“Having received counselling from many different sources in the past, I have found Phil’s spiritual approach to our sessions to be a welcome, refreshing gift. That being said, his personal spirituality is never shared unless appropriate.”
Using Guided Imagery
The use of guided imagery for a person who has a particular spiritual tradition could be helpful in inviting them to develop a more healthy image of themselves. For example, Christians who are familiar with the scriptures and who find comfort in them, could benefit from the inclusion of scripture meditations in the therapeutic process. This is entirely dependent on the client’s preference.
Parenting influences on perceptions of God
Many people’s perception, image and understanding of God emerge from their childhood experience, whether negative or positive. For most children, their parent figures will be for them an image of God. If their parent is kind, loving, present and understanding, in all probability their perception of God will be similar. If parents are cruel, judgemental, distant, cold or unavailable, the child’s perception of God could likely be the same. In Phil Hetherington’s work as a counsellor, he often helps clients to leave behind archaic, negative perceptions of God that are contaminated by parent influence, to discover and embrace God as He really is.
Abandonment to Divine Providence
A person who has had a traumatic experience such as sexual assault or childhood abuse might find this concept extremely difficult to understand or accept. It might even be unconsciously used by a person to stroke a pathology of low self esteem. This person might attempt to surrender to the will of God, but instead of developing a sense of interior freedom and peace, harbours guilt, self loathing and subtle resentment. The purpose of any therapy is to affect self esteem in a positive way. A person who has a healthy self esteem is open to experiencing God’s love in all things and so can abandon himself or herself to divine providence with confidence and trust.
Inclusion of a Catholic perspective in therapy
Introspective Counselling Services does not impose a spiritual perspective on clients. That would not be attuned therapy. What we have discovered however is that there are many clients who wish to have a therapist who shares their religious beliefs. In the case of clients for whom Church teaching is a priority, having a therapist who understands the subtle nuances of their faith and who can make insightful connections to this path is important to them. This has been very beneficial in the client’s process of healing.