authority and supported by approval of one’s significant others. The conformist assumes responsibility with awareness that because of unthinking adherence to an inherited worldview, one has actually abdicated responsibility for one’s life. The conscientious stage is characterized by the achievement of structuring life according to our understanding of things by optimism regarding a sense of responsibility for themselves and their world and by commitment to their principles. The compassionate stage is learning to surrender some of the world they have constructed for themselves. The cosmic stage is the stage where there is unfolding of habitual patterns of perception, cognition, interrelation, and all others become more fully authentic. They become more fully open to all that is, ever willing to change and adjusting as circumstances demand. Further analysis by Sperry shows spiritual growth is alive and responsive to the present moment, in touch with, the depths of our own selves, aware of the fullest implications of spiritual nature and harmony with themselves and all else.
The gift of discernment
The recurring theme that comes to mind with my spiritual experiences and have deepened my relationship with God and awareness of his ever loving nature is the gift of discernment. The social roles I play have made me to believe I have acquired skills and expertise of communicating, training and development, multicultural counseling and pastoral counseling. These skills have given me self discipline with a greater sense of consciousness. The enduring consequences are that I believe in God who has led me this far. My personal history, insights, self reflection, awareness, meaning making and action all play roles to my spiritual awareness. I have been gifted with the skill of tacking responses by analysis of situations and sharing observations with focus on the goals of interaction. The gift of discernment involves using my cognition to shift through vast amounts of data to understand issues and trends, a result of which I can understand most situations at hand and can offer a helping hand through social counseling and spiritual norms that helps to develop and sustain humanity.
An advantage to my use of discernment is in support of statements that explain it. My spiritual gift of discernment requires me to rely on my perceptions and to exercise judgment, in addition to using knowledge and skills. It also demands the constant examination of my internal experience in service to my work. The clear sight afforded through discernment is gained from the perspective of seeing the systems and I as an indivisible whole. As a pastoral counselor, I apply conviction in my judgments and have empathy for others. My discernment and spiritual approaches help me to transform minds from negative to positive and from unhappy to happy with unique identity and practices. The goals of my therapeutic alliances are to recognize the inseparability of theological and psychological practices in our common humanity with God’s representation. My spiritual growth is also related to my quest for understanding. I have developed the ability to use what is known to help others use what they know by supporting them in recognizing God’s presence in the process of change. Woskett cites Eagan’s (2006) skilled helper model of problem management and approach that applies an integrative framework to ones thinking. My spiritual quest guides my approach that it is necessary to understand problems before trying to change them. I also apply counseling approaches such as prayer, dialogue, the cognitive approach, the psychological focus and religious insights that enable functioning with focuses on spiritual, emotional, psychological, and acceptance of God’s grace. In application to self management, spirituality may mean being involved with organized religion, taking time to contemplate ones place in the ultimate order of things or focusing on the things that give life meaning, such as one’s family or social groups. A well developed self concept can be seen as part of the journey to become whole.
All the practices of efforts to know myself, my thinking, acting, reflecting, and practices of meditation are ways to develop positive thinking about spirituality. The effectiveness of positive thinking in human relationships is a solid contact with reality. Excellent review of research points to aspects of self affirmation theory (Aronson, 1999). According to self affirmation theory, thought and action are guided by a strong motivation to maintain an overall self image of moral adaptive adequacy. We want to see ourselves as good and capable and be able to predict and control outcomes. An added view of my spirituality has to do with emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence refers to a person’s ability to “perceive and accurately express emotion, to use emotion to facilitate thought, understand emotion, and manage emotions for emotional growth” (Brackett, 2004). Research shows that people who can accurately identify which emotion they are feeling—whether it is anger, nervousness, sadness, shame or guilt, for instance are best equipped to manage emotions in productive ways. I listen to my body, pay attention to thoughts, take stock of situations, engage in perception checking, and accept responsibility for emotions. Another practical lesson is my ability to be flexible and feel refreshed by connecting the mind and body while cultivating self love.
