Balancing Therapy and Religion

As a therapist, developing  a treatment plan for a patient can be very difficult.  Helping the patient to identify goals is hard at times when someone is feeling very overwhelmed by life, but it can be harder when people get different direction from their church.  As a therapist, there is a balance between providing support that is helpful for the patient, and understanding the teachings and beliefs that come from the patient’s religion.  Finding the balance can be hard, but it’s important to respect the beliefs, understand them, and incorporate them while working to help a patient make progress.

We have talked before about how to pick a therapist.  Those posts are still available to review if needed, but today I want to talk about finding a way to balance therapy and your beliefs.  I have worked with patients in the past where the treatment might conflict with the patient’s beliefs.  Specifically, when someone is being treated poorly, to the point of abuse, but the church is teaching obedience.  No one should every have to take abuse and feel that they have to stay.  The treatment plan related to abuse would include leaving the perpetrator, but when someone’s beliefs restrict actions, like leaving an abusive situation, the patient is left with a struggle.

There are many different situations that come up related to religion and beliefs.  My first priority is the patient’s safety, but I also have to respect  their beliefs.  Helping the patient work through concerns becomes important as a part of developing a working treatment plan.  There are situations that happen where a therapist can breach confidentiality and disclose information to an outside source.  Those two situations include the patient talking about committing suicide, or threatening someone else.  Another however is if there is violence in the home and children are involved.  That may be another reason for a therapist to report issues.  These issues need to be reviewed with a patient as a part of the treatment plan, especially if there are children in the home that may be witnessing the abuse.  Sometimes, that can help a patient make decisions, when they understand the risks, but their beliefs still place stress on the patient.

I do not consider myself a Christian counselor, but I have a healthy respect for the beliefs of others.  There are counselors available that can help from different religious perspectives, and if it would help you to find a counselor with the same belief system, please find someone that understands and can help.  Being in a relationship that is abusive requires help and support.  Working with victims of abuse is hard but the decision to leave can be the hardest decision they ever make.  It can go against their beliefs related to marriage and family.  Having to make that decision to save yourself and any children involved isn’t easy when it goes against everything you believe.

As a therapist, finding the line between therapy and religion can be hard for some.  A therapist should have respect for your beliefs, and for your goals.  If you have goals, stick to your goals.  A therapist doesn’t live in your shoes, and doesn’t have to live the future that you create.  Some helpers push their own agendas at times, but if that doesn’t work for you, find a therapist who understands.  Stay true to yourself, and get support that works for you.  It’s all a part of being happy for life.