Gail-Elaine’s Thoughts on Spirituality & Psychotherapy Services


Tinker_Psychotherapy_SpiritualityAs a professional, ethical, practicing psychotherapist, who is also, personally and privately a Christian, of Quaker denomination, I feel it important to discuss my beliefs and approaches to spirituality and counseling. Please let it be known that I do not discriminate on the basis of any religion or spirituality whatsoever. However, I am aware that you, as a consumer, have the right to discern and precisely discriminate against anyone you choose to counsel you. This is your right and privilege. However, I’d like to discuss some issues which affect the intimate role of counseling with regard to religion and spirituality.

To many orthodox religious folks, whether Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Mormon, Pagan, or other, my lack of identical belief system and tolerance/ inclusion of secular and psychological thought and technique will be an automatic ‘turn-off.’ I know that, for you, there is no ‘open buffet’ of thought, lifestyle, or technique. For this, I understand and can offer no compensatory explanation. We simply differ on important spiritual matters, such as the literal interpretation of sacred texts and a support of all religious belief modalities, and perhaps, would not be a ‘good-fit’ in a counseling relationship. I urge you to seek professional counseling from a ‘like-minded’ counselor who shares your world view and can support your recovery in a style to which you are accustomed.

For many in the mainstream, spirituality, not religion, has become a quality of life issue. Many people have come to me feeling wounded by their religious practices or in deep doubt and crisis over their faith. However some of those actually carry a personal sense of ‘higher power’ and want to explore the role of this during their life challenges. To some seeking counseling, it is a surprise that spirituality enters into the therapeutic mix in any way! I am trained and personally committed to spiritual openness. In my practice, client and therapist, in concert, determine their own treatment goals and therapy treatment plan. So, for instance, if church, temple, or mosque attendance is a goal – I will support and encourage what you know to be helpful for your recovery and wellness. And, for instance, should exploration of the full realm of religious practices available become a stated goal – I will assist this worthy goal in any way. And, for instance, if my client declares a desire that religious practices not be involved in the spiritual aspects of wellness – I can respect and support this, as well. As final instance, should a client feel wounded by ‘How could a loving God forsake me?’ – I am prepared to work with them in a multitude of ways. There are many personal and complex responses to the issue of spirituality, for which I have trained and remain open to supporting, utilizing the best of my education and personal life experience as a Quaker.

In fact, many are willing to embrace current Humanist Psychology (means not disease focused) which offers a wealth of options in the ‘open buffet’ metaphor. If this is so, I imagine there is a higher probability for ‘good-fit’ for a counseling relationship between us. I can present techniques additional to psychology, such as ‘higher power,’ meditation, journaling, focusing, visualization, intention, prayer, bibliotherapy, transformative arts, and reiki. I often refer clients to professionals in the wellness community who practice chiropractic, yoga, ayurveda, acupuncture, reflexology, EMDR, neuro-linguistic programming, hypnotherapy, music therapy, belly dancing, and Native-American drumming, to name more than a few. As a Humanist Psychotherapist, I am realistically attuned to the fact that there are no cookie-cutter cures in mental health and wellness. I am deeply concerned for my client’s personal choice and provide that ‘open buffet’ of therapeutic modalities, tested and untested, because I can never know what is right for my client – .I merely guide them to their internal knowledge.

I do not believe that such a process is in conflict with my personal practice of Christianity (although I understand many would disagree). A prime tenet of Quaker faith and practice is to see ‘that of God in everyone.’ This means I treat all with a respect I might use if I were conversing with Jesus Christ – at least, as an imperfect human, I do my utmost. I also do not believe this practice is in conflict with my Hippocratic Oath and stated ethics as a professional counselor. Another Quaker tenet, ‘let your life speak,’ means that I strive to live each day in the firm belief that I am ‘that of God.’ My specialty of working with clients with chronic illness and pain, trauma, addictions, grief means that the likelihood of spirituality coming into the therapeutic process is high. Therefore, you, as client /consumer should know in advance my preparedness in light of the personal, and often sensitive, nature of the issue. I offer you this article and my entire website, including web-links, to further your exploration. You may contact me via email to discuss any aspect of spirituality in connection to yourself as a prospective client. I look forward to working with you.