My spiritual development has quickened the life of faith, of love of God and our neighbor. It quickens my sense of duty and responsibility as people and above all, making me gentler, more understanding, by facing my experiences calmly without letting the pinpricks of life affect me less or not at all. Looking back from where I started and my accomplishments and varied cultural experiences, I can honestly say my personality has been altered from extrovert to introvert or verse verse with an almost permanent condition of euphoria, or contentedness. My spiritual development can best be summed up with the evolutionary spectrum model and the developmental spectrum (Wilber, 1999). I have gone from immediate fulfillment of instinctual needs and went through phases of inability to distinguish the part from the whole because of exposure to multiple cultures particularly collective and individualistic. I have assimilated values and ideas about the social groups I belong with, identify self worth drawn from family, ethnic community and religious community. I have also developed reflective self consciousness with the capacity for logical reasoning and a sense of personal responsibility. My intuitive consciousness is characterized by harmony, cooperation, forgiveness, negotiation to resolve differences, mutuality rather than competitiveness and infusing the experience of divine love into all my interactions with family, friends, and workplace, professional and in intimate relationships.
Literature Review on spirituality and psychology
The following review of literature offers research perspectives in the areas of spirituality and psychology. The content analysis presents valuable research information with an integrative approach to the application of theological and psychological practices followed by my beliefs of how helpful they are in pastoral counseling practice. McMinn, Mark R. & Campbell, Clark D. (2007) in Integrative Psychotherapy: Toward a Christian Approach. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic presents views that every crux of every life is the question of transformation. What causes a person to move from point A to point B? How does a cantankerous, difficult person evolve into a person with solid friendships and new social graces? How does a problem drinker reduce alcohol consumption? Why does depression give way to hope, and anxiety to peace? How does a person learn to draw near to God in prayer? How can people learn to handle anger better, or lust, or greed, or contempt? These questions are for spiritual leaders and pastoral counselors. Care of souls is caring for people in ways that not only acknowledge them as persons but also engage and address them in the deepest and most profoundly human and spiritual and aspects of their lives. The foundation of pastoral care and counseling is to be found in a quality that includes but which also goes beyond acceptance and empathy, namely compassionate availability. At least five forms of soul care should be a part of the life of a church: Christian friendship, pastoral ministry, pastoral care, pastoral counseling, and spiritual direction.
Sandars, T. (2010) explains that spiritual formation is an important topic for Christian education. It provides insight and research into the increasingly popular field of psychology, specifically into spirituality and religion. Religion and spirituality not only have to do with thinking, but also with emotion. Emotion leads the discussion of its role as sacred in spiritual transformation. I believe the article is useful to pastoral counseling practices. Of particular reference are the relationship between psychology and spiritual-ity. Many aspects of therapeutic psychology can be used for practical application in spiritual directions. I believe psychological and spiritual development is the same things because they are both an ongoing process. Both teach a sense of self-fulfillment and self-satisfaction. Spiritual development is built on divine grace. It relates primarily to a person’s willingness to respond openly to God and an equal willingness to embrace the truth. To grow spiritually means to grow in faith and trust and to reduce self-defeating anxieties. Psychology helps in understanding spirituality because both are phases in human growth and development.
Day’s (2010) article points out that religious and spiritual behavior, in terms of beliefs, attitudes, practices, and belonging, could be scientifically studied and assessed in terms of their relative good or ill for human well-being. The article considers contributions of religious commitment and spiritual practice to well-being and cognitive developmental models and related bodies of empirical and clinical research regarding religious and spiritual development across the life cycle, with attention to positive adult development. The article on religion, spirituality, and positive psychology supports the view by many behavioral and analytical counselors that religious beliefs may have strong healing power. Cognitive therapy’s approach is an investigative orientation based on a sys-tematic process of discovery that initially appears to be incompatible with religious views. However, once there is the acceptance that religion is actually based on know-ledge and concepts that have been derived from examining Holy Scriptures with its own frame of reference, an integrative approach emerged between cognitive behavior and religion. The premise of cognitive behavior therapy includes the reorganization of an individual’s own statements and beliefs to develop congruence with his or her behavior. A relation, therefore, exists between cognition, emotions, and behaviors that create cause-effect in how individuals’ experiences, including religious views and values, are affected. A combined treatment approach shows that counseling requires a healing atmosphere that generates hope and growth in clients. The purpose of the Christian is to love God with all the heart, mind, and soul.
