An exploration of the counsellor's experience of integrating Christian faith with clinical practice

  • Ann Scott

Student thesis: Phd


University of ManchesterAbstract of ThesisSubmitted by: Ann ScottFor the degree of: Doctor of PhilosophyThesis Title: An exploration of the counsellor's experience of integrating Christian faith with clinical practiceSubmission year: 2011This study is based on heuristic methodology and looks at counsellor/therapists' experience of integrating Christian faith with their clinical practice. The researcher overtly includes her own material and documents her own internal process as part of the research journey. Some of this is achieved by the inclusion of portions of creative writing.The literature review covers a wide field, looking at the relationship between spirituality and counselling from both historical and contemporary writers. It includes both US and UK material and representation from both secular and Christian sources. It examines the ethics and the practicalities of integrating faith with practice.Interview material is presented from twenty-two practitioners, together with that of three named academics in the field. Initially three exemplars are described in their entirety, as representatives of different groups of counsellors within the whole sample. Four major themes of interest emerged from the academic interviews. These themes were: a) Attention to the spirituality of the counsellorb) Support for the counsellor working with the spiritual dimensionc) The effect of context, culture and language of the counsellingd) The effect of client's spirituality on the counselling process. Material from all interviewees is discussed using these themes, in relation to the literature. Specific unmet needs of the practitioners are identified.Major findings were that although counsellors with a Christian faith generally agree with the concept of their spirituality being an integral part of their work, there is variation in the level of attention paid to this. The availability of support for this integration is often problematic. Most counsellors desired more 'safe space' to explore the issue.Following the heuristic process, a model linking the psychological and spiritual perspectives emerged. This has enabled the researcher to further reflect on her own integration journey. It has since been used in workshops to facilitate other practitioners in reflecting on their individual integration.Recommendations for further research are made. The limitations of the research are noted.
Date of Award1 Aug 2011
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorWilliam West (Supervisor)


  • psychotherapy, counselling, heuristic, spirituality, Christian, integration, supervision

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