Spirituality is a deep, personal set of beliefs that are often extremely important to the individual holding them. It can form a foundation every bit as important as physical health or financial success. For that reason, when a person finds themselves in a spiritual crisis, they may begin to seek out a professional adviser who can help them through this troubling time. That is where the role of spiritual or transpersonal psychology comes into play. A spiritual psychologist is a type of counsellor uniquely suited to addressing the needs of those finding themselves seeking guidance, reassurance or simply to work through the meaning of their own spiritual lives.
While there are certainly religious authority figures already doing work of this kind, a spiritual psychologist might be sought out for any number of reasons. For one thing, seeing as how they are not authority figures, there may be more of an inherent comfort level among those seeking their guidance. Another reason might be because a person is seeking non denominational, spiritual help, and does not want to rely on the teachings of any one religion over another. However they come to be of assistance, those studying spiritual psychology believe that there is a higher power or force above ourselves, and that they can help those seeking that connection through counsel and guidance.
Why Do We Need Spiritual Psychology?
They are just another type of specialized help for those who need it. Just like there are family psychologists, school psychologists, etc. they each chose to focus on something especially important to them, so that they could help others through their situations. When we are children, we are sometimes raised on a particular faith (or no faith at all), but as we grow we begin to question and wonder about those beliefs we held when we were young. Do they hold up now? Do we still believe?
For some people, this upheaval is difficult to navigate on their own, and they might wish to seek out some help. Asking the minister, priest or other authority figure they grew up with might be awkward, especially if the individual feels themselves turning away from that particular faith. While it is true that some spiritual psychologists do choose to align themselves with a certain belief system, others feel more comfortable helping those of all faiths. A non denominational psychologist might appeal to them, because they do not want to be steered one way or the other.
How Could a Spiritual Psychologist Help Me?
A spiritual counselor is usually able and willing to help guide and advise their clients on every type of life matter, be they spiritual in nature or not. To that end, you may go to them with any type of issue you would take to another psychologist. If you are struggling with depression, for instance, they would absolutely be qualified to assist you in that matter, just like any other psychologist would. In fact, a psychologist would be far more qualified to help identify any mental disorders than a religious leader would (although the religious leader could absolutely help get you to someone who can help).
The services you receive from a spiritual psychologist will largely be determined by your needs. For the most part, people who go to this type of professional are looking for some sort of spiritual or religious aspect to their counseling, but that does not necessarily have to be the case. For many people, the problems they are facing seem to be closely tied into their personal beliefs. If they are struggling with an unhappy relationship for instance, they might look to a higher power for the answers, while also seeking help from a person they can speak to, physically.
Sometimes, problems we encounter seem to be a direct result of a crisis of faith, or a need for spiritual fulfillment. In these cases, a spiritual psychologist might be able to offer the perfect blend of working through the immediacy of the worldly issues in front of you, while still reconciling what it all means for you in a spiritual sense. Whether the psychologist chooses to use prayer or meditation in their counseling sessions will depend on what you are most comfortable with as a client.
What Can I Expect When Meeting With a Spiritual Psychologist?
First and foremost, you can expect to not be judged. Whatever brought you to seek their advice, they will try to help you in any way they can. So long as you are not threatening harm to others or yourself, you can expect that you will not be looked at in terms of “right and wrong”. Just like with any other psychologist, there will be confidentiality, and professionalism.
You can also expect to be taken very seriously. An extremely important aspect of the client / counselor relationship is that there be a good, open rapport there. Ideally, the relationship you build with your counselor should be as solid and respectful as any friendship you might have.
Lastly, you can expect to build a plan together, as client and psychologist. If reaching a greater spiritual understanding is your goal, then that is what the two of you will work towards whenever you meet. If your goal is simply to have a space wherein you can freely question and discuss spiritual matters that are important to you, then that is how your sessions will go. If you are looking for the path that best fits your needs and wants, then they can help you find it. It is all a matter of what you need most. There are no expectations placed upon the client when they first approach a spiritual psychologist, so even if you show up with a sense of being unsure of what you want, that will be just fine.