Thorne’s (2011) article cites research studies on how scientific background has led to the conviction that we have entered the era of a new psycho spiritual paradigm where heart and mind must interact in harmony as a “soul” if there is to be a real under-standing of mental health and anything approaching a reconciliation of science and spirituality in the health care system and elsewhere. The article points out that the vision of a world relates to spiritual values that prevail over material values. The beliefs are that human beings are capable of astonishing things once they recognize that they are spiritual beings leading human lives. Values are an important part of counseling. By identifying the patient’s process of interpreting and understanding religious principles and teaching and leading to behavior associated with assumptions, alternative religious concepts about their thinking, one can understand the thought processes and replace inflexible thoughts with adaptive ones.
Lambert, N., Fincham, F. and Graham, S. (2011) cite numerous studies on prayer that benefits relationships, physical and mental health, and overall well-being. They explained that given the practical benefits of prayer, understanding how lay persons conceive of prayer could supply valuable information to practicing clinicians and researchers seeking to establish a more nuanced understanding on what qualities of prayer contribute to its benefits. The study captures how laypersons “conceive of prayer” and illuminates why prayer is beneficial. It also offers helpful information about prayers to clinicians working with religious clients related to the subject of prayer. Weld (2007) reports that because of considerations for mental health practitioners, spiritual interventions, including prayer, are now frequently used in counseling. Weld reports that historically, religion and psychology have been mutually exclusive disciplines, each field relying on competing theoretical assumptions. The situation is changing, and spiritual issues have been deemed worthy subjects of study and research (Wolf and Stevens, 2001). Integrating spirituality and psychology is wide-spread among Christian counselors, among whom prayer is the most commonly used spiritual intervention. The research results point to the need for sensitivity around spiritual issues and for spiritual assessment to help to determine client expectations.
Spiritual Issues for Pastoral Counselors
The practice of Pastoral counseling raises many spiritual issues. Spiritual issues for Pastoral counselors affect ability to provide guidance to clients. Personal crises such as dual relationships may affect how to work with clients and reduce the risk for malpractice. In the practice of counseling, Pastoral counselors are to keep therapeutic relationships separate from other relationships. Though multiple relationships may be inescapable because of role blending, one has to determine whether or not entering dual relationships is beneficial or harmful. Dual relationships refer to any situation where multiple roles exist between a counselor and a client. Multiple relationships may occur because of the pastoral counselor’s presence in previous familial, social, emotional, financial, supervisory, political, or legal relationship. Reasonable steps must therefore be taken to ensure that if such a multiple relationship occurs, it is not exploitative of the client. The ethics code of the American Psychological Association (1992) states that multiple relationships may be unavoidable and recommends that therapists remain aware of the potentially harmful consequences. They recommend refraining from multiple relationships if harm may occur. The ethics codes recommend avoidance of multiple relationships that exploit or harm clients.
The diverse faces of identity of pastoral counselors refer to the different roles they play in different contexts. These roles create a dual consciousness. Starosta (2000) refers to identity as a social character that is fluid, mobile, colliding, and susceptible to change, and open to variation. Moreover, identity requires the involvement of affection. In certain situations one might strongly claim one’s pastoral counseling identity to assure the psychological balance. A balance should exist because dual relationships might impair the pastoral counselor’s objectivity and professional judgment. Pastoral counselors who offer counseling to their counselees automatically create a similar dual relationship. Because pastoral counselors are often considered “friend, teacher, spiritual adviser, shepherd, and sometimes coworker to counselees (Parent, 2005, p. 8), they must be able to quickly adapt to different social expectations, circumstances, and levels of intimacy. This flexibility is necessary to provide overall needs. Welfel (2002) explains that solutions should include creating boundaries that provide structure for the counseling process, safety for the client, and the required emotional distance for effective therapeutic work” (p. 155). Counselors should erect boundaries around their work and their clients to protect ambiguity and personal risk. It is useful to evaluate the potential for harm to the client and to ensure confidentiality and maybe ask for a reversal of roles. Corey (1993) adds that counselors must see how their own humanity contributes to the success of their counseling. It is essential to note that pastoral counselors can be sued for malpractice.
