Finding the Real and Right Story in Counseling

Counseling is about the person and the person’s story.   Like so many things in life, everything is not usually black and white.  There are a variety of shades of color from multiple perspectives in life that can make the story of the client incomplete.  For starters, the client has  his/her own subjective experience with the events within the story.  The unique experience of the client may very well be true from the client’s point of view due to the subjective factors and information available.  In addition, the client may possess a variety of blinders to certain truths that may be painful to accept or realize.  In other cases, the client may have various personality disorders that completely distort the reality of the events.  Whether purposeful or not, these distortions can cause larger issues in the healing, changing and transformational process.

Counselor help clients tell their story but also help them see the real story and how to find the right story

Throughout the blogs on counseling techniques, we have discussed numerous skills a counselor must utilize to help a client find change.  This blog will bring many of these skills together in helping forge the client’s initial story into the real and right story (Egan, 2019, p. 270).  Egan guides the counselor in addressing the story told, but also how to help push the client forward into telling the real and right story.  This helps the client enter into a state of self discovery so that as the story progresses, the client not only heals but also changes and transforms with the reality of the story.

Of course, as a counselor, one cannot make a client change, nor can a counselor sometimes ruthlessly correct or tell a client he/she is wrong.  The skills of counseling help the counselor with empathy and patience, gently nudge and guide the client to truth and help the client choose to pursue that truth.  This stems first by forming a strong relationship of trust with the client. It involves basic attending skills of empathetic listening, observing and responding to help understand the client and better address the issues.  Through empathetic listening and excellent observations, one can begin to see if any discrepancies exist within the story and how to better empathetically confront the client to recognizing the real story and then challenging the client to the right story and course of action, all the while, supplying the client with resources and encouragement to move forward.

 

The Story

Egan emphasizes that when helping the client tell the story that the counselor needs to make the client feel safe in the encounter.  Egan also encourages counselors to understand the styles between different cultures and how different cultures may express stories.  Some clients divulge and talk, others are more quiet, while others supply numerous details and others are vague.  Some clients may tell the core of the story and leave out secondary issues, while others may approach the story the opposite direction.  Some clients may go off topic, while others may stay on topic (Egan, 2019, p. 274-275). This is why it is important to identify what is going on or what the client is feeling at the moment, identify what the client wants and how to get what the client needs.  In this regard, counselors can help clients identify key issues and help them discuss the past but in a productive way that helps the past not define them but help them learn (Egan, 2019, p. 181).  Egan also points out it is imperative to identify the severity of the initial story.  Will this client need basic counseling or require crisis counseling?  Clinical counselors may be able to better handle the issue presented or see the need for a specialist.  Pastoral counselors dealing with issues beyond basic loss and grief, may identify something more severe and need to refer the client to a clinical counselor.

Sometimes when helping a client tell their story, it can also be useful to utilize Narrative Therapy which helps differentiate the person from the issues.  At the end of the blog, there are links to better understand Narrative Therapy and its role in telling the story.

The Real Story

After identifying the key elements of the story, counselors can help clients start to see the real story by exposing with empathy any discrepancies or any blinders a client may possess.  Through empathetic confrontation, a counselor can help a client see both sides or different angles to the story that the client may not had seen initially.  In this way, the counselor challenges the client in the quality of their perception and participation in the story (Egan, 2019, p. 289).  In dealing with the real story, Egan also points out that counselors can help clients understand their own problems and be better equipped to own their own problems and unused opportunities.  When a client is gently nudged to the realities of the real story, a counselor can help the client see that the real issue is not impossible to rectify and begin to present problem maintenance structures which help clients identify, explore and act properly with their real issues (Egan, 2019,p. 292).  Challenging and encouraging like a coach, can help clients move forward to begin to make the right story in their life.

The Right Story

In telling the right story, the client is pushed to new directions.  The client no longer denies the need to change, but has to some extent acknowledged it.  In previous blogs, we discuss issues that correlate with change in a client.  When the client is ready to change, the client still requires guidance and help.  The counselor helps the client choose various issues that will make a true difference in his/her life.   When looking at these issues, the counselor helps the client set goals.  The goals should be manageable at first and lead to bigger things but only after smaller steps to avoid let down.  The counselor can help the client choose from various options and cost benefits, as well as helping the client make proper choices (Egan, 2019, p. 299-301).   The counselor, like a coach, helps the client push forward and improve in life.  Within the phase of telling the right story, the counselor helps the client with goals but also helps the client see the impact new goals can give to life as well as the needed commitment to those goals to ensure a continued transformation.  In previous blogs, we discuss the importance of helping clients face change and develop goals. In essence, goals are developed and strategies are conceived to meet those goals

