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Spiritual Growth in Counseling and Supervision . Dana Wicker, Ph.D. Lori Moore, Ph.D. Candidate Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, TX. Religion versus Spirituality. Religion – beliefs, values and practices of various established religions (Shafranske & Malony, 1990)

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spiritual growth in counseling and supervision

Spiritual Growth in Counseling and Supervision

Dana Wicker, Ph.D.

Lori Moore, Ph.D. Candidate

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, TX

religion versus spirituality
Religion versus Spirituality
  • Religion – beliefs, values and practices of various established religions (Shafranske & Malony, 1990)
  • Spirituality – a relationship of our embodied selves to God that has the natural and irrepressible effect of making us alive to the Kingdom of God (Willard, 1990)
  • While these terms are not interchangeable, they are not mutually exclusive.
the christian counselor
The Christian Counselor
  • “A deeply committed, Spirit-guided (and Spirit-filled), servant of Jesus Christ
  • who applies his or her God-given abilities, skills, training, knowledge, and insight
To the task of helping others move to a personal wholeness, interpersonal competence, mental stability and spiritual maturity.”

(Collins,1993, p. 21)

“The counselor has a deep faith; counsels with excellence; holds a Christian world view; is guided by Christian values in choosing the means, goals, and motivations of counseling; actively seeks the presence and work of God; and actively utilizes spiritual interventions and resources within ethical guidelines.”

(Bufford, 1997)

Clinton and Ohlschlager propose that Christian counselors have a Paracentric focus. Counselors need to yield to the Paraklete of God, the Holy Spirit, and be single-mindedly focused on Christ.

(Competent Christian Counseling)

christian counseling
Christian Counseling
  • Unique Assumptions
  • Unique Goals
  • Unique Methods
  • Unique Counselor Characteristics

(Collins, 1988)


An intervention provided by a more senior member of a profession to a more junior member or members of that same profession. This relationship is evaluative, extends over time, and has the simultaneous purposes of enhancing the professional functioning of the more junior person(s), monitoring the quality of professional services offered to the client(s) she, he, or they see(s), and serving as a gatekeeper of those who are to enter the particular profession. (Bernard and Goodyear: Fundamentals of Clinical Supervision, 1998)

christian supervision
Christian Supervision
  • An additional purpose for a Christian supervisory relationship is to mentor the junior member by modeling a spiritual walk and aiding the supervisee in his or her spiritual walk and growth.
learning objectives
Learning Objectives
  • Identify spiritual growth themes relevant to the Christian counselor and supervisor.
  • Learn to apply specific exercises of spiritual growth themes in counseling and supervision
  • Develop supervisory or counseling strategies to balance clinical competency and spiritual growth.
what is spiritual growth
What is Spiritual Growth?

Spiritual Growth as the Process of Sanctification

Romans 12:2 ~ Colossians 1:9-12 ~ I Thessalonians 4:3-9



We Will Be Completely Sanctified

1Thess 5:23; 1 John: 3:2


We are Being Sanctified

Phil 3:12-14.



We Were Sanctified

1 Cor. 6: 11

progressive sanctification
Progressive Sanctification


“The concept is not of sin being totally eradicated or merely counteracted, but of a divinely wrought character change freeing us from sinful habits and forming in us Christlike affections, dispositions, and virtues.” J. I. Packer

the growth process
The Growth Process

Coral Reefs


Goal of Sanctification: The Model of Christ

The Profile of Christ ~ Galatians 5:22 Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self Control

Sanctification Joined by Love 1 Thess. 4:7-10; I Cor. 13:4-10 Patient and Kind Not: jealous, bragging, arrogant, unbecoming in action, self seeking, provoked, or rejoicing in unrighteousness Forgiving Rejoices with truth Perseveres, Hopes, and Endures

means of sanctification
Human Pursuit Phil 3:12-17


Pursuing God’s Truth


Following the model of others

Yielding self to God

Divine Grace

The Cross

God’s Power

Phil 2:12-13

God’s Truth

John 17:17

Holy Spirit

Gal 5:17-22; Rom 8:2

Means of Sanctification

(Evans & Coder, 1998)

facilitating spiritual growth


Relationship is Crucial to Effective Supervision

characteristics of christ








Self Controlled

Not: jealous, bragging, arrogant, unbecoming in action, self seeking, provoked, or rejoices in unrighteousness


Rejoices with truth

Perseverant, Hopeful, and Endures

Characteristics of Christ
7 types of supervisees


Anxiety Prone

Bull in China Cabinet

Laissez Faire

Under No Authority

Eager Beaver

7 Types of Supervisees
human divine shaping22
Human & Divine Shaping



Into the Image of Christ

every supervisee is uniquely created in god s image
Every Supervisee is Uniquely Created in God’s Image
  • Spiritual Mapping
    • A Chronological Timeline
    • Symbolizes positive and negative spiritually significant events that may impact the therapeutic process
    • Narrative Approach
spiritual mapping example
Spiritual Mapping Example

Began Dealing with Abuse Issues



Dad Died

Closer Walk with God



supervision a paradigm shift
Supervision: A Paradigm Shift
  • Maintaining a Counselor Versus Client Mentality
    • Pitfalls of a client mentality
      • Missing growth opportunities
      • Overwhelming the counselor with instruction
      • Unethical focus on the counselor as a client
bernard s discrimination model
Bernard’s Discrimination Model
  • Advantages
    • Addresses Supervisee Uniqueness
    • Shared Supervisory Language
    • Accommodates Theory & Spirituality
    • Means of Evaluation
    • Direction & Purposeful Supervision
supervisory focus roles

Conceptualization Skills - underlying processes & related theory

Intervention Skills - what the counselor does in session from start to finish

Personalization Skills- Personal contributions: traits, history, beliefs, culture, etc.

