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Spirituality in psychotherapy : the psychologist's experience.

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Aim: This study aimed to explore how psychologists experience and respond to clients introducing spirituality in therapy. It also aimed to explore when and how the psychologist recognises their own limits of competence in the areas pertaining to the client’s spirituality, and how they manage this. Methodology: Qualitative research methods were utilised to carry out this study which attempts to “describe and interpret” participants' feelings and lived experience in “human terms” (Terre Blanche, Kelly & Durrheim, 2006, p. 272). A thematic analysis was used to analyse the data collected. This approach aims to discover, interpret and analyse themes emerging from the text to provide a rich description of the data (Terre Blanche et al., 2006). Six psychologists participated in this study and were interviewed using semistructured interviews. Findings: The overarching findings of this study are that the psychologists’ values, biases, judgements and/or acceptance of their clients’ spirituality and their view of its place in therapy are informed by their personal values and spirituality. It highlights the need for psychologists to be aware of how their own spiritual beliefs and their personal experiences of other spiritualties affect their response to clients in therapy. The findings also suggest that psychologists seldom consider their competence in dealing with spirituality in psychotherapy which means that they open themselves up to working outside of their scope of practice and in violation of ethical practice.


M. Soc. Sc. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg. 2014.


Spirituality., Psychotherapy--Religious aspects., Psychology and religion., Psychologists., Theses--Psychology.