Stages of Change 

Throughout the process, Egan points out that the process involves three stages.  First, telling the story so that it transforms into the real and right one.  Second, helping the client design and set forth problem managing goals and third and finally, setting into motion those plans with strategies (Egan, 2019).  These phases involve various skillsets that the counselor must employ at different phases and stages. It involves the counselor being a listener, advisor, encourager and coach.  The counselor applies basic attending skills, in previous blogs, and utilize those attending skills in productive responses and when necessary confrontations.  Everything is accomplished with empathy and patience but the skills, built upon trust, allow the counselor to awaken the client to new realities.  Following these earlier discussions, the counselor becomes and advisor and coach in helping the client find ways to change and implement new goals and strategies.  The counselor uses encouragement skills, coaching skills, and directive skills to help the client discover the power to choose wisely and act in a more healthy fashion.  Ultimately it is about the client discovering his/her own inner abilities to not only change but to sustain change.

Conclusion

No client is the same and many will have different innate virtues or vices, talents or deficiencies, strengths or weaknesses.  It is up to the counselor to help cultivate what is best in the client and help the client become his/her very best.  Through individual skills, the counselor can help within each session, but the counselor must try and fail with multiple different theories and therapies that work best for his/her client.  This involves realizing that each case is unique and different people will respond differently to different practices or approaches.  A counselor must forever remain creative and flexible in approaches and adhere to the standards of empathy which helps establish trust with clients.

Counselors play the role of listener, advisor and coach. Please also review AIHCP’s numerous mental healthcare certifications for Human Service and Healthcare professionals

A counselor can utilize a basic structure of identifying the problem, helping the client see where he/she wishes to be and help the client find ways to do it.  This involves working the client through the story and helping them see the real and right story moving forward.  It involves then goal setting and moving forward with action.  It makes the counselor more than a listener and advisor but also a coach.

Please also review AIHCP’s numerous counseling programs for those in the Human Service and Healthcare fields.  While clinical counselors have more ability to help clients deeper with issues, pastoral counselors in Human Service can also help.  This is why AIHCP offers these certifications to both clinical and non clinical Human Service professionals.  The programs in mental health include a Grief Counseling Certification, as well as a Christian Counseling Certification, Crisis Counseling Certification, Stress Management Consulting Certification and Anger Management Specialist Certification. The programs themselves are online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification.  Please review AIHCP’s numerous certification programs.

 

 

Reference

Egan, G. and Reese, R. (2019). “The Skilled Helper: A Problem Management and Opportunity-Development Approach to Helping” (11th Ed.) Cengage.

Additional Resources

Ackerman, C. (2017). “19 Best Narrative Therapy Techniques & Worksheets”. Positive Psychology. Access here

Bates, D. (2022). “Storytelling in Counseling Is Often the Key to Successful Outcomes”. Psychotherapy.net.  Access here

Guy Evans, O. (2023). “Narrative Therapy: Definition, Techniques & Interventions”. Simply Psychology.  Access here

“Narrative Therapy”. Psychology Today.  Access here

 

Challenging and Encouraging Clients in Counseling

To help transform a person to change, attending, listening and responding are key, but the skilled counselor needs to be able to help instigate change or water the seeds of the healing process within a client.  Whether loss and grief, or merely more daily stressors or emotional issues that are holding the client back from living life productively, the counselor needs to know how to coach the client and help the client find that preferred outcome.  This involves not only identifying the goals and actively pushing towards them but also motivating and challenging them.  Like a coach who is able to abstract the best out of their players on the field, a counselor needs to be able to encourage and challenge his/her clients to produce meaningful change.  Some clients respond better, others may be still facing inner turmoil and self esteem issues.  Some clients may be more resilient naturally, while others may need more prodding and gentle and empathetic guidance.  Each client is unique and different but the general ideas within this short blog complement the previous blogs on attending the client and responding to the client.

Challenging and encouraging a client to change is much like a coach trying to get the best of a player on the field

 

Some clients may have zero motivation to be challenged.  They may possess some world view or bias that prevents this change.  Some may be forced to attend counseling and feel no need to change.  This can occur with state mandated counseling or clients forced to attend because of family or spouses.  Some clients may feel motivated simply because of guilt and look to foster a positive change.  Some may simply have an interest in the counseling process and wish to see what happens.  In the best case, one will find a client who understands the critical importance of counseling and the changes that need made.  Regardless of the clients motivation level, it is the purpose of the counselor to help bring the best out of the client. This can be easier said then done.

