In the 21st century, the use of spirituality as a mainstream form of wellness is widely received and largely accepted. Spirituality in its broadest terms can be a key component to client’s success in recovery. Navigating the waters of addiction and sobriety can be BROAD and individualized as one’s fingerprint. Spirituality has been a relatively important dynamic in the counseling industry by familiar historical theorists such as Carl Jung, Victor Frankl, and Abraham Maslow. However, some theorists would prefer it to be a “separate philosophy which would be implemented in assessments governed by the clinician’s personal religious views. Mental health professionals have been taught to adopt a stance of neutrality and remain objective and unbiased’ (as cited in Newsome & Gladding, pg. 174). Spirituality has been an important dynamic in the counseling industry by historical theorists such as Carl Jung, Victor Frankl, and Abraham Maslow. However, these early theorists would prefer it to be a separate philosophy implemented in educational forums with professors with a slate towards personal religious views. Spirituality has had unprecedented effect on the regulation of emotions and improvements in mind, body and soul idealizations of wellness. In its broadest term, wellness can be a catalyst for balance in addiction. Spirituality has a wide reach, perspective, and impact in this arena. Spirituality can range from various forms of Christianity to Buddhism, Hinduism, New Age practices, political and philosophical writings, 12 step programs and recovery practices. Newman & Gladding et al., states, “Spirituality is a capacity and tendency that is innate and unique. It moves the individual towards knowledge, love, meaning, peace, hope, transcendence, connectedness, compassion, wellness, and wholeness. It can impact the development of a value system. Religion and spirituality can be complex in its origin and involve cognitive, emotional, behavioral, interpersonal and physiological depth. There are those who would disagree with using spirituality as part of recovery. Some suggest it can be a barrier to treatment and often times alienates individuals who do not have a religious or spiritual connection. Other’s perspective is a belief that prayer alone can heal can be an unrealistic essence of faith. However, evidence-based results have shown recovery and sobriety can be enhanced and further individualized by cultural and spiritual connections. Multi-cultural groups often lean on spirituality as direct connections towards the journey to recovery. Folk healers, meditation, prayer, pastors, forms of gratitude, mindfulness, listening to spiritual music, biblical reading, spiritual paths can lead to feelings of transcendence, healing of diseases, insomnia, cravings and possibly even a promote a sense of enlightenment. Clients moods can be lifted without resorting to alcohol or drugs. Spirituality can be a direct link to a natural high without debilitating side effects.
In the popular 12 step program specifically designed for spiritual recovery for alcoholics, The Serenity Prayer is an essential component to the program’s mission statement, treatment goals, and meetings. I attended an AA meeting as part of my graduate program. Towards the close of the meeting, myself and the other members stood up, held hands and recited the biblical Lord’s Prayer which shocked me, especially in today’s climate of spiritual neutrality. One member, Mr. L turned his attention towards me, as the guest in the room, and mentioned, “You know, I don’t believe in a God who watches over people and says, ‘You are going to have cancer. You are going to use drugs. You are going to be an alcoholic.’ But, I do believe in a spiritual power greater than myself that I surrender to. Humility is what’s important. If you say, ‘I don’t have this or I don’t have that, then you’re playing the victim’s role. Everything we need we already have within us. We have the power.”
Joe Koelzer, co-founder of The Clearing states, “Spirituality in residential treatment has followed two different paths. The most subscribed path has been feeling a higher power will restore a person to sanity. This denies our native spiritual abilities and focuses our attention on a Higher Power to do the work for us. The other approach is more empowering. It entails working with Spirit to achieve a desired goal by taking the proper action steps together … Spirit meets us at our point of action.” Spiritual Psychology embraces the thought “What if spirituality isn’t about changing yourself to conform to an ideal, but rather simply embracing who you already are? What if you’re already spiritual? You are a spiritual being having a human experience.” Whatever path one chooses towards sobriety it is abundantly clear recovery may be short-lived and incomplete without the role of Spirituality.
Written by: Karen Brown