What is Spiritual Counseling?

We all have times when our day to day life, our moment to moment existence feels quite, unrelated to our death, the whole of our life, and to the cosmos that is its setting. Is it time for you to connect them?
1. What is spiritual counseling? 

When one thinks of the word “spiritual” it may evoke religion, art, music, literature. When we are caught up in the immediate and individual needs that life places upon us, we often forget that the universe and a greater whole is present in every aspect of day to day living. These considerations yield wisdom, comfort, relief from anxiety and a sense of meaning in our lives. When we sit in the presence of a trained counselor and raise questions, share our thoughts, wrestle with what troubles us, we can begin to develop or deepen our own spiritual awareness and tools to relate to our life challenges. 

2. How is spiritual counseling different from other forms of counseling? 

Psychotherapy and other forms of counseling operate on a model of addressing problem solving and pathology through a variety of modalities. Spiritual counseling, which may be done in conjunction with psychotherapy, differs by going beyond analysis of the ego and personality, exploring the states and areas of our consciousness that go beyond the limits of personal identity – commonly called the transpersonal realm. Property of the Jewish Healing Center of Los Angeles, Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. All rights reserved. 

3. When is it appropriate to seek out spiritual counseling? 

Any time. Innate spiritual seekers work to develop a spiritual vocabulary, a frame of reference that they are always seeking to refine or deepen. More commonly, people are brought to spiritual counseling by life crisis. They seek to know if there is something beyond their individual experience that holds the key to release from their current challenges and suffering. They may face grief from loss, relationship issues, issues of identity, creativity, illness – anything that prompts deep questions about the nature of being, the world, life and death. 

4. Is there a code of confidentiality? 

Absolutely. That is an area that psychotherapy and spiritual counseling share. Confidentiality is honored and maintained. Additionally, the spiritual counseling practitioner is aware of and draws attention to sacred presence and holiness in the shared relationship, which honors and respects the individual. 

5. Is spiritual counseling only for individuals, or is it sometime done for couples, families, or groups? 

Spiritual counseling assumes that the fabric of human relationships is the underpinning of our being and therefore when we are in crisis or struggling, our relationship system and the individuals within that system are affected. Therefore, spiritual counseling is well-suited to couples and families as well as individuals. 

6. What if I’m not a practicing Jew or don’t believe in God? 

If you have gotten to this question, you might have noticed that nowhere above is the “G” word mentioned. A key component of spiritual direction is God-wrestling – for Jews, that is the meaning of our tribal name – Israel. Every person of any tradition who has described themselves as “spiritual but not religious,” atheist, or agnostic is describing a relationship to a god-head, either through belief, non-belief or questioning it all. No specific belief system is a requirement for exploration of meaning. Property of the Jewish Healing Center of Los Angeles, Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. All rights reserved. 

7. Who administers spiritual counseling for the Jewish Healing Center of Los Angeles? 

At the Jewish Healing Center, all spiritual counseling is done by our founder and executive director Rabbi Carla Howard who has been doing spiritual counseling for twenty years. Her CV can be found on our website. 

8. Where does the Jewish Healing Center’s spiritual counseling take place? 

Most spiritual counseling sessions take place in an office in West Los Angeles, much like a traditional psychotherapy office, insuring privacy and confidentiality. If the need for spiritual counseling arises in conjunction with serious illness, hospitalization or end of life, those sessions are conducted where the person is – home, hospital or other facility. 

9. What is the cost? 

The Jewish Healing center’s fees of spiritual counseling are commensurate with those of traditional psychotherapy, on an hourly basis. Please check with our office for details. We offer a sliding scale for those in need, based on income.

10. Who should I contact if I’d like to try spiritual counseling?

For more information, directions, or to schedule an appointment, please call our office at (310) 277-1550 or email us at info@jchla.org.