My entire career has been devoted to working with children and families in crisis. Some faced massive challenges, wrestling with seemingly insurmountable obstacles and grappling with pain, grief, and chaos. Others struggled with less distressing circumstances, wading through discomfort and uncharted territory. Despite varying degrees of distress, however, many use language and imagery that point toward a crisis of faith or spirit in the midst of it all. “Why is this happening to me - I have always tried to be a good parent!?” “What have I done to deserve this?” “How can I find calm in this chaos?”
Is there a role for spiritual care in therapeutic consulting? Many say it crosses a professional boundary to inquire about clients’ spiritual wellbeing. Others say it muddies the clinical waters to include spiritual care in consulting support. While I understand the desire to separate the clinical from the spiritual, I am also experiencing an increasing number of clients who articulate the need for gentle spiritual care in addition to practical consulting support. These are humans of all stripes - deeply religious, spiritual but not religious, agnostic, and so on. Their requests are not for specific religious rituals or rites, but to be held in spirit, to be buoyed energetically, to be truly seen in their diving nature in the midst of it all.
I am currently working toward ordination at the Chaplaincy Institute (chaplaincyinstitute.org), an interfaith seminary in California. Our seminary is truly interfaith, and our goal is to provide spiritual care for people of all faiths, of all walks of life. As I move closer to ordination, I see clearly the intersection of spiritual care and therapeutic consulting.
Parenting a struggling adolescent exacts a toll. Managing the day to day challenges depletes energy and vitality, wreaks havoc with stability and constancy, and shatters spiritual calm. Parents almost always experience relief when their child is safely ensconced in a therapeutic program. It isn’t long, however, before relief gives way to grief, despair, and exhaustion. For many parents, it becomes painfully clear that self care and spiritual care have been badly neglected in the daily chaos.
Parents need assistance with strategy and therapeutic placement. They need support managing and navigating residential treatment. They need an advocate and a sounding board. And they may also need spiritual care. Some request guidance in reconnecting with the divine, however they define it. Some ask to be energetically held in sacred space. Some need support finding internal calm. Others ask to light a candle or recite a simple prayer or mantra. There is, in my experience, a growing need for spiritual care alongside practical support, and it makes perfect sense.