I get requests from patients to refer to a Christian Counselor or various religious orientated Counselors at times. As the most important part of counseling is the therapeutic relationship or “clickiness” between the patient and the counselor, Doctor or Therapist, I think it’s good to have these options for patients.
At times, in the right context, I do try to explain to patients that what we are trying to achieve fundamentally through counseling, is to be grounded in the observing mind to observe our thoughts and feelings rather than self identified as our thoughts and feelings. This is “self as context” as opposed to “self as content”.
One can say that there are a lot of similarities between “self as context” as described in Acceptance Commitment Therapy ACT, and enlightenment in Buddhism, and spiritualism in other forms of religion.
We try to use whatever language that resonates with the patient and whatever works better for the patient.
What about prayers. Does prayer helps?
I think it can be very important.
I often use the metaphor that the feeling mind is like your autopilot. The thinking mind is like the pilot. The problem is, the pilot and autopilot have lost contact with Houston ground control or flight control.
In this example, Houston or flight control is the observing mind.
Prayers, talking to a trusted other, counselor, friend, colleague etc. is trying to reach out to Houston in some ways.
Over time, we can learn to be our own “Houston” metaphorically speaking.
The right destination requires a good working autopilot, pilot to override autopilot when required, and flight control away from the cockpit to have more clarity.