There are vulnerabilities to persecution, civil or ecclesiastical. Therefore, practitioners in Pastoral counseling should take steps to minimize the risk. Modern pastoral counseling takes very seriously the tremendous moral, ethical, professional, clinical, and legal responsibility of those who counsel others. Malpractice is related to a lack of professional skill and failure to exercise reasonable professional care directed against the claimant seeking such services. Pastoral counselors are representatives of the central images of life and its meaning, affirmed by their religious communities. Pastoral counseling offers a relationship to the understanding of life and faith. Pastoral counseling uses both psychological and theological resources to deepen its understanding of the pastoral relationship (Hunter, 2005). Issues of concern that are ethical are those of confidentiality, penitent privilege, and dual relationships. Clinical integrity and effectiveness should be of paramount concern for practitioners concerning interactions in counseling relationships.
Practitioners should always remember that they are setting an example. At the heart of all ethical guidelines is the mandate that pastoral counselors act on the client’s behalf and avoid harm. That means one must do what is helpful, including dual relationships when appropriate. According to Pastor D. Middlebrook (2011), confidentiality is an ethical and often legal responsibility to safeguard pastoral counselees from unauthorized disclosures of information given to them by congregation members. It has been known in recent years for people to bring lawsuits against pastors for invasion of privacy and other items arising out of disclosure of confidential information. Maintaining confidentiality is therefore a moral and legal obligation. Though there are certain circumstances under which a dis-closure of information is not only necessary, but is required, unauthorized disclosures of confidential information can give rise to liability; therefore pastoral counselors must explore and understand the parameters of responsibility to disclose or not to disclose confidential information, depending on circumstances.
According to the American Association of Christian Counselors: Code of Ethics, dual relationships involve the breakdown of proper professional or ministerial boundaries. A dual relationship is where two or more roles are mixed in a manner that can harm the counseling relationship. Examples include personal, financial, or sexual and romantic relations. Dual relationships are unethical if there is client exploitation. Craig (1991) asserts that “ethical counselors cultivate unambiguous relationships—unethical counselors cultivate dual relationships” (p. 49). The key for pastoral counselors is to be well informed and to think critically while keeping in mind the simple objective of best serving the client. The clergy-penitent privilege applies to those who provide “qualified services.” Communication which is shared by a counselee with a pastoral counselor is privileged if (1) the counselee seeks out the pastoral counselor, (2) the pastoral counselor is acting in his or her professional capacity as a spiritual advisor, and (3) there are no third parties present. The clergy-penitent privilege prevents clergy or pastoral counselors from being required to disclose confidential communications in a court proceeding. This privilege belongs to the person who disclosed the information and is designed for his protection, rather than for the protection of the clergy. An exception is in a parent-child relationship. If the counseling is pastoral or spiritual counseling only, in many states the only exception to divulging information is for reporting child abuse.
To meet with ethical guidelines that help to minimize risks, the American Psychological Association Ethics Code (2002) explains that a multiple relationship occurs when a psychologist is in a professional role with a person and at the same time is in another role with the same person, at the same time is in an relationship with a person closely associated with or related to the person with whom the psychologist has the professional relationship, or promises to enter into another relationship in the future with the person or with a person closely associated with or related to that person. APA states that one should refrain from entering into a multiple relationship if the multiple relation-ships could reasonably be expected to impair the objectivity, competence, or effectiveness of the therapeutic alliance. To maintain protection and minimize risks it is important to be credentialed. Professional activity must routinely include the services of a faith system. Since my faith includes Jesus Christ as the basis of my counseling, I will talk about Jesus Christ in counseling sessions. The professional roles I play in communities and activities such as volunteering, teaching, counseling and worshiping all add to being perceived with the credibility as a competent, trustworthy, and ethical pastoral counselor. Communication effectiveness is important in the profession of pastoral counseling. To be effective, one must be able to express and evaluate the ethical and logical strengths of counseling diagnosis and interventions that come up in practices. When we take the perspective of counselees, we try to grasp what their perceptions and meanings are. This allows us to gain some insight into their point of view, so we can communicate more effectively with them. Pastoral peers are also an important source of personal and practical support for pastoral counselors. Our peer relationships are not simply professional, they are often intensely personal. When we communicate with collegial peers, we talk about work and personal issues, and we feel moderate level of trust toward these individuals. It is basic and important that Pastoral counselors are aware of ethical issues of confidentiality, clergy-penitent privilege and dual relationships. When the pastoral counselor listens and talks to counselees, peers, and actively participates in community relations, ideas are shared, each others position are sometimes questioned, and there is collaboration to build individuals and communities that are stronger.
