Navigating Religion in Therapy

December 13, 2023

In therapy for teens involving religion, it’s important to create a respectful and open space where they can freely discuss their beliefs. By maintaining ethical boundaries, addressing conflicts collaboratively, and promoting a non-judgmental atmosphere, our therapists play a pivotal role in supporting the intricate interplay between religion and mental health in adolescents. Continue reading to discover insights from some of our clinicians!

Wedad Omer, Resident in Counseling

Being a Muslim-American was not always easy growing up. However, my experiences have helped me navigate the topic of religion in therapy with teens in a way that fosters understanding and respect.

I recognize the significance of religious identity in shaping one’s worldview and sense of self. This insight allows me to create a safe space where teens can freely discuss their beliefs, values, and any challenges they encounter due to their faith. By acknowledging their experiences and offering a culturally sensitive perspective, I aim to support their emotional well-being while assisting them in reconciling the various aspects of their identity.

Ultimately, my journey as a Muslim-American enriches my therapeutic approach, helping me empower these teens to embrace their faith while addressing their mental health needs.

Deedra Everett, Supervisee in Clinical Social Work

While working with teens, navigating the subject of religion requires sensitivity and a delicate touch. It is so important to communicate genuine respect for different beliefs. As therapists, we must create a non-judgmental space where teens can feel comfortable discussing the impact of their faith and how they may potentially draw strength from it. Supporting teens may also require recognizing the potential conflict between religious values and a teen’s identity. It is critical to encourage open dialogue in which teens can explore their own perspectives with their developing identity.

Lydia Hatcher, Resident in Counseling

Teens often are introduced to religion by their parents, who normally have clearly defined beliefs that they want to pass down to their children. Teens usually explore religion from their parents’ perspective, before developing their own ideas, understandings, and beliefs.

Working with teens who are trying to understand and navigate religion requires a respectful and neutral space where perspective-taking is a primary skill. Religion is one of those topics that generates very strong beliefs. When working with a teen where religion is the main struggle, respecting the talking space is important to try to understand what it is that is creating the difficulty for the teen. I work hard to seek help from the teen to educate me on the principles, priorities, and problems they most identify with. Also, understanding a family’s religious values may require discussions with the parent(s) to understand more about the practices of the specific religion so I can help as the teen finds their own answers. I explore where the issues with religion may be impacting other areas of the teen’s life, that may need to be addressed during sessions.

If you or your teen are interested in learning more about the therapeutic world, reach out to us today!

Until next time, Be Wise!