Counseling is defined as providing professional guidance to an individual in dealing with his or her personal or psychological problems (Bishop, 2018). Values are the morals that an individual considers acceptable concerning what is right and wrong (Bishop, 2018). Thus, through a combined approach, counseling and values are the help a professional gives to an individual while taking into consideration what they term as morally acceptable in trying to solve their problems.
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It is important to note that the professional help offered will vary from one individual to the other. Due to the distinct differences observed, counselors have to ensure they do not carry bias from one patient to another. This is often challenging in practice. The Counselling and Values Journal (CVJ) offers insights into the said challenge through a compilation of several research studies. These studies are published annually and are available on the Wiley & Sons Inc. publishers. This essay summarizes the identified article by Brittany Bishop titled “Advocating for Atheist Clients in the Counselling Profession.” The article was selected from the numerous studies published by CVJ.
According to Bishop (2018), counselors have mixed reactions when treating atheist clients. Atheists do not believe in God but instead, believe in the physical world. Atheists, thus, value guidance that they get from a scientific viewpoint as opposed to an emotional one. Bishop (2018) states that in the United States, atheists are considered a minority and marginalized group due to the prevalence of Christianity. The group has also been discriminated against due to their questioned morality. Bishop (2018) advises counselors dealing with atheists to follow the code of conduct set out in the Association for Spiritual, Ethical, and Religious Values in Counselling (ASERVIC).
ASERVIC is an association of counselors who believe that a person’s well-being is linked to spiritual, ethical, and religious values (Bishop, 2018). Thus, since atheists do not believe in religion, spirituality and ethical aspects can be used to treat them. To ensure they do not infringe on the rights of their patients, Bishop (2018) explains that counselors have to take a slower and open-minded approach in incorporating both spirituality and ethics in their sessions.
The reason behind this is the fact that both said elements are often used interchangeably with religion. Bishop (2018) suggests the use of meditation as a way of integrating both spirituality and ethics into their sessions with atheist clients.
Spiritually transformative experiences can profoundly affect how an individual views himself or herself and the world around him or her, including atheists (Bishop, 2018). These experiences involve mystical engagements with one’s soul, inspired genius, as well as personal energy, and ambition. It is important to note that the people who experience any spiritual transformation are not from a specific region but different cultures in the world.
Thus, it is beneficial to the counselor also to be knowledgeable about the client’s past and culture. In turn, he or she will be able to make the client understand himself or herself better as he or she will relate well to the analogies and treatment options suggested. Bishop (2018) also states that counselors should be advised to undertake multicultural training so that they too understand the impact of culture on personality.
Bishop, B. (2018). Advocating for Atheist clients in the counselling profession. Counselling and Values, 63(1), 17-30. Web.