Ensuring Emotional and Spiritual Balance
Ensuring emotional health and spiritual balance are significant aspects of Pastoral counseling. Ones emotional health may affect spiritual balance and affects spiritual practice. Matters of importance are best handled when we don’t let our emotions and those of others totally influence or affect us. It is therefore applicable to know our feelings and to recognize our emotions. Learning how to transform, and appropriately use emotions is the basis of emotional wisdom. There are relations between emotions, physical reactions and cognition’s. For example the emotions of joy, anger and sadness may lead to physical reactions which in turn affect cognition’s such as recognition of incoming stimuli, using the meaning of these stimuli to guide our thoughts and actions and our conscious awareness. Emotions can sometimes be likened to a computer in which a single action can trigger a whole series of responses that are designed to achieve happiness through the satisfaction of demands. Emotional intelligence is operative at the cognitive/ intellectual level or level of the mind, whereas spiritual intelligence is operative at the consciousness level or beyond the mind. The objective is to put things into proper perspective while exploring the common ground between spiritual and emotional intelligence.
My emotional intelligence includes being able to think about and reflect on my emotions. I can express my emotions to others. I can understand the causes and effects of my emotions and can use my emotions to improve my relationships. I am able to experience both positive and negative emotions and can accurately identify the emotions other people are feeling. I also know the difference between emotions and moods and can reorganize my thoughts on the basis of what I am feeling and overall, I can manage my emotions effectively. I am in favor of communicating feelings and emotions. I believe expressing feelings is healthy; it reduces stress and prevents wasting energy on concealment. Expressing feelings helps in being understood. Competence in expressing emotion, listening and responding to emotional communication of others is critical to success in the therapeutic alliance. According to Daniel Goleman (1998), the basic definition of emotional intelligence can be broken down into five parts: (1) self awareness, the ability and need to understand emotions, knowing what these emotions are, and acknowledging feelings; (2) need management, the ability to handle emotions in a mature way that is relevant and appropriate to the situation; (3) self motivation, remaining focused on the goal despite the level of self doubt and impulsiveness; (4) empathy, the ability to tune into the feelings of others and effectively understanding them pretty much the same way as they understand themselves; and (5) managing relationships, the ability to handle conflict negotiations and third party mediation. In Current Directions in Psychological Science of emotional intelligence, Salovey and Grewal (2005, p 14) explain the ability based on model as it relates to perceiving emotions, using emotions, understanding emotions, and managing emotions.
Because emotions tend to rule a seekers life, transforming ones emotion is an essential spiritual practice. The great religions and spiritual traditions indicate three ways in which this occurs. (1) by mastering and reducing toxic and painful effects such as fear and anger, (2) by fostering positive attitudes such as gratitude and generosity and (3) by cultivating positive emotions such as love and compassion (Sperry , 2011). Spiritual education therefore implies the existence of an emotional relationship with the divine or personal object of one’s worship and devotions called God, Allah, Yahweh, Heaven, and Tao etc. Prayer is an emotional engagement and relations process. More research is needed into the physical, mental and spiritual powers of prayer and meditation. The process of personal devotion, prayer, prayerful meditation and religious fervor and experience also utilizes the same attachment elements that help create pathways responsible for emotional mastery. An early habit of prayer and prayerful meditation accelerates the person’s ability for emotional regulation. Emotional regulation is at the heart of effective character development and education, self restraint, self mastery and development of divine virtues. The effects of emotional intelligence on a clients spiritual perspective centers around the view that being spiritual has been equated with being open, given, compassionate, or what we imagine as holy in one’s behavior, and usually with being more unflappable. This way of thinking is easier for a pastoral counselor to grasp, since it is consistent with biblical instruction on the way we should live and love. The spiritual mandate is to relate to one another in love with patience, self control, and kindness.
