There are many types of spiritual counselors, from therapists who specialize in helping clients with addiction and depression, to spiritual counselors who offer emotional support.
But where to find them can be challenging.
In Ontario, the province that has the highest number of people in crisis, there are few choices for spiritual counselors.
But a group of residents who live in a nearby community called Woodland Spiritual Counseling has found one that’s affordable and offers an option that’s convenient for many of its residents.
“There are so many different types of psychotherapists out there and it’s difficult for people to find a therapist who is actually a spiritual counselor,” said Rosemary Czeprzyk, a senior counsellor at Woodland.
“You’re kind of going to have to do a lot of searching.”
One of the most common questions that people ask is where to go to find spiritual counseling.
In Canada, there’s a national network of Spiritual Counselors of Canada, or SCC.
They also have offices in several other countries, including New Zealand, South Africa and Australia.
But Woodland is the first in Canada to offer a spiritual counseling service, Czepsk said.
It’s a niche that doesn’t have a lot in common with traditional psychotherapy, where patients are typically asked to talk about their deepest fears, anxiety and spiritual problems.
“If someone has an issue that is so complex that it is very difficult to talk with someone, it’s really helpful to have someone who’s trained in that,” Czephysk said, adding that it’s easier to talk to someone in a community setting.
The Woodland community has been a good fit for the service.
The group has about 40 members, who work in different roles: counselor, spiritual adviser, spiritual mentor, family member or friend.
The members also learn a lot about the spiritual and emotional needs of people who live on the Woodland property.
They’re also able to help residents cope with their spiritual challenges.
For instance, CZepsk helped a woman who was struggling with suicidal thoughts after the suicide of her husband, and a young woman who had a history of depression.
“She just kind of had to go back and look at her life, because she was in so much pain,” Czesnyk said of the young woman.
The women’s therapist, Carol McLean, also knows a lot more about the clients she works with than the therapists in the community.
She says the service helps people “get to know them a little better and to help them sort of understand that we care and we’re there for them.”
But Czexysk admits that there’s one area where she would like to see more spiritual counseling offered in Ontario.
She believes that the community should have a greater role in choosing spiritual counselors and have a role in helping them with their counselling needs.
“It’s really important for them to have some say in where they go to get their spiritual guidance,” Cczepsk added.
The community has also been very supportive, said McLean. “
We’re not talking about a whole-body spiritual practice, we’re talking about something that’s a part of the life, a part that they’re able to engage in in their daily lives.”
The community has also been very supportive, said McLean.
She said that Woodland offers a spiritual orientation session on Wednesdays, so that residents can feel comfortable coming to the service, and that they can also get an overview of the resources available to the community, like the website.
McLean said that the staff members are very welcoming and respectful, and are willing to talk on a number of different topics, including the importance of self-care and self-expression.
She also says that the group’s services are free, which makes it a good place for people who are not well-off to come.
“There’s a lot that we can do together, and we can provide a good, safe place for them,” she said.