Client Spirituality and Counseling: The View of Licensed Professional Counselor Interns in the State of Texas Using Constructivist Grounded Theory



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Spirituality, is a component of the whole being that makes up an individual (ASERVIC, 2009, 2014; Robertson & Young, 2011; Wiggins, 2011). Like sensitivity to multicultural identity, sensitivity to spiritual identity needs to be incorporated into counselor preparation coursework so that the whole person is being attended to in the counseling session. This study is unique in that the focus on counseling and spirituality shifted from the viewpoint of seasoned professionals (Cashwell & Young, 2011; Richards & Bergin, 2005), academic instructors (Frame, 2003; Fukuyama & Sevig, 1999; Miller, 2003), and students under close supervision (Henriksen, et al., 2015, Weiss, 2000; West, 2007) to the experience of professional counselor interns as a rich source of information relating to first hand exposure regarding incorporating client spirituality into the practice of counseling. In this study, utilizing constructivist grounded theory (Charmaz, 2014), I sought to include the voice of licensed professional counselor interns from the state of Texas in the dialogue of counseling and spirituality as they began their professional careers. I surveyed licensed professional counselor interns gathering their responses to demographic and qualitative questions seeking information on their level of comfort, based on their training, with incorporating client spirituality, their level of comfort of addressing client spirituality, and their level of comfort with discussing client spirituality in supervision sessions. The theory revealed by this research was that the willingness of the licensed professional counselor interns to utilize client spirituality in the work of the session was contingent on three factors; (a) their personal experience with their own spirituality, (b) their perceived training in utilizing client spirituality and (c) their comfort level with even discussing spirituality. A deficit in any one of these areas impacted the licensed professional counselor interns’ willingness and perceived ability to address client spirituality in the work of the session. It was further revealed that the comfort level of discussing spirituality was contingent on (a) the licensed professional counselor intern’s faith background, (b) the client’s faith background and (c) comfort with the ethical concerns.



Counseling, spirituality, Licensed professional counselor intern (LPC-Intern), Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), Professional Counselor