Does the saying “never discuss politics or religion in polite company” apply to therapy? Absolutely not! And, yet, many of us would rather talk about sex, finances, and addiction than discuss our religious beliefs with a therapist. If religious and spiritual beliefs inform how we see the world, why are we reluctant to discuss our faith in therapy? Keep reading for three of the most common myths about religion and therapy:
Myth #1: Only a religious leader or pastoral counselor can address issues of faith in therapy. Some clients worry that secular therapists are not qualified to discuss issues of faith, but this is not the case. Whatever troubles you, therapy can offer a non-judgmental space to be curious about your concerns, talk about yourself with compassion, and identify your unique strengths. Religious leaders and pastoral counselors routinely help clients explore issues outside their faith; similarly, secular therapists can offer support and guidance with your faith journey.
Myth #2: Secular therapists are atheists who think organized religion is a cult. If you believe your therapist doesn’t share your faith and expresses disdain for your worldview, you may not feel comfortable sharing with them. In order to understand who you are, a therapist may ask questions about your faith background or belief system. This is not an attempt to change your beliefs. Instead, these questions are meant to guide you to explore and re-affirm what you believe and why.
Myth #3: Mental health therapy is in conflict with my faith. Therapy, like religion, helps us make sense of the world and our place in it. However, some people believe seeking help from a therapist is a rejection of God and the power of prayer. This is understandable, as there is a long history of mistrust between religion and therapy. Regardless of your faith background, you deserve support as you navigate challenging moments in life. A good therapist will view your religious beliefs as a strength and find ways to incorporate your faith into therapy.
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