Recently I was handed an article from the Georgia LPCA newsletter, authored by a counseling student at Argosy University. The title was “Religion in Counseling: A Non-religious Student’s Experience in the Classroom.”
Right out of the gate I was aghast. The author opens with “The counseling profession is a field that embraces multi-culturalism and promotes social justice.” Seriously? Who is teaching this kid? As a seasoned professional I have to say I don’t “embrace” anything of the sort or promote a damn thing that is not of therapeutic value.
He goes on to say that “This means that counselors should have the knowledge and skills to work with clients in a way that empowers and promotes client’s cultural values.” Hmmm, sort of. What if those “cultural values” are primary contributors to the client’s fundamental problem? What then, student? Are you willing to challenge (or more accurately allow the client to challenge with an open mind) these entrenched beliefs?
I don’t care if you are gay, straight, black, brown, republican or democrat, commie (lol) or any other identity. I will treat you with kindness and compassion. How you treat me is your choice. I think and behave this way because it is MY CHOICE. No one has compelled me via political or cultural “correctness” to do so.
Now comes the really fun part. The author states “…it was also disheartening as I realized I was part of a marginalized (oh how I hate that word) group that had little or no representation in the field I was pursuing. The struggles of the non-religious such as atheists, agnostics or secularists were never mentioned in text or discussed in the classroom.”
Of course they weren’t. Your “struggles” are of your own creation! Your sense of marginalization is your sense and also of your own creation. By virtue of considering yourself “marginalized” you have now painted ME with the brush of being the marginalizer.
The faith, religious, sexual or cultural orientation of both the clinician and patient is of little concern except as how it informs the problem the patient wishes to address. The Rogerian concept of unconditional positive regard is, at least in my office, in full force. My personal opinions as to “LGBTQ+” (now I don’t even know what the + is; it just keeps getting messier and messier!) or religion or whatever are quite irrelevant and do not inform the treatment. Nor should they. I suppose there are those poor dumb providers who do allow their personal beliefs to infect the therapeutic process, and that is unfortunate. I would like to say that it is now up to the patient to confront this but it would be naïve of me to think this would happen. Find another provider, as you have obviously encountered an idiot.
The exception to my judgment is when a provider clearly represents themselves as a specific type of counselor, i.e. Christian counseling. If you should choose to engage with one of these then you should certainly expect their orientation to inform the treatment. I could be considered one of these, but if you see me through the Atlanta DBT office you may never know that I am a Christian, nor is it relevant, and I am professional (and mature) enough to not let my beliefs infect our process. But if you are referred through my church then you betcha, I will work through the lens of the Gospel and if that bothers you then I will gladly refer you to someone else.
You can tell me that you’re gay, drug addicted, gender uncertain, whatever. My response will be “Okay. What can I do for you?” And if your concern is the feeling of being marginalized I would ask then, “So why do you want to feel that way?” “Well I don’t!” Okay, now we have something to work on…
The Wise Mind recognizes that this is nothing more than an emotional response to information and then chooses accordingly.