Summary Therapists use of prayer interventions were higher than

Summary

The article Christian Clients’
Preferences Regarding Prayer As A Counseling Intervention (Weld , 2007)
addresses the consideration of spirituality in counseling and specifically
prayer as an intervention in counseling sessions. This article explores a study
that surveyed first visit clients and their therapists to understand beliefs
and expectations surrounding prayer in counseling sessions. The clients in the
study were identified as seeking Christian counselors. The researchers asked
several questions in survey format regarding the beliefs and expectation of the
clients and their counselors.

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The sample population consisted of 165
clients, 30 licensed counselors and 2 interns across 3 agencies, one church
counseling center and six private practices. The population was sampled from
one large and one medium city in a southwestern state. The clients were asked
to complete their surveys at the same time as they were completing their intake
paperwork at the counseling location. All surveys were completed prior to the
first counseling session. The largest percentage of the clients who completed
surveys (64%) were female. The clients were also grouped by age, ethnicity,
previous Christian counseling and reported religious affiliation. Of the
therapists surveyed, 66% were female, and they were also grouped by age,
ethnicity, religious affiliation and mean years of practice. Participants were
provided informed consent prior to being surveyed. Participants were paid a
nominal fee for their participation and data was collected over a four month
period. The survey instruments “The Prayer Survey for Clients” and “The Brief
Therapist Survey” were both created by the author, so no validity/reliability
data existed on the tool. The quantitative client survey items used a seven
point Likert scale and covered topics of “prayerfulness”, preferences of who
(client or therapist) should bring up the topic of prayer, what types of prayer
expectations existed and whether preferences for audible prayer were present.
The therapist survey duplicated the items of interest on the client survey.

The results of the survey were as
follows: 82% of clients desired audible prayer; Therapists reported greater use
of audible prayer than in other studies; Clients have higher expectations of
prayer; Therapists use of prayer interventions were higher than client desires
for them; Therapists should introduce the subject of prayer; Client
prayerfulness was related to client prayer expectations and Relationships
between therapist practices and client expectations existed. The study cited
potential limitations as: instrumentation, procedure and culturally limited
sample (Weld & Erickson, 2007).

The study concluded that the need to
incorporate spirituality into counseling practice is present. The survey
suggests further research is needed to both confirm the results and explore the
topic further. The survey also suggests exercising caution and sensitivity
surrounding the assessment used to determine client expectations. The study
addresses the ethical risks associated with prayer in counseling, specifically
in areas of client welfare, and suggests appropriate training as an important
intervention to mitigate some of those risks. (Weld , 2007)

Interaction

The article Christian Clients’
Preferences Regarding Prayer As A Counseling Intervention (Weld & Erickson,
2007) addresses a topic that many prospective counselors as well as seasoned
counselors have questions and ideas about: prayer as an intervention in
counseling sessions. For a very long time, religion and spirituality has been
held separate from professional counseling. Professionals are now beginning to
realize the importance of addressing their clients as multidimensional individuals
who have spiritual needs and beliefs that are integral to their successful
healing. The spiritual domains of clients’ lives has often been ignored or
placed on the “back burner” in exchange for exclusively secular counseling.
While there are certainly clients who do not wish to integrate spirituality
into their counseling, there are also clients who do and their needs are often
ignored. This study aimed to look at the preferences of prayer as an intervention
for people seeking Christian counseling. It seems logical and appropriate to
begin looking at this question with the population of individuals seeking
Christian counseling, but it is my hope that eventually Christians seeking
counseling from secular counselors or institutions could also be surveyed and
then ultimately all individuals seeking counseling. One of the most interesting
and salient points of the study was that most clients wanted their therapist to
take the lead and bring up the idea of prayer as an intervention. This is
particularly interesting because many therapists are taught to allow their
clients to introduce religion and spirituality into the counseling environment
so as not to offend or pressure the client. This suggests that some initial
discussion surrounding faith-based preferences could be helpful at the start of
any counseling relationship. Overall, It is clear that finding new ways to
integrate faith, worship and spirituality into counseling interventions is
paramount to industry growth and outcome improvement for many clients.

Application

            Applying the information learned from the
journal article Christian Clients’ Preferences Regarding Prayer As A Counseling
Intervention (Weld & Erickson, 2007) a counselor or prospective counselor
could enhance the therapeutic experience for their client (s). As a possible
example, a counselor in a Christian counseling setting may have a new client
present who reports struggling with familial and parenting issues. This client
may share that he and his wife are conflicted in the best way to parent their
child who is experiencing challenging behaviors in the home and school. The
client may have had negative childhood experiences surrounding discipline and
has sought out therapy to end the cycle of inappropriate discipline and improve
the relationship between he and his wife and children. Using the information
offered in the results section of the above mentioned article, the counselor
may consider that the study reported that 82% of clients desired audible prayer
in therapeutic sessions and clients preferred that therapists bring up the
topic of prayer during sessions (Weld & Erickson, 2007). Knowing this
information, during the presentation of the informed consent and intake
documents, the counselor could bring up the subject of introducing prayer into
the therapy sessions. The counselor could have an open discussion with the
client about his preferences and comfort level with prayer as an intervention.
If the client falls into the population that the study suggests and does prefer
prayer as an intervention, the counselor can then research and plan for using
prayer as a clinically appropriate intervention during the upcoming counseling
sessions. For clients who desire prayer as an intervention, having prayer in
the counseling sessions could improve their therapeutic experience and outcome.

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