Faith Perspectives in Multicultural Counseling
On multicultural sensitivities in “Issues and Ethics in the Helping Professions,” Corey and Corey (2010) present discussions of relevant issues of counseling the multicultural, including religious views. A methodological approach is necessary for balancing proper sensitivity to diverse populations and the role of representing God in a theological perspective with analysis will be presented. A construct of pastoral care and counseling theology based on discussions of faith and reasoning of counseling the multicultural are added goals. A multicultural sensitive design for a multicultural counseling program has objectives of helping counselees to (1) develop a multicultural perspective, (2) understand barriers to effective multicultural counseling, (3) become familiar with current issues and concepts in multicultural counseling, (4) develop skills and strategies for counseling multicultural and specific populations, and (5) apply theoretical concepts to multicultural counseling.
With practical experiences in counseling settings, awareness of ethical, legal, and spiritual factors in counseling develops. The dedication is to create programs where counselees’ diversity is respected, shared, and demonstrates essential skills, including problem solving, wellness, and social interaction through challenging individually- and group-oriented programs. The counselor’s role in understanding multicultural sensitivities is of great importance. The counselor has influence over the counselee with his or her values. For instance the most profound and significant cultural manifestation of Islam is how it is a complete way of life. In Islam, religion and social views encompasses a multidimensional system of beliefs that embraces the spiritual and the material, the divine and the earthly, the heavenly soul and the mortal worldly deeds (United Nations Development Program 2003). At the heart of the Islamic view founded by the prophet Mohamed are four articles of faith. They are one God, the belief that submission grows out of the overarching precept of one God, the belief in the supremacy of God and that events in life are predestined by the will of Allah, and that on the day of judgment, Muslims will stand before God and be judged. The five pillars of Islam are (1) statement of belief (2) prayer (3) alms (4) fasting and (5) pilgrimage. For Muslims, the Koran is the most sacred of all texts.
The intercultural competent Pastoral counselor judges each individual on a person-to-person basis, rather than categorizing such people into stereotypes. Stereo-typing keeps one from making fair and honest judgments about people. Stereotyping is a generalization about some group of people that oversimplifies their culture. Many ste-reotypes are completely incorrect, and others greatly distort reality. A stereotype is often self-fulfilling. If we accept a stereotype as an accurate description, we tend to see evi-dence that supports it and to overlook the frequent exceptions to it. We learn stereotypes as part of our culture. Forming codes and thinking in terms of categories is a necessary aspect of human communication. Culturally sensitive individuals guard against the dangers of thinking in stereotypes; they remain flexible in changing these classifications. Culturally competent people use stereotypes as tools with limited functions. Cultural relativism means questioning existing stereotypes. Communication variables that might help to reduce particularly negative stereotypes are to ensure communication accuracy, active listening, dialogic listening, mediated communication, dialogue and respectful communication.
My theoretical integration of interreligious counseling attempts to bring various theories together through the development of a theoretical framework that can explain the environmental, motivational, cognitive, and affective domains of an individual. With integrationist, as well as with other psychologists truth is changeable. New truth replaces old truth as new truth is theorized, conceived, or discovered. Psychotherapy integration includes harmonious efforts to connect affective, cognitive, and behavioral and systems approaches under a single theory, and the application of this theory to the treatment of individuals, couples, and families. The notion integrates diverse models of human functioning (Goldfried, 1995). Since humans are integrated beings, an integrative approach to counseling focuses on thinking, feeling, and acting. Such a combination is necessary to help clients think about their beliefs and assumptions, to experience on a feeling level their conflicts and struggles, and to translate insights into action programs. Integrative case conceptualization builds upon a multiple challenges comprehensive framework. Integrative theoretical framework is designed to facilitate an understanding of the risks and opportunities associated with the developmental pathways of multiple challenges of families. Because no one theory has a patent on the truth, and because no single set of counseling techniques is always effective in working with diverse client populations, some writers think that it is sensible to cross boundaries by developing integrative approaches as the basis of for future counseling practice (Lazarus, 1996).
