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A description of the experiences of the presence of spirituality in counselling by therapists who identify themselves as Christians Chalmers, Lynda

Abstract

This qualitative study explored the lived experience of the presence of spirituality in counselling among qualified therapists who identified themselves as practicing Christians. Opportunity was given to six men and three women representing six Christian denominations to provide the meaning and in depth expression of their experience of the presence of spirituality in counselling. Participants were experienced therapists with a Masters level or PHD degrees in counselling. The methods of inquiry and data analysis were based on an existential phenomenological approach. The researcher conducted and transcribed an interview with each participant. The significant statements from each interview were transformed into meaning units. These meaning units were clustered into themes for each participant. A follow-up interview with each contributor validated their individual descriptions and themes. Twenty-three themes emerged from the data and a common story was compiled from the exhaustive description of the phenomena. The themes were organized under the titles as follows: Integrating Themes of Psychology and Spirituality in the Presence of Spirituality in Counselling; (1) The Integration of Spirituality in the Training Process, (2) The Integration of Spirituality in the Practice of Counselling; Facilitating Themes of the Presence of Spirituality in Counselling; (3) Therapist's Predisposing Framework, (4) Client's Predisposing Framework, (5) Therapist's Spiritual Journey, (6) Therapist's Sense of Calling, (7) Spiritual Themes, (8) Spiritual Processes; Revealing Themes of the Presence of Spirituality in Counselling; (9) Mystery and Difference, (10) Connection, (11) Depth of Meaning, (12) Intensity of Emotional Experience (13) Focussed Intensity, (14) Sense of Finiteness, (15) Dependence on God, (16) Sense of Self Transcendence (17) Felt Transcendent Presence / Intervention (18) Enlivenment, (19) Hope, (20) Relinquishment and Transformation and Reflective Themes of the Presence of Spirituality in Counselling; (21) Participation in a Greater Purpose, (22) Personal Significance, (23) Professional Highlight. The findings of the study added to and extended the experiential research basis for previous conjecture regarding the presence of spirituality in counselling. The findings were interpreted in light of a literature review. The findings from the study led to implications and recommendations for further research and counselling practice.

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