“But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father
will send in my name, will teach you all things and
remind you of everything I have said to you.”
——- The Apostle John (14:26)
While formally trained in Psychotherapy and Counseling, my goal has always been to integrate principles of the Christian worldview, its spiritual philosophy, ethical disciplines, Biblical insight and Scripture into my counseling practice. This blend of psychotherapy and spiritual worldview has proven very effective in resolving difficult and sometimes very complex life issues. Although I routinely integrate principles of the Judeo-Christian Biblical worldview into my counseling practice, I do not attempt to proselytize or push my spiritual beliefs upon others. I always provide written disclosure of my spiritual worldview for this reason.
My volunteer and professional training includes employment at both Christian and secular agencies. These diverse environments offered extensive experience on which to draw insight and direction for my style of counseling. Combined with a Christian Biblical Worldview, my approach to counseling has matured into a holistic and integrated philosophy including both spiritual insight and modern theoretical dynamics to provide a balanced and effective approach to psychotherapy and counseling.
Overall, many common values cut across cultures and worldviews: a mother’s love for her child, a husband’s love for his wife, a minister’s love for his people. The “Golden Rule” is claimed by many different religions. My personal worldview acknowledges that God’s love is available to all people, regardless of one’s spiritual worldview. God’s love is unconditional and universally available. However, our response to His love is entirely another matter. Nevertheless, it is not the purpose of this writing to comprehensively explore those distinctions, so I will remain focused on the Christian Worldview as compared to a few worldviews common to psychotherapy and counseling.
Comparison of Two Major Worldviews
A skilled counselor becomes a mirror to the client’s soul, yet does not manipulate a client into doing something against his or her will. Neither is a counselor required to change his or her worldview to match that of his or her client. This is why it is important to understand one’s personal values and spiritual beliefs system within the counseling environment. If a counselor does not master his or her own system of thought, beliefs and values, it becomes difficult or impossible to help others master their own. And to expose one’s spirit to an opposing or antithetical worldview while attempting to heal is paradoxical. This isn’t auto mechanics! It’s your life and your soul that we are dealing with.
Our thoughts, beliefs and values often determine the baseline to one’s spiritual and behavioral reality. While there appears to be some altruistic crossover among worldviews (e.g., feed the poor, house the homeless, rescue those in need) there is considerable divergence among spiritual systems. For example, the Judeo-Christian worldview derives its core values directly from the Bible; believing Scripture to be the inspired word of God. So Christians commonly serve others in their desire to honor and glorify God.
On the other hand, a Humanistic worldview denies any literal revealed knowledge from a personal Creator God. Whereas an Agnostic worldview leaves room for an “unknowable and distant Creator God,” it does not recognize the validity of God-breathed Scripture. Both philosophies hold the Bible as a compilation of mythic characters and moral tales; nothing more than a story book.
Humanistic (Secular) thought holds a major presupposition that human beings are the ultimate evolved being and therefore sole masters of their destiny. Self is regarded supreme. This premise appears to create a spiritual void in the human soul. Since human beings are the ultimate spiritual reality, there is no need or room for anything greater in a spiritual form of deity. To think that we are our own gods is an unsettling thought for many reasons.
These worldviews often collide as polar opposites. Core values for one are not recognized by the other. Conflict emerges over spiritual authority and personal power. One side claims God and the other claims Self. Who says what is right and wrong? These conflicting worldviews are observed in political controversy over separation of religion and state, abortion, embryonic research, evolution verses creationism in schools, the Ten Commandments in the courtroom, etc. And those are the pragmatic issues.
In terms of spiritual values, Humanistic and Judeo-Christian worldviews are mutually exclusive. Each hold specific beliefs and its own philosophy. Hence, the term “worldview.”
Whether differing views can work together to promote human good is another question. If human beings base their ultimate values upon self actualization, (e.g., reaching the top of Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs), we better hope those setting the course are undaunted by human weakness such as greed, selfishness, or just having a bad day. Us humans are so fickle! We can’t even get a simple thing like being our own gods right. This paradox presents an internal problem to humanistic thought – the lack of Higher Power outside self makes self the higher power. In other words, man makes up the the rules as he goes along. Recently, even the humanists see a need for something spiritual in their lives. But something spiritual is unlikely to be the God of Judeo-Christian Scripture.
Unfortunately, setting aside the authenticity of Scripture requires humanistic thought to arbitrarily decide which values are most worthwhile. For example, the Christian belief that each human being is uniquely and wonderfully created by God – and possesses intrinsic value and worth – directly collides with Humanistic concepts like embryonic research, euthanasia and government sanctioned abortion. Values within these two worldviews create an oil and water experience – although both views exist, the two are not homogenous and the two shall never meet.
Why choose a counselor who shares your Spiritual Worldview?
In this culture of competing worldviews, my desire is to maximize the potential for a compatible counseling relationship. I believe it is the client’s right to choose a counselor who shares a congruent worldview. You are not shopping for a lawnmower here! This is about your life, and to think that meaningful change can occur without influencing core beliefs, thoughts, emotions and behaviors is impossible. Can this be done without accessing the soul? I think not – this is exactly what counselors do!
Theoretically, goals and objectives can be entirely met without going to into one’s spiritual worldview. However, I have found that delving deep into mental, emotional, or core relational wounds inevitably opens the door to personal values and beliefs surrounding one’s spiritual worldview.
Especially when dealing with issues that involve spirit and soul it is imperative to correlate spiritual worldviews. Since one’s spiritual identity is so personal and complex, it is generally not something to explore with those of opposing or even neutral spiritual worldviews. When a person engages therapy he or she deserves to be understood the best possible.
An advantage to my training and experience as a psychotherapist and counselor is to explore the mind and emotions in context of spiritual conflict. If one’s core spiritual beliefs are incongruent with their life experience then many problems arise. I help clients articulate those problems, expose the conflict, and offer means to reconcile the difference between belief and experience.
Many clients seek my services specifically because of my worldview, and because I integrate the Judeo-Christian spiritual philosophy directly into the counseling environment. Integration of spiritual beliefs and concepts is very important to many people, especially when they view their spiritual beliefs as a fundamental part of who they are.
Furthermore, to work within a compatible worldview offers an already laid foundation concerning values and conceptualization of the world and heavens around us. Though some differences exist even within compatible worldviews, I routinely observe a huge benefit to speaking the same core “spiritual language” as my client. Worldview compatibility enables me to encourage my clients by use of Scripture and Biblical constructs already familiar to them. Therapeutic prayer when requested by the client is an extremely powerful tool to “touch and heal” their deepest wounds of the soul.
Since the very essence of counseling is based on trust and understanding, one would think it advantageous to integrate compatible worldviews when possible. Why not begin with a common foundation if it already exists?
Victory depends on many counselors.
Thomas Isaac Berscheid, MA, LMFT, LPC
Ordained Minister and Certified Life Coach
© 2012 all rights reserved
700 Twelve Oaks Center Drive, Suite 264 – Wayzata, MN 55391 Phone: 763-227-3431