 

 

 

The Counselor as Coach?

Life coaching in itself is a newer field within the Human Service Field.  It is not clinical or requiring of various licensing but it does promote the idea of healthy change and life styles.  It involves a professional who is trained to motivate, direct and help clients meet end goals.  This involves both encouraging and challenging the client.  Whether it is a weight goal, training goal, dieting goal, or health and life style change, life coaches are inherently trained to help produce change through motivation, encouragement and challenging of their clients.  Counselors, whether pastoral or clinical, working in grief counseling or other mental counseling disciplines, through empathetic listening and responding, should have a vested interest in helping their clients meet change, but some may lack the skills to help motivate the client to change.  As counselors, the client is directed and given options, but is never commanded or forced to change, instead, the client is invited to change through an array of options.  Many times, clients need motivated and encouraged and even challenged to push forward through these options. Many times they may fall and need help getting up.  Again, like a coach in sports, it is the counselor’s profession to not only direct, but also to help the client emotionally and mentally push towards that direction.

Challenging for New Behaviors

According to Egan, it is important to challenge clients to change.  He states,

“Help clients, challenge themselves to change ways of thinking, expressing emotions, and acting them mired in problem situations and prevent them from identifying and developing opportunities…become partners with your clients in helping them challenge themselves to find opportunities in their problems, to discover unused strengths and resources, both internal and external, and to commit themselves to the actions needed to make opportunity development happen (2019, p. 190).

In challenging, Egan emphasizes the importance of the counselor and client relationship which is based on trust and partnership.  A counselor, in the eyes of the client, needs to earn the right to challenge.  Once this is established, the counselor needs to ensure that challenges are presented tentatively but not apologetically, with a balance between not being too harsh but not also too passive.  In addition, counselors need to ensure the challenges are clear and specific.  Challenges also should not make demands or be forceful in nature but provide a structural system of choices.  As the term challenge indicates, it is never easy, so help clients utilize unused strengths to help meet the challenges and the ability to build on successful challenges to meet new ones (2019, p. 220-225).  As Egan points out, the counselor should be a “catalyst for a better future (2019, p. 190)”.

Many times, a counselor has to identify what is preventing the person from being able to face a challenge in life

In challenging clients, many times, they have many inherent issues that are already hampering them with the problem and maybe life in general.  To help clients become more resilient and able to create new behaviors, counselors sometimes need to identify blocks and issues within the client.  Egan lists a variety of target areas that negatively affect a client’s ability to respond to challenges and delay productive and healthy change.  Through attending, listening and responding, a counselor is able to identify certain issues that may restrict the ability of a client to respond effectively to challenges.

The first issue Egan lists are what he refers to as self defeating mindsets that include “assumptions, attitudes, beliefs, values, bias, convictions, inclinations, norms, points of view, perceptions of self and the world, preconceptions and prejudices (2019, p. 190-191)”.   Albert Ellis looked at facing irrational beliefs head on with interventions that would challenge irrational mindsets.  According to Ellis, many individuals have flawed misconceptions on life.  Egan lists a few of these ideals.

  • I must only be liked and loved in life
  • I must always be in control in life
  • I must always have my things done my way or no way
  • I should never have any problems
  • I am a victim and not responsible for any of my issues
  • I will avoid things that are difficult
  • I believe my past dictates what I do in the future
  • I do not need happiness in anything or anyone else

(Egan, 2019, p.191)

Ellis considered these mindsets as impediments to change because when something did happen that was bad, the person would tend to “catastrophize” it and become unable to adjust to the problem or even be remotely open to challenges to face it.  In addition to these mindsets, Egan points out that some individuals embrace in four fallacies that hamper change, as according to Sternberg.  Among those listed by Sternberg were egocentrism and taking into account only one’s own interests, omniscience and thinking one knows everything about the issue, omnipotence and feeling one can do whatever one desires and invulnerability and one will never face true consequences (2019, p.192).  Obviously these four fallacies are undesirable characteristics and whether naive or part of a greater personality disorder, they are issues that can prevent true change in the client.

In addition to mindsets, some individuals may have self defeating emotions and feelings that prevent them from achieving goals.  They may possess low self esteem or poor self image.  They may have fears that prevent them doing greater things.  Others may possess various dysfunctional behaviors that are external in nature.  In essence, the person cannot get out of their own way in life.  Their behavior, unknown to them sometimes, continues to create the issues they are trying to escape. Others may possess discrepancies in what they feel and think in regards to what they say and do and how they view themselves versus how they are truly viewed by others. Other times, individuals can be hampered in making true change or answering challenges because of unused strengths or resources (Egan, 2019, p. 194-197).

