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Leading a group on Spirituality in Group Counseling

Updated on April 13, 2012

I don't claim to be an expert on spirituality, but I can say that I am still learning about myself. As a therapist we must seek to learn more about ourselves and to feel comfortable in our own skin. JoAnn Campblee-Rice of Hazelden defines spirituality as a connection and relationship with others. In essence, in spirituality, we are thinking beyond ourselves. When we are spiritual we are finally comfortable in our skin. When we are spiritual we finally feel like we fit in which is a connection to others. When we are spiritual we are aware that there is something beyond ourselves. When we are spiritual we stop self seeking selfish behaviors. When we are spiritual we have peace in ourselves and with others.

At the moment I work with individuals who have drugs and alcohol issues. I have also worked with those who have bipolar or schizophrenia, etc. Working with those individuals, I realize that we are all trying to find what spiritual is for us and what a higher power is. We are all trying to find meaning in our lives. For some it may be the NA or AA group that they attend. All of those individuals involved go beyond that person and as a collective can help a person in their sobriety. That is only one example of a higher power. For others, like myself, it may be a piece of paper. I can look at a piece of paper and spill out everything I am feeling. That piece of paper and those words help me feel comfortable in my skin. It is something beyond me. I am giving every emotion and every power of me to that paper.

Now this article is about leading a group on spirituality. Before I start let me just mention that there is a big difference between Religion and spirituality. A handout was given to me by my boss and supervisor. This handout explains Religion vs spirituality

Religion

1.Structured, organized belief system

2.Rituals

3.Occurs in groups of people

4.Belief in a God or other supernatural being

5.Exclusive

6.Moral code that govern behaviors

7.One way to believe

8.Aim is to perpetuate itself

9.Closed


Spirituality:

1.Unstructured/unorganized

2.Individual practice

3.Personal choice regarding morals and beliefs

4.Inclusive

5.Internal change

6.Many ways to believe

7.Aim is living according to one’s principles

8.Open

Now to facilitate this discussion with your therapy group. I suggest explaining the difference between spirituality and religion. You can do this by making a Venn Diagram on the board. On one circle can be spirituality and on another religion. In those circles your write what each is. In the circle in between spirituality and religion it could be possible for a religious person to be spiritual.
According to the handout you may want to also help your clients your group process these questions:
Developing a Spiritual nature:
1.Connection to self- What are my values? Do I live according to what I know is “right”? 2.Connection to others- Do I have healthy, meaningful relationships? 3.Connection to something greater than myself- Am I connected to something outside myself? Am I moving beyond the self-centeredness of my addiction?
Items for discussion:1.Identify your values- what is important to you? Think about where you have become disconnected from yourself. How can you begin to reconnect with what you believe in?2.What is the nature of the relationships in your life? Do you have any that need improvement? Do you have any that need to end? What can you control? 3.What is your Higher Power? How can you become more connected to it?
Another thing I have done in group is to have the clients make a collage of spirituality through magazines. This is a great way to have them process what spirituality is. Some cut out crosses. Some cut out babies and other pictures to describe their meaning. Whatever they feel is spirituality I encourage them to find some connection that somehow makes them happy.

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