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How Christian religious/spiritual faith helps and hinders counsellors’ empathy towards clients Morrison, Marie

Abstract

The relationship between Christian religion and spirituality and the empathy of counsellors was investigated. The study examined this relationship by using the Critical Incident Technique (CIT) to investigate how religion and spirituality helps and hinders empathy towards clients. Twelve counsellors identified 241 helping and 25 hindering incidents that formed 14. helping and 3 hindering categories. The following helping categories had the highest participation: relationship to faith leading directly/naturally to an empathic relationship with the client, connecting to the spiritual in the counselling relationship or the client, and drawing on religious values of compassion, mercy, arid acceptance. The most highly endorsed hindering category was client's actions are contrary to the counsellor's belief system. Nine checks supported the credibility and trustworthiness of the interviews, incidents, and category system. Important meta-themes observed in the category structure as informing empathy were: following biblical instructions/examples, the experience of one's spirituality, and common culture/life experiences.

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