CAREER DEVELOPMENT / NOV. 14, 2014
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How to Become a Spiritual Counselor in the US

Many people around the world subscribe to the teachings of a certain religion. Spiritual counselors believe there is a relationship between the spiritual beliefs and mental well-being of an individual. They not only lead their clients to spiritual growth, but also help them find a life purpose. If you are a good listener who is prepared to pursue a graduate level degree, you could pursue a successful career in spiritual counseling.

What Do Spiritual Counselors Do?

Apart from leading clients to spiritual nourishment, what else do spiritual counselors do? They:

  • Use the appropriate scriptural reference to help people understand some of their problems, such as infertility
  • Help people resolve spiritual crises. For example, they can help a Christian who is looking to convert to Islam make an informed decision based on his or her beliefs
  • Counsel clients in individual or group settings on range of contemporary issues and topics
  • Conduct research to gather more information on controversial issues, such as the conflict between Christianity and Islam
  • Refer clients in need of prayer to pastoral counselors

Work Environment

Self-employed spiritual counselors have irregular work schedules. They can attend to clients during the day, late in the evening or over the weekend. On the other hand, those in formal employment usually work from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

Although many counselors have private offices, others spend their time in houses of worship such as churches, mosques, temples and synagogues.

Salary

Since spiritual counselors are mainly self-employed, their annual income varies with factors such as location, experience and level of education. However, you can expect to earn an average of at least:

Occupation

Average Annual Salary

Spiritual Counselors

$41,000

Source: Indeed

Education and Licensing

Even before setting your foot in a university, you must be a very spiritual person with a solid religious foundation. You can then pursue a bachelor’s degree in a subject such as:

  • Psychology
  • Counselling
  • Social work
  • Theology
  • Religious studies

It takes vast knowledge to break into this profession. As such, the next step is to pursue a master’s degree in spiritual counseling. Some of the institutions that offer this credential include:

  • Institute of Metaphysical Humanistic Science, Florida
  • Loyola University of Chicago, Chicago

If you wish to practice denominational counseling, you can also pursue a graduate degree in Christian counseling or Islamic counseling.

Several states regulate the practice of counselors. So the final step is to inquire from your state’s relevant licensing board and determine its requirements. Generally, you can expect to show evidence of an accredited degree and undertake a licensing examination.

Important Qualities

Beyond the education, what else do you need to be a competent spiritual counselor?

  • Excellent active listening and speaking skills
  • A deep understanding of various religions
  • Strong interpersonal skills to relate well with clients from diverse religious backgrounds
  • Good problem-solving skills
  • The ability to critically analyze information
  • An open-minded and sensitive approach to dealing with clients

Career Development

Well-educated and experienced spiritual counselors often progress to establish their own counseling centers. To increase your chances of reaching such heights you should:

Job opportunities

As a qualified spiritual counselor you can venture into self-employment or be hired by:

  • Houses of worship
  • Counseling centers
  • Hospice care centers
  • Detention centers
  • Psychiatric hospitals
  • Social and human service organizations

With a doctoral degree, you can find teaching jobs in colleges, universities and professional schools. Research organizations, such as the Spiritual Research Science Foundation, also routinely hire PhD holders to work as senior researchers.

Conclusively, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 29 percent for all mental health counselors, including those in the spiritual field from 2012 through 2022. Although this is a promising growth rate, don’t expect to walk straight into a job with a bachelor’s degree. Success in this profession belongs to the highly educated.

However, if you have a passion for helping people and are a deeply spiritual person then this may be the right career for you.


Image: iStock

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