Characteristics of Spiritually Competent Psychotherapists

"Spiritually competent psychotherapists . . .
. . . are aware of their own religious and spiritual heritage, worldview assumptions, and values and are sensitive to how their own spiritual issues, values, and biases could affect their work with clients from different religious and spiritual traditions.

. . . seek to understand, respect, and appreciate religious and spiritual traditions, worldviews, and values that are different from their own.

. . . are capable of communicating interest, understanding, and respect to clients who have religious and spiritual worldviews, beliefs, and values that are different from the therapist.

. . . seek to assess and understand how a client's religious and spiritual worldview and values affect the client's sense of identity, lifestyle, and emotional and interpersonal functioning, and they are sensitive to how their own religious and spiritual values and beliefs could bias their judgment.

. . . are sensitive to circumstances (e.g., personal biases, value conflicts, lack of knowledge of the client's religious tradition) that could dictate referral of a religious client to a member of his or her own religious tradition.

. . . have or seek specific knowledge and information about the religious beliefs and traditions of the religious and spiritual clients with whom they work.

. . . avoid making assumptions about the beliefs and values of religious and spiritual clients based on religious affiliation alone, but they seek to gain an in-depth understanding of each client's unique spiritual worldview, beliefs, and values.

. . . understand how to sensitively handle value and belief conflicts that arise during therapy and do so in a manner that preserves the client's autonomy and self-esteem.

. . . make efforts to establish respectful, trusting relationships with members, clergy, and other pastoral professionals in their clients' religious community and seek to draw on these sources of social support to benefit their clients when appropriate.

. . . seek to understand the religious and spiritual resources in their clients' lives and encourage their clients to use these resources to assist them in their efforts to cope, heal, and change.

. . . seek to use religious and spiritual interventions that are in harmony with their clients' religious and spiritual beliefs when it appears that such interventions could help their clients cope, heal, and change."