Practitioners who are open to integrative perspectives find that several theories play a crucial role in counseling approaches. Each theory has its own contributions and its own domain of expertise. By accepting that each theory has strengths and weaknesses and is by definition different from the others, practitioners have some basis to begin developing a theory that fits for them. It is important to emphasize that unless counselors have an accurate, in-depth knowledge of theories, they cannot formulate a true synthesis (Norcross and Newman, 1992). Selection of interventions should be guided by their assessment of the client. A number of supervision techniques have been proposed to ensure that the cultural dimension is addressed. Bernard and Goodyear (1992) planned discussion of culture and the culture of counseling, exploration of supervisee and supervisor cultural backgrounds, modeling by the supervisor, inclusion of cultural considerations on all intake, case management, and other written supervision reports, and experiential exer-cises are methods that can be used in individual and group supervision. Sue (1992) recommends that all supervisors work with supervisees from racial ethnic groups other than their own and receive supervision for multicultural supervision. Conceptualizing clients from a multicultural perspective means that counselors are (a) aware of and can integrate the impact of various cultural factors on clients presenting issues and (b) able to articulate an appropriate treatment plan for working with clients based on knowledge (Constantine and Ladny, 2001). In particular, counselors’ theoretical orientation may impact the ways in which they make sense of issues affecting culturally diverse indi-viduals. Counseling theoretical orientations that have been presented include psycho-dynamic, humanistic, and cognitive-behavioral theories. Eclectic counseling approaches have been increasingly popular because they utilize a primary theoretical orientation, but may borrow techniques from other theoretical orientations based on their proven efficacy (Lazarus and Beutler, 1993).
To balance multicultural sensitivities and counseling across religions is to capitalize on what we already do. When possible, it is useful to use the therapeutic alliance by designing learning tech-niques that capture many counselees’ experiences. It is important in counseling and learning to pay attention to different learning styles and needs of multicultural counselees in helping all to succeed. Another strategy is to create diverse groups when counselees work on team projects, thus improving their cultural sensitivity and tolerance. What is genuinely and intentionally multicultural would be providing members a diverse group environment where there is active participation in the diverse environment and where social and cultural awareness is an implicit and legitimate academic norm. As pastoral counselors committed to multiculturalism, we emphasize recognition and respect differences and acknowledge the need to find common ground with those unlike our-selves. We can help our counselees think critically about the world they live in, including how systems of power can be used for promoting progress in a more egalitarian and humane society. The ethical code of the American Psychological Association (2003) states that “Psychologists are aware of cultural, individual, and role differences, including those to age, religion, gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and national origin” (p. 377). An ethical imperative is necessary to attain cultural competence. Increasing cultural competence at a fundamental, ethical level is the right thing to do. Effective multicultural education entails an ethical commitment to work toward the repair of the world. As counselors, we have an ethical obligation to help equip students not only to live and work in an increas-ingly diverse and multicultural world, but also to join us to make the world more just and peaceful. Ethical guidelines continue to evolve to reflect how we apply moral principles to our lives, and our lives must include those who are presently marginalized in society. To lead we must address the diversity of people in all aspects of society with genuine respect and caring.
Approaches to Multicultural Counseling
Religious diversity is more than geographical location. There are many constituents of diversity. They include age, as the age range in the group affects the group. Addition-ally, diversity includes gender with regard to whether in group’s men and women have equal opportunities to interact with one another. Diversity includes orientations in terms of how open group members are about their religious identity. Are they comfortable inter-acting with members of a different religious orientation? Diversity includes physical ability in terms of how members deal with challenges of any of the group members. Ethnicity and race are also diversity issues. They include how well groups acknowledge and deal with racial differences and ethnic backgrounds. Religion is also a diversity issue that is a passionately defended view of culture. With diversity it is useful to understand, respect, and adapt to members’ religious practices and beliefs (Gardenswartz, 1997)
Approaches to cognitive behavior therapy with regard to diversity include inclusion, ideation, understanding and treatment. If someone is not included in the main- stream, counselors should try to get information or make requests to find ways to help them. In terms of ideation when people from different backgrounds are together in groups, all ideas should be acknowledged. It is also a good idea to get people involved in projects that require them to balance ideas from different genders, ethnicities and racial points of view and to make it easy for individuals from different backgrounds to get their ideas across. Counselees should be taught to be good listeners with open minds to the ideas presented by those of another culture with regards to constituents of culture. Cultural sensitivity in cognitive behavior therapy should consist of having an awareness and understanding of attitudes and ways of behaving. Cultural differences should also be acknowledged in cognitive behavior therapy. It’s crucial to discuss global goals such as world peace, economic growth as well as effective interpersonal communication (DeVito, 2009). Without cultural sensitivity there can be no effective communication between people who are different in gender, race, ethnicity, nationality or other orientations. Guidelines for effective cognitive behavior therapy constitute advice for achieving cultural sensitivity when dealing with diversity. This includes reading and listening carefully for culturally influenced behaviors.