Other “Blind Spots” within the client preventing and hampering change can include various levels of unawareness.  This can include being blind to one’s own talents and strengths seen by others but not perceived by the self.   Some individuals may be unaware due to self deception itself, or choosing ignorance.  Some individuals will avoid issues and problems because they simply would rather not know because the truth may be too terrifying.  In helping clients challenge themselves to new behaviors, counselors can open clients to new areas of awareness with simple self questions.

  • What problem am I avoiding?
  • What opportunities am I ignoring?
  • What am I overlooking?
  • What do I refuse to see?
  • How am I being dishonest with myself?

(Egan, 2019, p. 204)

As the counselor, but also a coach, it is important to help clients identify these issues and understand why they are unable to move forward.

Helping Clients Identify These Issues and Healthy Challenging

Carl Rogers promoted a empathetic approach. In helping others face hard realities, a fact based empathetic approach is key.  Showing patience and empathy and carefully presenting the issue with assertiveness but compassion is key in helping the client awaken to certain issues.  Of course, timing, tone, and words all play a key role in helping the client become acceptive.  The counselor cannot come across as afraid to address issues but not confrontational.  Sometimes, certain words, may offset a client or labels, and the counselor will need to navigate why and how to discuss the issue.  Also within this process, the counselor cannot simply give a set of directions but present options.  Finally, again, the counselor needs to present the new awareness and challenge to the client without judgment but in a way that creates self awareness and pushes forward change.

Counselors help motivate clients to change through empathy and supplying the client with appropriate level challenges and options to meet

When discovering hindering blind spots and issues, the counselor needs to become a detective in some respects before he/she can truly become a coach.  What is the client truly trying to say, or hinting at, or half saying (Egan, 2019, p.206)?  Counselors need to help clients understand their implicit thoughts and words and make them become more explicit.  In doing so, counselors can help clients understand themes in their stories, make connections with what may be missing and share educated hunches in feedback (Egan, 2019, p. 207-210).  Counselors can through their hunches, help clients see the bigger picture, dig deeper in the story, draw conclusions, open up more, see overlooked aspects, or even own their own story (Egan, 2019, p. 210-211).

 

 

Of course how these opinions and disclosures are presented to the client are critical.  They are part of the art of counseling and also the product of good coaching. A good coach is able to present a deficiency in a player’s form or approach and help turn into change and better performance.  This however involves not tearing down the player, but building the player up and giving the player the tools necessary to improve.  As an teacher and encourager, a coach is able to transform the problem and help the player have success on the field.  Likewise, an counselor needs to be able to coach his/her client through approaching a weakness and being able to challenge the person to overcome it and make it a strength in the field of life.  Strength Based Therapies as proposed by Pattoni, (2012) help clients label their strengths and identify them and utilize them in variety of goal setting environments. The process looks to expand hope but also create autonomy in facing issues.

When providing factful information and options to a client, a counselor needs to remain empathetic and tactful in delivering the news.  Some news can be shocking to a client and the client may need time or understanding in the process (Egan, 2019, p. 213).  Hence Egan recommends sometimes sharing one’s disclosures and challenges, but he recommends it to be used with caution.  He recommends being sure to use it sparingly, appropriately and culturally aware.  Timing can be key.  One does not wish to have one’s own disclosure to become a distraction (2019, p.215).

As a counselor and coach, how one gives suggestions and recommendations for better improvements are critical.  Inspired first with empathy and secondly aware of internal issues of the client, a counselor needs to approach and challenge the client without confronting but at the same time presenting clear and factual options to promote change.  These challenges are not easy, so like a good coach, a counselor needs to find ways to provide encouragement during the change process.  Counselors should invite clients to challenge themselves and help them identify specific challenges that will make the best changes.  Like a sports coach, while identifying any issue, the counselor needs to encourage and identify strengths to overcome a particular challenge.  Furthermore, the challenge needs to be evaluated as not to be too intense to be self-demeaning to the client.  Sometimes, success is built upon.  So when identifying challenges, the counselor needs to present them in a fashion that leads to success (Egan, 2019, p. 220).

