In today’s complex world, many people find themselves in need of spiritual comfort and support for managing major life issues. In addition to pastors, ministers, and priests, they often need additional resources to air their concerns and difficulties and to brainstorm for ethical solutions. It is here that spiritual counselors can offer practical advice and a system of support, free of judgments and with complete confidentiality. To do this, however, requires a great deal of skill in understanding human psychology and spiritual needs. Aptitude in listening, communication, empathy, and persuasive techniques can help clients find their way to understanding and growth in their spiritual lives.
Assess your strengths. Do an in-depth review of your training and knowledge of religious history, practices, and rituals. If you need additional training in behavior modification or counseling techniques, take classes at your local community college or university. Religious schools near where you live may offer classes in some of these areas. Certification in spiritual counseling by the American Institute of Healthcare Providers is available for those who go through formal training, often available online, or by those who have completed related subject areas.
Decide on your market niche. If you choose to work in a particular religion, make sure your knowledge of that religion is in-depth and comprehensive. Knowing the precepts will instill confidence in your abilities to counsel others. If you intend to have a more ecumenical approach, assisting practitioners of many religions, you will need at least a working knowledge of the principles of many religious viewpoints and their application in daily life situations. Some spiritual counselors offer services by phone or over the Internet for daily help. Consider if this type of service would be right for you or if you prefer to use a face-to-face counseling experience.
Set up your place of business. A quiet area of your home can be set aside for counseling. Make sure the area is decorated in a serious, contemplative manner with no distractions from the counseling tasks at hand.
Decide how clients will pay for your services and set up invoicing and payment systems. A user-friendly computer accounting program is the easiest way to keep track of expenses and payments. A simple publishing program for brochures, business cards, and advertising materials is also useful.
Target your advertising. Carefully consider how to reach your client base. Churches and religious schools may be willing to refer members of the congregation. Place ads in religious publications in your area. Let doctors and psychologists know your services are available for their clients.
Keep good records and pay taxes on time. Running a business successfully requires organization and careful attention to paperwork details.
Provide set scheduling for counseling sessions, but also allow for emergency contact outside of that schedule.
When you encounter issues beyond your expertise, be prepared to refer to other health and mental health professionals.
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