The Anxiety and Uncertainty Management Model by Gudykunst (2005) asserts that the primary characteristic of relationships in intercultural adaptation is coping with ambiguity. The goal in cognitive behavior therapy is to reduce anxiety and seek infor-mation through a process known as uncertainty reduction. Predictive uncertainty is the inability to predict what someone will say or do. We all know how important it is to be relatively sure how people will respond to us. Explanatory uncertainty is the inability to explain why people behave as they do. In any interaction, it is important not only to predict how someone will behave, but also to explain why the person behaves in a par-ticular way. Migrants also may need to reduce anxiety that is present in intercultural contexts. Some level of anxiety is optimal during an interaction. Too little anxiety may convey that we don’t care about the person, and too much causes us to focus only on the anxiety, and not on the interaction. Effective cognitive behavior therapy should enable the client to manage anxiety and predict and explain others’ behaviors. Helping clients to have a solid self-concept and self-esteem and have flexible attitudes, with concerns for (tolerance of ambiguity, empathy), being flexible in the categorization of others, (being able to identify similarities and differences and avoiding stereotypes) are good appli-cations of cognitive behavior therapy. Of course these principles may operate differently according to the cultural context (Martin and Nakayama, 2010).
The role of Pastoral counselors with the same or other religions is didactic, guiding, and collaborating. It is important that counselors set goals and provide rationales for interventions. Counselors model adaptive social skills, coach counselees to practice skills, create a safe and supportive environment with directness, firm control of sessions, and monitor the use of time. In assessment and treatment planning, counselors identify concerns of counselees; clarify characteristics of the individuals and environment that contribute to concerns, character traits, individually oriented needs and values. The goals in counseling are to find out what we know and what we do not know. Much of multicultural counseling addresses issues of culture shock. Culture shock happens to almost everyone in intercultural transitions. The challenges of transitions in new cultural contexts affect culture shock. Behaviors of culture shock include feelings of disorientation, of discomfort because of unfamiliarity of surroundings, and lack of familiar cues in the environment. Causes of culture shock include lack of familiar signs, communication breakdowns and personal crises, and having to adjust by learning rules and customs of the new cultural context. Counseling the multicultural include personal development of cultural adjustment, that is, feelings of comfort in the host culture, identification, which is having a sense of belonging in the host culture, developing cultural competence with willingness to increase knowledge base. Added Pastoral counseling roles are enculturation by helping counselees to adopt useful sets of behaviors, and emotional resilience by helping counselees keep self-esteem in the face of the unfamiliar and maintaining flexibility or openness in developing and maintaining relationships, being tolerant of others and finding comfort with all kinds of people and maintaining a strong sense of identity.
This proposal has included background and introduction, description of counseling and psychotherapy with a review of literature, faith perspectives in counseling, integrating spiritual disciplines and counseling including counseling from a non Christian faith perspective and balancing emotional or spiritual health. Counseling treatment is not something that is done to the client by an expert, rather it is a collaborative process in which the counselor assists the client in exploring the way his or her particular beliefs and behavior distress. The counseling treatment is done with the client to develop a plan to examine and modify beliefs and behaviors as needed. In treating individuals from diverse religions, it is good for counselors to have honest assessments in information gathering. Educating the counselee to understand the impact of religion, culture, economic privilege and cultural disadvantages such as poverty should be added goals. Thematic issues that vary across cultural groups to be addressed in counseling include religious beliefs, health beliefs, self-identification, individualism and collectivism issues, communication styles, counseling goals, immigrant or refugee status, and family structure. Competent multicultural counselors also consult on assumptions of race and ethnicity, issues of multiple identities and flexibility in treatment. As a function, Pastoral counseling guides in coping with physical, emotional, or moral overstress as well as coping with crises of meaning by addressing spiritual or religious needs and dealing effectively with personal crises.
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