As a counselor-coach, a counselor identifies changes that are essential and helps the client identify change.  Some clients are more resistant to change.  In another blog, we discuss the Client Change Scale which lists the levels of difficulty for a client to accept change or implement it based on their stage.  It is the counselor’s job to help the client see the necessity of change and help the client find it through encouragement and help.  Some changes will be first order, or deal with the current situation, or others may be second order and more long term or permanent.  This depends on the nature of the issue and the needs of the client.  The counselor like a coach, helps the client implement goals, strategies and plans to implement the change.   The counselor helps the client see his/her possible self, delve into creativity,  and think differently (Egan, 2019, p. 315-318).  In essence, the counselor helps the client see a better future, set goals to attain it and help them put it into action (Egan, 2019, p. 314).

 

Conclusion

Counselors are like coaches.  They need to challenge their clients by identifying weaknesses and help clients overcome them with appropriate challenges.  This involves active attending and responding to the client and understanding the inner challenges the client faces.  The counselor then is able to better become a catalyst of change in the clients life with setting appropriate challenges to make the client a better person in the field of life.

Please also review AIHCP’s multiple counseling certifications in Grief Counseling, Christian Counseling, Life Coaching, Anger Management, Stress Management and Crisis Intervention Counseling

Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Certification, as well as its Christian Counseling Certification.  Other mental health certifications for both pastoral and clinical counselors, or those engaged in the Human Service Fields, include Stress Management, Life Coaching, Anger Management, and Crisis Intervention. The programs are online and self study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification in any of these fields.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reference

Egan, G. & Reese. R. (2019).”The Skilled Helper: A Problem Management and Opportunity-Development Approach to Helping” (11th Ed). Cengage

Additional Resources

Sutton, J. (2022). “Motivation in Counseling: 9 Steps to Engage Your Clients”. Positive Psychology.  Access here

Sutton, J. (2022). “How to Perform Strengths-Based Therapy and Counseling”. Positive Psychology. Access here

“The Skill of Challenge in Counselling”(2019). Counseling Tutor. Access here

Voitilainen, L. et, al. (2018). “Empathy, Challenge, and Psychophysiological Activation in Therapist–Client Interaction”. Front Psychol. 2018; 9: 530. National Library of Medicine. Access here

 

Spirituality and Health

Spirituality and health are linked together.  Those with more optimistic world views are more secure and calm.  Due to this, those who experience sickness sometimes have a better chance of recovery.  However, spirituality can also be a world view or a sacred philosophy.  This type of moral anchor can help any individual.

Does this correlate completely with health?  Some spiritual people become very sick.  Some even die.  Spirituality or a philosophical code of life does not bar one from illness or death but it does percentage wise help with overall outlooks which correspond with better recoveries, less stress, and a healthier outlook on life.

Please also review AIHCP’s Spiritual Counseling program and see if it meets your academic and professional goals.  The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification in Spiritual Counseling.

 

 

Please review the video below

Spiritual Counseling Certification Blog on Spirituality and Health

Health is multi faceted.  It is not just a physical thing, but also a mental, emotional and as well spiritual.  Spirituality can be applied to multiple aspects of health.  Overall purpose, optimism and faith can all play key roles in healing and staying healthy.   Spirituality is not a narrow definition though and can be applied to a wealth of values and beliefs and world views.  How those world views and beliefs are applied in daily life and struggle have critical aspects in overall health.  Please also review AIHCP’s Spiritual Counseling Certification

Spirituality has many correlations with better physical health. Please also review AIHCP’s Spiritual Counseling Certification

 

The article, “Spirituality is a concept that means different things to different people. How would you describe spirituality, and how can it help an individual to become more in tune with their body?” by Dr Tracy Balboni takes a closer look at how spirituality plays a role in health and also in care of patients.  She states,

“In healthy populations, communal forms of spirituality – as exemplified by regular religious service attendance – are associated with many improved health outcomes, including greater longevity, better mental health, less suicide, and reduced substance use. Among adolescents, being involved in spiritual communities is associated with better health outcomes, including less substance use and less risky health behaviors. ”

To read the entire article, please click here

Please also review AIHCP’s Christian Counseling Certification as well AIHCP’s Spiritual Counseling Certification and see if they meet your academic and professional goals.  The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification in spiritual counseling.

Grief Counseling Certification Blog on Near Death Experience

Near Death Experience or NDE are mysterious and empirically unexplainable experiences individuals near death can experience.  It is still a mystery as to if NDE is a proof for a metaphysical afterlife or a lack of current understanding of the brain and its unknown processes when responding to possible death.  For now, they are accepted as something that is unexplainable and not to be connected with psychosis or any type of mental pathology but a legitimate experience some individuals face when dealing with death.

