Spirituality in Helping Relationships: Sharing Personal Awareness and Professional Practice

Spirituality in Helping Relationships:  Sharing Personal Awareness and Professional Practice
Saturday, September 3, 2016 - 12:00am

Spirituality in Helping Relationships: 
Sharing Personal Awareness and Professional Practice

Saturday 3rd September 2016
Mansfield College, Oxford, United Kingdom

~ A One Day Workshop ~
Continuing Professional Development Certified
Dr Peter Bray

The Workshop

When an individual is confronted with challenging and personally distressing life events they are more likely to seek out known or proven religious or spiritual avenues for relief and turn their existing beliefs into practice. When people get desperate they want answers to existential questions that will make sense and give meaning to their new circumstances. Helpers working with struggling clients may well know how to assist them practically but may not be able to share their choiceless journeys, understand their clients’ pain and use it to support them to negotiate their unique responses to these questions and reconcile themselves to a new life.

Internationally the work and professional identities of professional helpers, such as counsellors, social workers and allied social and medical service providers, have become increasingly interested in the impact that spiritual experiences have upon the lives of their clients. This growing awareness of clients’ spiritual journeys, already of major interest to bicultural and multicultural practices, has been spurred on by a genuine concern to examine the spiritual experiences of clients and their helpers and is underpinned by scholarly work and practice both in the medical humanities and humanistic, transpersonal, and positive psychologies. Recent research, for example, into the influence that spiritual factors have on bereavement, grief work, and post-traumatic growth and the outcomes for health when spiritual resources are utilised by clients and helping professionals generally reports very positive outcomes.

In medical practice particularly and counselling and therapy broadly, the obligation to competently assess distress associated with ‘Religious or Spiritual Problem[s]’ was signalled in the American Psychiatric Association’s DSM-IV, published in 1994. The following year the American Counseling Association (ACA) called a Summit on Spirituality which suggested nine Competencies for Addressing Spiritual and Religious Issues in Counseling, that were adopted by the ACA in 2009 and have subsequently assisted counsellors in the U.S.A. to develop practice frameworks that allow them to understand and work effectively with clients’ spiritual lives and guide educational programmes and course designs. The competencies address four domains of practice:

 Knowledge of spiritual phenomena

 Awareness of one’s own spiritual perspective
 Understanding clients’ spiritual perspectives; and,
 Spiritually related interventions and strategies

Across the world professional bodies have begun to recognize and respect the importance of spirituality as an aspect of their clients beliefs and faiths – for example,  one of the ten core competence standards required by the New Zealand Social Work Registration Board is the ‘competence to work respectfully and inclusively with diversity and difference in practice,’ and the ‘Professional Capabilities Framework for Social Workers in England’ suggests that social workers should ‘understand psychological, social, cultural, spiritual and physical influences on people.’ Nurses in the UK, in their practice and decision making with the ‘service user,’ are also required to ‘carry out comprehensive, systematic nursing assessments that take account of relevant physical, social, cultural, psychological, spiritual, genetic and environmental factors’.

Workshop Aims

The workshop will explore and examine together the following broad questions:

What is my understanding of the relationship that I have with spirituality in my day-to-day life?
How can I be more aware of the impact of spirituality on my relationships and with myself?
How is spirituality addressed in my role as a professional helper with clients and colleagues in my work setting(s)?
How might I competently and safely incorporate spirituality into my professional practice?

Workshop Learning Objectives

By the end of this workshop participants will:

Enjoy a fuller appreciation of their day-to-day relationship with spirituality.
Be more aware of and be able to articulate how spirituality impacts upon their relationships.
Have a greater understanding of how spirituality might be addressed in their role as a professional helper with clients and colleagues in their work settings.
Begin to incorporate spirituality safely in their professional practice

Workshop Leader

Peter Bray is a counsellor and a teacher living and working in New Zealand. In his role as a Senior Lecturer in the School of Counselling, Human Services and Social Work at the University of Auckland, Peter co-ordinates and leads the counsellor education programme. As a practitioner and researcher Peter is primarily influenced by the nature of the counselling process and, at its centre, the therapeutic relationship.  Currently he is interested in outcomes for individuals who are challenged by crises, and spirituality as a resource in post-traumatic growth. Peter has recently edited a number of collections of work with the Inter-Disciplinary Press that broadly discuss the impact of trauma and that examine the positions of patients in a variety of settings.

Who Should Attend?

The workshop is intended to be of benefit to individuals who work in any capacity as professional helpers in diverse settings that may include, but are not limited to, clinicians and therapists, social service workers and those in pastoral care, and who are interested in developing their own awareness of spirituality, sharing their understanding and knowledge of spirit-centred practices and finding out more about themselves and their work with clients.


For further details and information about the content of the workshop please contact Peter Bray:p.bray@auckland.ac.nz
For further details and information about the workshop, the venue and any adminitstrative matters please contact: spiritualitycpd@inter-disciplinary.net


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