Spirituality a 'Critical Part' of Counseling, Says Veteran Trainer

Spirituality is a "critical part" of counseling, according to veteran trainer Ron Kallmier.

"There is a deep cry in the human spirit for something outside themselves, for help outside themselves, for meaning outside themselves," the Australian counselor told The Christian Post.

The former director of training at CWR, Kallmier is in Singapore training Christian counselors during a three-week course organized by CWR. The course is on the principles of biblical counseling and emphasizes the need for holistic treatment of the human personality. According to its model, the personality is comprised of spirituality, rationality, choices and behavior, emotions and the physical body. Kallmier helped revise the course for the current generation.

In an interview with The Christian Post, he said people "cry out to God even when they're not claiming to be Christians or [adherents of] any other religion," he expressed from personal experience.

"In times of extreme of pain, they cry out, 'God, help me'… and there seems to be something almost intuitive in the human spirit that does that," he said. "Even though it can't be measured empirically … there is something that we can call the human spirit, that core, that part of our being that hungers for something greater than ourselves."

Earlier during a lecture, Kallmier, 67, pointed out that all counselors bring their worldview into their practice.

Explaining the limitations of secular counseling, he said in general, secular counselors "don't see (spirituality) as a reality."

"They don't see that as just the way the human mind functions," he noted.

Indeed, problems that counselees face are "usually relationally based," he recognized.

"The problems surface relationally between individuals and God, even though they may be unaware of it, or relational between human and human," he said. "They're often the core difficulties that people face."

Another trainer, Andre Radmall, agreed.

"People are effectively lost and in trouble without knowing the saving grace and love of God," Radmall, 48, said. "So often people come from backgrounds where they're not been loved and part of our work is to help restore people to the love of God."

Radmall is a counselor in private practice and an ordained minister of the Church of England.

On whether Christian counselors should be upfront about their religious beliefs, Kallmier emphasized that they should understand and respect the worldview of their counselee even if it differs from theirs.

"That's where they are," said the former denominational leader and senior pastor. "And you won't help them if you try and impose your belief structure on that person as a sort of requirement for counseling."

For the past five years, CWR has been conducting the Christian counseling course known as the International School of Christian Counseling.

The course seeks to "train [Christians] to be more skillful in helping people with their needs and problems," the Rev. Canon Dr. James Wong explained to The Christian Post. He oversees the development of CWR in Asia.

CWR founder the late Dr. Selwyn Hughes started the course some 20 years ago. Then Hughes delivered the course in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and worldwide, Kallmier highlighted.

Thirty-five pastors, counselors and others including housewives are attending the course in Singapore. The event is being held at the St. Andrew's Cathedral.

CWR also conducted a seminar that explored underlying causes of difficulties families face and solutions to them.

The Saturday event, also conducted at the cathedral, saw an attendance of 80 professionals and people in need. It was held as part of CWR's Insight Days series, which are one-day courses, seminars or workshops on a particular topic. The series covers issues such as dementia, eating disorders, depression, anger and forgiveness.

In the U.K. where it is based, CWR offers more extensive counseling programs. The ministry has recently developed a BA program in partnership with Roehampton University in London.

CWR's Waverly Model of counseling

CWR uses a three-step model for counseling.

The first is the exploration step. This is where people really discover what the other person is like and what their issues are and why they have come for counseling, Kallmier explained.

Then, the counselor helps the counselee develop a deeper understanding of the problem. The concept of the five areas of the human personality highlighted earlier is used.

The third step is to facilitate some form of resolution for the counselees. This is so they feel they understand what is going on beneath superficial issues.

CWR's counseling course is focused on understanding the human personality and the problem, introducing its model of counseling and looking at specialist areas like marriage, depression and youth. During the course, counseling skills as well as skills for listening, questioning and reflecting are taught.