Near Death Experience or NDE has certain qualities associated with it that differentiate it from other mental states such as dreams or hallucinations.  It NDE, there is an out of body experience that occurs, or a autoscopic episode.  This episode is when one is unconscious and the trajectory if not corrected will lead to physical death.  During this unconscious state, one can experience lucid visions outside one body.  To qualify as an NDE, a 16 question survey must score at least a 7 in value.

 

Are Near Death Experiences metaphysical and spiritual episodes or some unknown yet reaction of the brain to death? Please also review AIHCP’s Pastoral Thanatology Program as well as AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Certification

 

Among the many questions include the level of consciousness one felt during the episode.   Was the experience equal or greater than normal conscious behavior.  This is a key element in differentiating from a dream state or a hallucination.  During these states, individuals under anesthesia are able to comprehend things around their unconscious body that the brain should not be able to sense.  This type of mental ability questions whether the soul is experiencing a metaphysical experience or if there is some unknown power of the brain yet known to science.  Many who experience NDE are able to relate things regarding those around them while they were unconscious that the brain should not be able to observe or sense.  In fact, the senses are even more acute and sharp during NDE.  Blind individuals are able to see things in some studies, as well as individuals who can see but see more so in deeper colors and understanding than any mere human eyes. In other cases, NDE patients also understood the thoughts of others around them.

Science looks to explain some of these feelings and sensations when the body is in crisis.  Russel Noyes, a famous psychiatrist, who researched NDE, pointed out that the body when in crisis experiences various adaptations.   There is a sharp mystical awakening to more vivid images, as well as a depersonalization with emotion and a detachment.  Also, there is a hyper-alertness with sharper vision and hearing that helps the person survive.  Could these abilities be amplified near death?

Most who experience NDE, which is around 1/3rd who have close clashes with death, firmly believe it was a real experience.   They return in many cases more peaceful and guided.  They look to implement life changes and have less death anxiety itself.  The experiences are also multi-cultural and do not differ between Western and Eastern religious codes.  Even children with little predisposed religious ideals, experience the same and often beyond their natural understanding.  Individuals who are not religious also share similar experiences.

During these religious experiences, many experience a calm and bright light, and in some cases see lost loved ones but others can experience nothingness or more frightful visions.  Some see torture and hellish images.  They experience upon their return a call for conversion or a scared traumatic response.  Others try to explain it away.

Grief Counselors, or more so licensed professional counselors are needed to help individuals discuss and resolve their NDE experience.   It is important that the counselor understand that it is not a pathology but to be on the look out for pathological reactions to the experience.  Counselors also must be open to the individuals interpretation.  Since there is no rational explanation, it may very well be metaphysical or also tied to unexplainable brain functioning that is firing off an array of visions that science cannot understand.   It is critical to listen and accept the story of the individual with an NDR and how it relates to that particular individual.

Gaining the trust is key.  Individuals, may think they are crazy, or noone will believe their story.  It is important to reassure the patient that this is phenomenon is a real experience although unexplainable by science and that their visions are not crazy or pathological.  It is essential to help the individual integrate the experience into their life story.  Unless pathological reactions occur when extreme anxiety or dangerous new behaviors arise, the person should be encouraged to share and incorporate the experience into their life in a healthy way.  There is no treatment since it is not a pathology itself and there is no true medication because the incident is beyond comprehension.

Near Death Experience is a universal experience across cultures. Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Certification

 

Those of belief may accept the experience as a religious experience.  This is not pathological but acceptable.  The reality is it may very well be a metaphysical experience beyond the scope of science and to marginalize it and categorize it against the will of the patient is counter productive.  It is best to co-exist with the experience from wherever it came and allow it produce the healthy changes one needs in one life.  Ultimately, there may be an explanation or it may be metaphysical, or it may be a mixture of both, but since they are universal and non pathological, it would be prudent to merely care more about how one reacts to the experience in counseling than to define it for the patient.  How the patient defines it is the patient’s choice.

Death and dying is a mystery.  It is the final chapter of observable existence.  NDE is merely another element of it and how we see death beyond the grave and the many spiritual questions that burn within our mind and how our body reacts to death itself.

Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Certification and see if it meets your academic and professional goals.  The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification in Grief Counseling.

