If you or a family member were going to a therapist or counselor, how important would you consider the religious faith of that person? I admit, I haven’t given that much thought, but in some cases, it can be pretty important, according to one area counselor.
MaryAnn Cook, a counselor at Alliance Counseling and Coaching in Channahon and a Christian, said it helps the counselor-client team understand each other better, for one thing.
“When I was in training,” Cook said, “I learned that you need to look at them through the lens of the life they’ve grown up with...If they are Christian, that’s an additional lens I can use in my filter. I think it brings more caring and compassion to the individual when you look at them through the lens of their life.”
It’s not absolutely necessary to work with a counselor of your faith, though, she said, especially if he or she has a common value system with you.
“I have counseled those of all faiths,” she said. “But if faith is a very, very important part of your life, you may have more effective communication with someone who shares your values or at least doesn’t diminish or dismiss them...It could be very important in light of the social issues we deal with.”
Perhaps the counselor is not of your denomination or even a Christian, she said, but there are other religions that share many of the same values. Cook said she would be cautious about a devout Christian counseling with an atheist, though.
“That may be setting you up for conflict,” she explained.
Cook said she may learn about her clients’ spiritual affiliations during their initial assessment session. She asks them what part faith plays in their lives. A client can also ask about their counselor’s faith, too, she said.
“You can ask, ‘What is your underlying faith?’” she said.
Cook works with her husband, Minister and Life Coach Steve Cook. Either can be reached at Alliance Counseling and Coaching, 815- 467-8181.