Ethics of Religion

Published: 2021-09-13 22:20:08
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Category: Psychology

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The question of the ethical use of religion and spirituality in psychological therapy is often a debated one. Some counseling is purely based on the rules of a given religion while others strictly stay away from that interconnection. Recently the idea of adapting therapy to a patients religion has been looked at more by researchers. Is this method helpful, hurtful or really of no consequence? This is the question being asked by psychologists, researchers and patients. One important matching characteristic may be a patient’s religious beliefs and values. (Hook, 2014) If the use of spiritual counseling limits the ability of the psychologist to really treat the patient should that be considered when looking at a therapy process for each patient. Does the influence of religion effect the competence of the psychologist? Would the religious beliefs of the therapist conflict with the beliefs of the patient? These are all questions that need to be addressed. One of the hardest parts of psychology is the need to ignore one’s own beliefs and feelings. According to a study done in 2009 adapting therapy to a patient’s religious and spiritual beliefs was found to be effective because it connected the patient to long standing ideas and values. (H) While the idea of religious based therapy has been studied recently there is a lack of couples therapy that includes the integration of religion. The studies that have been done with couples and their religion is mostly church based pre-marital and couple’s education. Religion also plays a big part in the therapy of persons with multiple relationships. Should the treatment be about the individual’s mental health or their personal choices? This leaves a huge gap in psychology especially with the increase of not only marriage but couple’s therapy being done. There is a large amount of couple’s therapy being done that includes religion, especially the Christian religion, but the complete lack of empirical research is rather uncomforting. This gap in use and research calls into question the compentency of the therapist and their process of treatment. Another factor is the multitude of literature on the use of religion in therapy without being backed with concrete evidence. Despite there being a large nationwide organization specifically for Christian couple therapy called The American Association of Christian Counseling there is almost no research that even documents what goes on during one of these types of sessions. (H)One of the biggest problems with incorporating religion into therapy is the contrast of beliefs and known methods of helping patients. At no time is it okay for a therapist to impose their personal beliefs on a patient but when should the therapist impose the patients religious beliefs to treat them? There is also concerns about being able to find specialist for different religions. There needs to be a certain level of training for a therapist to be able to rightfully integrate spirituality and religion into their practice and there are questions about whether this is really being inforced through education. (G) A newer issue that is being brought into the use of religion in therapy is the addition of sexual orientation. A therapist should go into each session with a blank slate and completely open mind but many people have a hard time with this concept. Researchers have explored this very idea is more recent years and there has been a link shown between religiosity and homophobia among clinicians. (G) There are while there are religious and spiritual traditions that are affirming of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals, couples, and families, scholars have highlighted the potential conflict that may exist for some religious therapists between following their ethical obligation to provide competent services to LGBT clients and following the teachings of their faith tradition (Balkin et al. 2009; Bowers et al. 2010; Fallon et al. 2013; Fischer and DeBord 2007). However, there has been little research exploring the relationship between the training that students receive on integrating spirituality and religion in therapy and their beliefs about working with LGBT clients. Therefore, this study sought to examine the relationship between the type and level of clinical training that students receive related to spirituality and religion and their beliefs about providing therapy services to LGBT clients.

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