Please also review AIHCP’s Pastoral Thanatology Program

Related Articles

Near-Death Experiences Evidence for Their Reality” by Dr Jeffrey Long, MD

Near-Death Experiences and Psychotherapy” by Dr Linda Griffith, MD

“Death Society and Human Experience” by David Kastenbaum, PHD

 

 

 

Spiritual Counseling Certification Blog on Spirituality and Health

Spirituality and a healthy life style coincide.   Many who do not have a faith or religion may seem skeptical but the reality is when one places merit in a higher system beyond oneself, then one can find a variety of physical, emotional and spiritual benefits.  Those who belong to a religion, or aspire to a certain individual spiritual path all can find the same benefits for overall health.  Even those who follow no creed or spirituality can find value if they place themselves under a code or meaning of life itself.   However, in this blog, we will only deal with spirituality itself.

In defining spirituality, this blog defines it as a personal and individual journey of any type of faith or metaphysical belief.  Those who are also religious and follow a code also have their own unique spirituality but are also religious in nature.  Religious individuals may not be very spiritual but socially active in their church or community or they may be very spiritually privately and also very religious and faithful to an established dogmatic code.   All of these religious and spiritual journeys while unique all aid in a better out look in life itself and can help with physical, mental and emotional help.  Some individuals may be only spiritual or religious, while others may possess both, but ultimately, the tying to a higher belief system beyond oneself has multiple benefits.

Spirituality is an important factor to health. Please also review AIHCP’s Spiritual Counseling Certification

 

Frankl, a holocaust survivor remarked that suffering without meaning is unbearable, but once meaning is given, suffering can transcend.  In such a fallen world, meaning is given to suffering when one is spiritual or connects to a code higher than oneself.  Erick Erickson also emphasized the importance of spiritual development as a step in life as well its importance with dying.  Those dying who attribute to a higher end than themselves can find more meaning in their suffering, as well as can activate within the body, the ability to heal itself in some cases.  Recovery itself has a greater ability to occur.  This is not to dismiss true miracles, but there is a true mental connection between mind and body for those with positive mindsets and their ultimate recovery.

Spirituality and overall health are deeply connected not only when sick but throughout life itself.  The connection to a higher code or higher being or deeper connection can be very beneficial for people on many fronts.

On the outset, a higher meaning in something, leads to a better out look on life.   Behind life is meaning and that meaning can guide one spiritually in understanding reality.  Greater happiness and peace can come to individuals who have a paradigm structure of existence.  Although those paradigms can be challenged when disaster strikes and cause world view challenges, many fall back on their faith, beliefs, or spirituality and find solace.   Hence, spirituality is able to help individuals be more happy with life itself due to an overall direction and understanding of it, as well as a system to deal with stressors and problems.

For many, this spirituality enhances social connections and helps one improve existing relationships.  Spirituality helps one see the needs of others and enhances compassion and gratitude in life.  It helps prevent selfishness and self absorption and focuses on creating an overall balance in life.  This naturally leads to a multitude of life long benefits.

The immune system is strengthened when one exists in a positive mindset.  While multiple factors play into health, one aspect is spirituality.  The body is better able to function when in higher spirits and able to recover and heal.  Meditation and mindfulness are all spiritual practices that can ease the body and allow the immune system to function without additional strain and also release the necessary hormones for self healing.

Spirituality can also help prevent possible depression.  With deeper connections in life, one is more attune with self and balanced.  Hence spirituality can help prevent or minimize depression.  It can also help one who is experiencing depression.  Again many factors come into play, but the positive nature of spiritual life can be critical to mental health.

A connection to something-whether deity, belief, social view or type of paradigm is important to life meaning and also health itself

 

Obviously spiritual people or individuals at least connected to a higher code than themselves have a unique way to view the world and understand it.  The importance is not so much whether the world view is correct or incorrect but that the person believes it.  This belief has potential to unlock various healing abilities in the body as well as help the person face everyday problems.   Everyone experiences stress but how one deals and copes with stress is key.  Spiritual individuals have a better success rate of dealing with stress due to world view and belief.  This in turn leads to a calmer life that does not activate the body’s stress response.  With the body not in fight or flight mode or experiencing chronic stress, there are better healthy outcomes in regards to sleep, heart health, and blood pressure.  Stress kills but spirituality can limit the dangerous effects of unneeded stress.

While there are numerous factors to health itself, one cannot dismiss the importance of spirituality and merely toss it to the side.  Life meaning is key to direction in life and maintaining an overall balance in life itself. Connection to something more than oneself and its benefits are no secret.   For the most part, a healthy spiritual life or connection to something bigger than oneself is essential for a better world view and healthier physical, mental and emotional life.

Please also review AIHCP’s Spiritual Counseling Certification and see if it meets your academic and professional goals.  The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification in Spiritual Counseling.

AIHCP also offers a Christian Counseling Certification.