Supervisory Focus & Roles
supervisory focus roles29
Supervisory Focus & Roles
  • Roles
    • Teacher - Determines and fulfills educational needs
    • Counselor - Addresses interpersonal meaning of session events or personal issues influencing therapeutic process (i.e. anxiety or doubt)
    • Consultant - Shared Responsibility/Resource & Brainstorming
conceptualization skills spiritual growth adapted from polanski 2003
Conceptualization Skills & Spiritual Growth (Adapted from Polanski,2003)
  • Essential spiritual growth themes
  • Integration of spiritual growth themes, history, & current functioning
  • Influence of spiritual beliefs on current issues
  • Client spiritual growth, theological understanding, & counseling theory
    • Ideological consistency
  • Intervention formulation
intervention skills spiritual growth adapted from polanski 2003
Intervention Skills & Spiritual Growth (Adapted from Polanski,2003)
  • Spiritual growth assessment
  • Level of engagement
  • Skills employed to establish therapeutic relationship
  • Use of self
  • Type and execution of interventions
  • Ethical practices & sensitivity
personalization skills spiritual growth adapted from polanski 2003
Personalization Skills & Spiritual Growth (Adapted from Polanski,2003)
  • Competency to handle personal reactions
  • Self awareness of spiritual events or beliefs that hinder or enhance therapy
  • Self awareness of unique expression of Christ’s character
  • Identification & resolution of resistance, anxiety, or avoidance
  • Continued personal spiritual growth
practicing the presence of god
Practicing the Presence of God
  • being aware of the constant companionship of God,
  • Hebrew lif-nei “to the face of”, Greek en-o-pi-on “in the face”
  • The abstract concept of presence is conveyed in the concrete image of facing another. (Words of Worship, iWorship Daily Devotional Bible p119)
Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friends.

Exodus 33:11 NAS

reasons to practice the presence of god
Reasons to Practice the Presence of God
  • Reality is God is with us.
    • God is omnipresent – 1 Kings 8:27, Psalm139:7-10, Isaiah 66:1, Jeremiah 23:23 Acts 7:48, 17:24
    • As Spirit-filled Christians God is with us, individually and personally – John 14:16-17, John 16-7

We are always in the presence of God. We never leave church. There is never a nonsacred moment.”

Max Lucado in iWorship Daily Devotional Bible

reasons to practice the presence of god39
Reasons to Practice the Presence of God
  • Throughpracticing God’s presence we experienceGod’s wisdom, guidance, power and comfort.
    • Experiencing God’s presence is not just head knowledge.
    • Wisdom - John 14:26
Guidance - Romans 8:14
  • Power - I Corinthians 2:4, 2 Corinthians 3:17, Luke 24:49, Act 1:8
  • Comfort - Acts 9:31.
reasons to practice the presence of god41
Reasons to Practice the Presence of God
  • Through practicing God’s presence we more easily hear Him during our counseling sessions. By practicing God’s presence we are already tuned to hearing Him throughout the day not just when we counsel.
reasons to practice the presence of god42
Reasons to Practice the Presence of God
  • Practicing God’s presence is a way of showing God our love for Him.
    • Matthew 22:37 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind.
    • Believe me count as lost each day you have not used in loving God. (Brother Lawrence p. 35)
ways of practicing god s presences
Ways of Practicing God’s Presences
  • Journaling - keeping a record of times when one was particularly aware of God’s presence, or answering a series of questions designed to aid in personal exploration.
    • When was a time that you were particularly aware of God’s presence?
Describe a time when you questioned God’s presence or felt that you were alone.
  • What was different between the time that you were aware of God’s presence and the time you were not aware of this presence.
  • What can you do to be more aware of God’s presence?
Are there times when you do not want to be in God’s presence?
  • Describe a time in counseling or ministering that you were aware of the Holy Spirit’s guidance.
  • Describe a time this week that you were aware of God’s presence
    • On God’s Word - Psalm 1:2
    • On God’s Works that you observed - Luke 2:51
  • Pray without ceasing - 1Thessalonians 5:17
“We should establish ourselves in a sense of God’s presence by continually conversing with Him. It is shameful thing to stop conversing with God to think of unimportant things and foolishness.”

Brother Lawrence

“For me the time of activity does not differ from the time of prayer and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen, while several persons are together calling for as many different things, I possess God in as great tranquility as when upon my knees at the blessed Sacrament”

Brother Lawrence, p16

Singing or listening to Christian music – Ephesians 5:12
  • Spending time in solitude – Matthew 4:1, Mark 1:35, Matthew 26:38-42
    • To hear the voice of God better
    • To express worship to God
    • To express faith in God
    • To seek the salvation of the Lord
    • To be physically and spiritually restored
    • To regain spiritual perspective
    • To seek the will of God (Whitney,1991)
questions to ponder
Questions to Ponder
  • Am I religious or spiritual in the supervisory process?
  • Have I taken the time to develop a theology of spiritual growth?
  • Have I constructed a theory of counseling that aligns with my theology?
  • Are there events in my own life that have drawn me to God grace or hardened me to sin?
Am I pursuing the active practice of sanctification by both human and divine means?
  • What current events is God using to produce His character in me?
  • Am I modeling the image of Christ to those God has brought into my life?
  • Am I actively practicing the presence of God?