With all this blogging on therapy and religion, it’s important to clear something up. Even though therapy and religion can intersect, therapy is not a religion.
In my opinion, therapists worth working with have morals and ethics and a respect for their own community and spiritual traditions. Not everyone agrees. However, most will agree that it is essential for your therapist to be respectful of your spiritual belief system–to find something about it worthy of respect, even if it conflicts with his beliefs.
At the very least, he must respect your right to have a genuine religious or spiritual belief system.
A therapist shouldn’t be dismissive or impatient of your expressions of belief and shouldn’t challenge your deeply held religious convictions. I feel that if the topic is discussed and your belief system is simply impossible for a therapist to respect, he should recuse himself from treating you and make a referral to another therapist.
The same can be said conversely–if your therapist has a set of beliefs that you absolutely think are untenable, you may want to see someone else. Readers’ comments in our God in Therapy series actually touch on this possibility. Although I believe that in order to do good psychotherapy your basic spiritual beliefs should be known, if the topic doesn’t arise, then the point is moot.
(A part of this blog post was adapted from my book, Therapy Revolution: Find Help, Get Better, and Move On Without Wasting Time or Money).