I personally believe a person’s faith can give us strength and guidelines to live better and more effective lives. As a faith based/ Christian Counselor my ethics dictate I should not try to impose my beliefs on you as a client and i should respect your beliefs. The only exception I would personally make would be if I felt your beliefs are harmful to you or another, in such case I would suggest you seek counseling from someone else.
My background is based on Christian beliefs and I went so far as to spend two years working on a Masters of Divinity degree before obtaining my Masters in Counseling degree. That is not to say that I am not comfortable or unwilling to work with persons of other faiths. In fact I have done extensive study and reading to better understand what other faiths teach. I often ask others from different backgrounds to explain to me what they believe and their understanding of how this applies to their current situation.
A good example of how this works is when working with couples and families I like to work from the assumption of what makes a family work is to treat each other with love as defined as the following:
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
1 Corinthians 13 (NIV)
This should be a bench mark by which how a family treats each other should be measured. I often at, least internally, question what someone means when they say they love someone where neither one of them are treating the other this way. I will ask them what their love means. Too often it is base only on an emotional warm feeling. We all know these warm feelings can come an go.
By Mark L Smith, LPC, LCSW