 

Related links to spirituality and health

5 Physical Health Benefits of Spirituality” by Rachelle Williams.

The role of spirituality in health care” by Christina Puchalski

 

Christian Counseling Certification Article on Spiritual Depression

Individuals can be spiritually depressed.  They can hope and become unhappy with their faith.  They can also feel desolations in their prayer life where they feel abandoned.  How one bounces back in their spiritual life during this episodes is key.  Spiritual Counselors and mentors can help individuals rediscover the presence of God in their life.

If in a spiritual depression, sometimes praying harder despite the emotional comfort is key. Please also review AIHCP’s Christian Counseling Program

 

The article, “Understanding Spiritual Depression” from Healthline looks closer at spiritual depressions.  The article states,

“If you’re experiencing spiritual depression, your religious leader might encourage a similar remedy: prayer or seeking Christ. Yet, many of the symptoms associated with spiritual depression can also suggest a depressive disorder, which may not improve without support from a mental health professional.”

To read the entire article, please click here

Spiritual depression can be deeper rooted and may require professional mental help, but in many cases, one requires spiritual guidance through the spiritual desert of the world.  Please also review AIHCP’s Spiritual Counseling Program as well as AIHCP’s Christian Counseling Program.  Both programs are online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification

Spiritual Counseling Program Article on Science and Prayer

Prayer while spiritual in nature encompasses the entirety of the human person.  Body, mind and soul is engaged with a higher being.  It is only reasonable then that empirical and definable psychological benefits can be observed from those who pray versus those who do not pray.  Prayer has many mental benefits that go beyond a mere spiritual reality.  Prayer strengthens the mind because it places faith in a higher being.  It allows one to be less stressed, less worried, and feel that there is order in the chaos.  The re-assurance of prayer, the confidence it instills, and the peace it can give to stress, are all huge benefits to the spiritual community.

What are the empirical measurable aspects of prayer in regards to emotional and mental well being? Please also review our Spiritual Counseling Program

 

The article, “The psychological benefits of prayer: What science says about the mind-soul connection” by Kristen Rogers looks at what science observes regarding the emotional and mental states of spiritual people.  The article states,

“Science is about testing observable relationships, processes and mechanisms,” Masters said. “But almost by definition, prayer, as operationalized in these studies, invokes involvement of God or a higher being, something outside the boundaries of natural phenomenon, which science cannot really study. Science can, however, study the outcomes of the belief in God rather than the existence — such a study might ask whether people who believe strongly in God report a better quality of life than people who do not believe in God.”

To read the entire article, please click here

Please also review both our Spiritual Counseling Program, as well as our Christian Counseling Program and see if they match your academic and professional goals.

 

Spiritual Counseling Program Article on Intuition

Intuition is beyond the five senses but is a spiritual sense.  It is beyond the measure of science but is something that comes from the soul and mind.  It helps a person better access and judge a situation through a particular feeling of the energy surrounding it.  Intuitive people are not fortune tellers but true individuals with a spiritual gift that allows them to sense emotions and things of the spiritual with more accuracy than others.

What is spiritual intuition? Please also review our Spiritual Counseling Program and see if it meets your academic and professional goals.

 

The article, “What Is Intuition? How Being Intuitive Can Help You Connect To Your Spiritual Side” by Rena Wells looks at this spiritual phenomenon.   She states,

“When you are ready to dive deeper into your intuitive side, your sensitivity becomes your greatest gift. This is because you feel first and then rationalize it. You sort through different feelings about a situation. You feel through situations first before laying out the plan. Believe it or not, this is a profound gift! It’s a gift that is desperately needed on our planet.”

To read the entire article, please click here

To review our Spiritual Counseling Program, please review the program and see if it matches your educational goals and requirements.

Spiritual Counseling Certification Article on Spirituality and Dying

For those who accept an afterlife, there is definitely a spirituality with dying.  A spirituality that acknowledges there is more than the material and the necessity of preparing oneself for something greater.

There is a deep spirituality with death and how we face it and view our existence. Please also review our Spiritual Counseling Certification and see if it meets your needs

The article, “The spirituality of dying” by Rebecca Abbott also looks at the spirituality and grace of dying in peace.  She states,

“According to Hampton, spirituality does not simply refer to religion or faith, but encompasses the “meaning, purpose and connectedness in people’s lives – connectedness with themselves, others, creativity, nature and some sense of something beyond themselves, something bigger.”

To read the entire article, please click here

Please also review both our Grief Counseling Program, as well as our Spiritual Counseling Certification and see if the match your professional goals.