Naturalism, Theism, Values, Psychotherapy, Worldviews


The codes of ethics guiding the work of counselors and psychotherapists state that ethical practitioners pursue training in areas where they are at risk of imposing values. While training in the potential imposition of personal values is pervasive, training in the potential imposition of professional values is rare. Naturalism, the guiding worldview of science and psychology excludes theism, which is the guiding worldview of many people. Consequently, naturalism is a professional value that may be imposed on theistic clients in psychotherapy. The exclusion of theism from psychology and psychotherapy along with the naturalization of theistic experiences and concepts and the omission of theism from theistic theories that are imported into psychotherapy demonstrate how great the risk of imposing the professional value of naturalism in psychotherapy is. In light of that risk and given the lack of training in this area of need, several forms of theism that fall on a continuum from weak to strong theism are briefly reviewed as an initial step in educating counselors and psychotherapists about this important aspect of many clients. Also, to encourage careful and critical reflection, some of the challenges that accompany the common ways in which counselors and psychotherapists might include theism in their therapy is provided. Specific points of emphasis for therapists who are members of the church and work with theistic clients who are members of the church are addressed in the conclusion.