The Therapist's Notebook for Integrating Spirituality in Counseling.
Article Type: Book review
Subject: Books (Book reviews)
Author: Roy, Arlin
Pub Date: 09/22/2010
Publication: Name: Annals of the American Psychotherapy Association Publisher: American Psychotherapy Association Audience: Academic; Professional Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Psychology and mental health Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2010 American Psychotherapy Association ISSN: 1535-4075
Issue: Date: Fall, 2010 Source Volume: 13 Source Issue: 3
Topic: NamedWork: The Therapist's Notebook for Integrating Spirituality in Counseling (Nonfiction work)
Persons: Reviewee: Helmke, Karen B.; Sori, Catherine Ford
Accession Number: 242897536
Full Text: The Therapist's Notebook for Integrating Spirituality in Counseling

Edited by KAREN B. HELMKE, PhD, MDiv, and CATHERINE FORD SORI, PhD

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This first volume of a two-volume set consists of 25 essays by 32 clinicians covering five areas: therapist preparation and development; assessment of spirituality; integrating spirituality into couples therapy; specific subjects or techniques for dealing with topics such as shame, recovery, humor, autobiography, forgiveness, etc.; and the use of particular spiritual practices such as scripture reading, prayer, meditation, and discernment. All chapters follow an outline that moves from background and rationale through instructions for use of handouts or techniques, inclusion of a vignette or two, and contraindications, and ending with references and other professional resources. Especially helpful: two charts cross-referencing topics, techniques, specific populations, assessment, and professional development.

The Therapist's Notebook emphasizes ethical, sensitive, and relational approaches to helping psychotherapy clients explore spirituality. The numerous illustrations, assessment tools, vignettes, and handouts--intended to stimulate introspection, journaling, and development of spiritual strengths--could stimulate nearly any psychotherapist's practical understanding of how to help clients deepen their spirituality or resolve a spiritual impasse. This, in turn, could help deepen their emotional connections with others and resolve emotional conflicts. The overall tone is enthusiastic, warm, and helpful.

There is, however, little in-depth discussion of the differences between spirituality, religion, belief, and faith; such terms are often used loosely in conjunction with each other. With better definition of terms, some chapters would be better guides to action. Second, so many activities are given spiritual import--exercise, meditation, spending time with family, serving others, humor, journaling, and many more--without assessment of their relative worth that the suggestions tend to equate to each other. Third, the underlying assumptions are almost entirely monotheistic or Christian in outlook, with a few tools from Eastern faiths adapted for Western use. However, the focus of many chapters on how relationships affect spirituality (and vice versa) advances a more universal applicability. Finally, this book seems to address only the spirituality of well-intentioned folks. Although socio-paths and narcissists generally live out their dark versions of faith in what they consider transcendent values without recourse to psychotherapy, insights into destructive spiritualities could indirectly help those victimized by others' egocentrism.

Readers of Annals will find in The Therapist's Notebook a practical source of insights and tools. It could also be a valuable first stop for exploring concepts and resources to pursue in greater depth elsewhere. No one volume can cover everything, but this caring and hopeful book does more than most. I found its broad scope and eclectic tools useful in my practice.

--Reviewed by REV. ARLIN ROY, MSW, LCSW, BCD, DAPA
Gale Copyright: Copyright 2010 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.