Posted by: Marie | May 13, 2009

(68) How do I make my case?

Post #68
[Emails to and from the author of an article on religion in therapy exchanged on Monday, August 11, 2008]

Hi, Mr. Rosen –

I just read an article you wrote . . you stated that you believe a therapist’s religious beliefs have no place in psychotherapy.

I have been working with a Christian therapist — and I am not a Christian (I see all religions as valid and embrace a more “new age” belief system). When I engaged his services, he assured me he could keep his beliefs out of the therapy and that he could and would respect my beliefs.

Well, recently, that has not been the case. My spiritual beliefs have come into the conversation a few times and this last time, he made very emphatic statements along the lines of, “but that belief can’t be right because the Bible says. . ” and “your beliefs can’t be valid because you have no proof” and “you are making up your own religion and therefore you consider yourself to be your own god”. (Um . . I may be confused about several things, but I am quite clear that I am not a god, or an angel, or an alien . . . LOL)

He feels that he is helping me by “questioning” my beliefs. I see it as blatant disrespect of my beliefs because he is judging my beliefs against his own belief system. If he were actually helping to identify and resolve conflicts I may have in my belief system, it would be valuable, but that is not what is happening.

I don’t want to remove discussion of spiritual matters from my therapy because my spirituality is a huge part of who I am. However, if he continues in this manner, I will have to block all discussion of spiritual matters – and that will likely become a deal-breaker for me and will cause me to end our professional relationship.

Can you recommend a way, a series of logical thoughts, a strong statement that I can share with him that might cause him to see how his choice of words is disrespectful, and to see how he would be more effective if he didn’t pass judgment on my beliefs?

I am struggling with this mostly because it is a replay of what happened with my dad when I was a kid – my opinions and beliefs were squashed. I am just now learning how to assert my opinions and beliefs, earn respect from others, define and vocalize my needs, set boundaries, etc. I haven’t figured out how to handle this situation and my therapist is not being helpful because his beliefs are getting in the way. Can you help?

Thank you!
– Marie


Marie –

Thanks for your feedback regarding my article. My suggestion to you is that you show him the letter you wrote to me. Good luck.

Mitchell Rosen

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