Reply to: Morgan

There are many differences that exist between individualist and systemic approaches to therapy. In individual therapy, therapists focus on the “causes, purposes, and cognitive, emotional, and behavioral processes” (Corey,2017, p. 405) that contribute to the client’s psychological distress. They are concerned with the individual experiences and perceptions of that client (Corey, 2017). In contrast, systemic therapists are concerned with the family as a whole. They invite members of the family to join the session, and then focus on the relationship between family members, as well as the culture, processes, and rules of the family to determine what is reinforcing psychological distress in the original client (Corey, 2017). Systemic therapy can be a valuable approach in that it creates opportunity for understanding certain contributing factors to distress that would otherwise not exist (Corey, 2017). There are some factors of distress that cannot be determined independent of the family system. However, despite the value of the systemic approach, solely focusing on the family system may have the opposite effect. While there are some factors that are dependent on the family system, there are some that may need to remain independent of the family. Family dynamics may be outside the scope of the client’s perceptions and experiences, and may require an individual, rather than systemic, approach to therapy. An effective therapist must be sensitive in determining whether an individual or systemic approach will be appropriate for their specific clients.

            Just as multiculturalism is an imperative consideration in counseling practice, considering religion and spirituality in counseling is also of great importance. Religion and spirituality often serve as a means for finding deeper meaning in life, which is a similar goal of counseling (Gilbride, Shannonhouse, and Kessler, 2018). Discounting religion and spirituality in a counseling session could lead to an ineffective and unethical practice. Corey (2017) states that “spiritual or religious beliefs can be a major sustaining power that supports clients when all else fails” (p. 436). If this is removed from consideration in a counseling session, the client may experience greater distress as a result of losing the foundation in which they find strength. Because people often view their lives through a lens of spirituality and religion, removing this lens would result in the client feeling lost and insecure. Competent counselors must consider all cultural, spiritual, and religious factors that contribute to a client’s identity, experiences, and perceptions.

Corey, G. (2017)Theory and practice of counseling and psychotherapy (10th ed.).Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning. 

Gilbride, D., Shannonhouse, L., & Kessler, S.J. (2018). Using Religious Studies Theory to Access the Sacred in Counseling. Counseling & Values, 63(2), 132-146. https://doi.ord/10.1002/cvi.12084

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