Spiritual Assessments

Spiritual Assessments

If the only tool in your toolbox is a hammer,
every problem will look like a nail.
~Asian Proverb

Prior to this year, I hadn't done a single spiritual assessment. Previously, I had only been doing what I know now to be just a basic spiritual screening. In fact, other than basic topics of afterlife and perhaps the Rainbow Bridge, I generally didn't ask about faith or openly discuss religion. My thinking was while it might help one client it might be offensive to another. As a matter of fact, this turns out to be completely true. As one of my members commented to me: 

"Part of the reason I haven't been to the sessions is that they often (but not always) seem to take a spiritual approach to coping with death, and that's something I haven't been able to relate to for decades.

There isn't much I can say to someone who is talking about being reunited with their companions after death as that's not an expectation I have, which in some ways I think makes grieving more difficult."

For all the good that I provided some members, at the same time this member felt uncomfortable and ostracized because of the heavy Christian religious references and conversation that we were having that day. 

One of my lessons from this encounter was to have a better method of screening and assessing my client's religious and spiritual needs. To do this, I'm going to start asking basic spiritual questions as part of my standard intake process. I'm not going to call it a spiritual assessment though. I'm basically looking for their beliefs, their history and upbringing with religion, how important it is to them, if they would take offense to talking about spirituality and the afterlife, if they are in moral/spiritual distress or struggle, and if they have any immediate pressing spiritual needs. If they are, I can then setup a time to chat privately with them to create a spiritual care treatment plan. 

However, for the time being, I have begun to talk more openly about spiritual matters anyway and to allow for a more open discussion of them in my online groups. I still believe it is a very necessary and comforting thing to do. My possible solution is just to properly assess and distribute them into like-minded groups based on some basic core beliefs, or perhaps to blatantly ask if that is something that would offend. As we grow in membership, this will become easier to do.

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