The Importance of Spirituality & Religion in Counseling / Therapy

Last Updated on February 14, 2024 by Lifevif Team and JC Franco

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When it comes to therapy and counseling, what sort of approach is best? Do you feel that spirituality and religion play an important role? These are questions that I have been considering for quite some time. I personally feel that spirituality has a great role to play in a counseling or therapy scenario; but, perhaps, there are those who would balk at this particular approach. Let’s take a look at how religion or spirituality can be important in counseling. There are quite a few things to consider.

15 points to consider regarding the importance of spirituality and religion in counseling/therapy:

  1. It inspires strength and long-suffering. 
  2. Belief systems can be used for problem-solving. 
  3. Ethical decisions can be based on belief systems.
  4. It provides life purpose and the ability to make sense of life.
  5. It can be used to better-thought processes and decision making.
  6. It promotes well-being and growth.
  7. Can be used to promote psychological and physical health.
  8. Belief systems ultimately affect behavior and reactions.
  9. It speaks to our human need to belong.
  10. It provides a sense of hope and something to look forward to.
  11. It provides something to hold onto.
  12. Religion develops a sense of purpose in life.
  13. Brings about a sense of inner peace and calm. 
  14. It makes accepting the unknown more possible.
  15. Belief systems lead to more balanced lifestyles. 

Reading those pointers might seem a little intense. If you are prone to spirituality and religion or have an interest in it, know that it can prove highly effective during counseling and therapy. One thing to be noted is that not having a “higher power” to believe in may actually deem spiritual or religious-based counseling irrelevant. Nonetheless, at the end of the day, spirituality or religion is not going to play an essential role in everyone’s counseling and therapy.

If you would like to understand these considerations and the importance of religion and counseling in a therapy or counseling scenario a little better, read on.

15 Things to Consider | Why Spirituality & Religion is Important in Counseling & Therapy

For people who have a spiritual or religious outlook, the importance of spirituality and religion in counseling and therapy is considered instrumental. Let’s take a closer look at the 15 reasons why religion and spirituality play an important role in the counseling and therapy processes. 

1. It inspires strength and long-suffering. 

Over the years, it has been evident in millions of people that having faith in a higher power can inspire strength and long-suffering in people. In fact, it is a big element in well-known counseling groups such as AA. Having a sense that the greater things in life and existence are out of our hands and in the hands of a being far greater than us actually gives us a sense of more control over our own lives and provides the ability to leave things out of our control to the higher power. 

2. Belief systems can be used for problem-solving. 

It goes without saying that spiritual and religious beliefs can help a person narrow down the possible solutions to problems they are experiencing. For instance, a person who belongs to a religion where divorce is not tolerable will probably put more time and effort into relationship or marriage counseling than someone who has no such belief. 

3. Ethical decisions can be based on belief systems.

Spirituality and religion are important for the making of ethical decisions. Someone who has spiritual and religious beliefs will try to live by that system’s ethical code, making it somewhat easier to make ethical decisions.

4. It provides life purpose and the ability to make sense of life.

Religion and spirituality help people make sense of life or life’s purpose. Most people have some form of existential crisis during therapy and counseling. They have hit a stumbling block in the road and don’t have the answers to many questions in their heads. This is often a focal point in counseling; and it is religion and spirituality that can help to quell these overwhelming feelings of frustration, confusion, and “being lost”.

5. It can be used to better-thought processes and decision making.

It has been seen that spiritual faith helps an individual get in touch with their power of feeling, thinking, deciding, and finally acting. In the end, all of these processes are involved in the overall decision-making process in life. 

6. It promotes well-being and growth.

For those with faith or spiritual depth, these beliefs have proven critical in promoting healing and well-being in many people. Psychologically, having a belief in something can help provide a point from where to grow.

7. Can be used to promote psychological and physical health.

Studies have suggested that spiritual faith, as well as spiritual values and behaviors, can promote well-being (psychologically and physically). The power of the mind is what is affected in this particular situation.

Mental Health Patient
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If someone believes that they have a higher power looking after their mental and physical health, it is that belief that can promote their overall health in the end. It is much the same as medical studies where 2 patients participate in a medical trial. One patient is given the placebo, and one patient is given the real medication. In many instances, patients receiving the placebo still experience the beneficial effects of the drug because they believe that it is working. 

8. Belief systems ultimately affect behavior and reactions.

Core beliefs and values affect behavior, and counseling can help clients gain insight into this. If a person is finding that they are behaving in a way that unnerves them or causes problems in their life, they can alter their behavior to align more with their belief system. Their beliefs and dedication to them can be used as leverage in their own lives.

9. It speaks to our human need to belong.

It is a common known psychological fact that as humans, we all have a deeply ingrained desire to belong. This is why humans need families, groups, clubs…it’s all about feeling part of a group or part of something. Religion or spirituality provides that group for someone to belong to. Everyone in the group has the same beliefs and ethics and work towards a common goal. A real sense of belonging is the outcome, which is actually quite a powerful feeling in someone’s life.

Just feeling like you belong can help you feel stronger in the most challenging situations because you have a support system of like-minded people ready to be there for you.

10. It provides a sense of hope and something to look forward to.

Most religious and spiritual practices focus on positive outlooks and hope. If a person has hope, they have “everything”. With hope, someone can do more, love more, and overcome more. 

11. It provides something to hold onto.

Having a spiritual belief system or religion to participate in provides someone with something to “hold onto” when overwhelmed or suffering. When someone feels as if they have nothing else in life, they will still have their faith, which has proven powerful. 

12. Religion develops a sense of purpose in life.

Religion teaches that we all have a part to play in this world. That we have a purpose and meaning; and even if it isn’t clear to us what that purpose is, we trust that the higher power has a plan for us. This can really be effective in counseling someone who feels lost or useless in life. People with depression or listlessness can benefit from believing that they have a purpose that is currently playing out and that they need to keep going in order for their purpose to be fulfilled.

13. Brings about a sense of inner peace and calm. 

Spirituality provides an outlet and a sense of peace in people who are suffering. Even when someone with faith has no one to talk to or turn to, they still have their faith and their higher power looking out for them. This is a great tool for treating people who feel alone or lonely. 

14. It makes accepting the unknown more possible.

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Having religion and spirituality helps people to accept the unknown and settle into it. Someone who believes in spirituality will have an understanding that not everything is obvious and that with time, the greater plan unfolds. This makes the unknown more of an acceptable part of life. Someone without faith may really struggle to deal with the fact that many things in life are unknown to us.

15. Belief systems lead to more balanced lifestyles. 

Religion and spirituality provide a set of “rules” for life, which helps people lead a more balanced lifestyle. For instance, someone who is Christian will try to follow the 10 commandments as closely as possible. Having a set of rules or guidelines to live by (whether strictly or loosely) really does provide a sense of mental and ethical clarity in a person’s life. 

Last Word

For those who believe in religion and spirituality, using both in a counseling or therapy session as a tool can be highly effective. Therefore, it’s important to take the time to get to know one’s religious and spiritual beliefs and understanding before embarking on a counseling or therapy course.

This article was co-authored by our team of in-house and freelance writers, and reviewed by our editors, who share their experiences and knowledge about the "Seven F's of Life".

JC Franco
Editor

JC Franco is a New York-based editor for Lifevif. He mainly focuses on content about faith, spirituality, personal growth, finance, and sports. He graduated from Mercyhurst University with a Bachelor’s degree in Business, majoring in Marketing. He is a certified tennis instructor who teaches in the New York City Metropolitan area. In terms of finance, he has passed the Level I exam of the CFA program.