What is spirituality in counselling?

Throughout the ages, spirituality has played a central role in human life and wellbeing. It has been the guiding light for countless individuals, providing a sense of purpose, connection, and understanding of the world.


One notable figure in the realm of psychology who recognised the importance of spirituality is Carl Jung. His pioneering thoughts and contributions have greatly influenced the integration of spirituality into counselling.

Carl Jung's insights on spirituality in counselling

Carl Jung, a renowned Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, is celebrated for his profound understanding of the human psyche. He believed that spirituality and the exploration of one's inner world were integral to psychological well-being.

Jung's perspective can be summarised in several key ideas:

The collective unconscious

Jung introduced the concept of the 'collective unconscious', a realm of shared human experiences, symbols, and archetypes that transcends individual consciousness. Within this collective unconscious, he believed there lay a wellspring of spiritual and symbolic significance. Exploring this realm can help individuals make sense of their inner world and the broader human experience.


Jung emphasised the process of 'individuation', which involves a deep journey into one's self to discover the unique, authentic self. This journey often includes the exploration of spiritual aspects. According to Jung, understanding one's spirituality is a vital part of becoming a whole and self-realised individual.

Symbols and dreams

Jung placed great importance on symbols and dreams as vehicles for understanding the deeper layers of the psyche. He saw these symbols as expressions of an individual's spirituality and inner wisdom. By working with these symbols in therapy, individuals could tap into their spiritual dimensions and gain insight into their life's meaning.

Transcendence and integration

Jung believed that integrating the spiritual dimension of one's self was essential for psychological health. This integration allows individuals to transcend limitations and connect with something greater than themselves, fostering a profound sense of purpose and completeness.

Jung's thoughts on spirituality in counselling have left a lasting legacy in the field. He advocated for a holistic approach that acknowledges the spiritual dimension of human existence. Today, therapists often draw from Jungian principles to help clients explore and integrate their spirituality, enhancing their overall well-being and understanding of self.

Spirituality in counselling

In counselling, spirituality refers to exploring these inner dimensions of one's self, regardless of religious beliefs. It's about understanding your values, what drives you, and how you make sense of the world around you. It's a journey within, and it's something you can choose to integrate into your counselling experience if it resonates with you.

How can spirituality benefit clients?

Embracing spirituality can be a powerful tool in your therapy toolbox. It can help you cope with life's challenges, increase your emotional resilience, and enhance your overall well-being.

Imagine you're navigating a tough time in your life. Integrating spirituality into counselling might provide you with a unique perspective that helps you find solace and strength. It can assist you in developing a deeper understanding of your values, and in turn, this newfound clarity can guide your decisions and actions.

For instance, if you've lost a loved one, your spiritual beliefs can provide comfort and support as you grieve. They can help you make sense of the loss and find meaning in the midst of pain. Through this journey, you can discover your inner strength and a newfound ability to heal.

Addressing clients' concerns

It's natural to have concerns when considering the integration of spirituality in counselling. You may worry about potential conflicts with your therapist's beliefs or feel uncertain about the process. Rest assured, your concerns are valid, and a compassionate therapist will address them with respect.

In a counselling relationship, the therapist's role is to create a safe and non-judgmental space for you. You should never feel pressured to adopt any specific spiritual beliefs. Your spirituality is uniquely yours, and your therapist's primary goal is to help you explore it at your own pace and within your comfort zone.

It's essential to communicate openly with your therapist about your concerns and preferences regarding spirituality. They are there to listen, adapt, and support you on your journey, ensuring that you feel heard and understood throughout the process.

 Practical techniques for exploring spirituality

You might be wondering, "How do I practically explore my spirituality in counselling?" Well, there are numerous techniques and exercises that therapists can use to guide you. These activities are tailored to your individual needs and designed to foster self-reflection and insight.

For instance, journalling can be a powerful tool. Your therapist may encourage you to write about your beliefs, experiences, and questions related to spirituality. This process can help you gain clarity and better understand your inner world.

Another technique is meditation, which can promote mindfulness and a deeper connection to your spirituality. It allows you to find stillness and observe your thoughts and feelings from a place of inner calm.

Additionally, creative exercises, like art therapy or visualisation, can be used to help you express your spirituality in a non-verbal way. These activities offer a unique means of exploring and communicating your beliefs and experiences.

A client case study

The use of spirituality and ceremony is personal to the individual. After therapy sessions and in the sanctuary of her home, a client called ‘Sarah’ would light candles, each representing a different chapter of her life. The flickering glow of these candles symbolised the presence of her relatives who had passed away, as well as those she hadn't seen for far too long. The photos placed beside each candle served as visual anchors, evoking memories and connections.

With a quiet and introspective demeanor, Sarah would recite a personal prayer. It was not tied to any specific religious tradition but was a heartfelt expression of her longing to connect with those she missed and her desire for healing. Through this ritual, she created a sacred space for herself, where her spirituality found a voice, and her emotions found solace.

This personal ritual exemplifies Jung's ideas about the importance of symbols and the exploration of one's inner world. The candles and photos became symbols that allowed Sarah to connect with her spirituality, explore her feelings, and make sense of her longing and grief. In the depths of this ritual, she experienced a sense of unity with something greater than herself, transcending her everyday worries and allowing her to find a profound sense of purpose and completeness.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Twickenham TW1 & Richmond TW9
Written by Natasha Kelly, BA (Hons) MBACP
Twickenham TW1 & Richmond TW9

Natasha is a counsellor based in London and online. Her passion lies in helping individuals build meaningful connections and foster strong rapport. With a deep understanding of human emotions and interpersonal dynamics, she has worked as a primary school teacher and as a freelance writer on mental health.

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