6. Spiritual Experience and Counselling

Environmental Spirituality and Wellbeing - Integrating Social and Therapeutic Theory and Practice - Jeff Leonardi

William West [+-]
University of Chester
William West is a Visiting Professor in Counselling and Spirituality at the University of Chester where he supervises a number of PhD and doctorate students who share his interests in spirituality, faith, diversity and culture. William is a Fellow of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. His most recent book, (2021) co-edited with Greg Nolan, is Extending horizons in helping and caring therapies.


For many people spiritual experiences are very positive, often life changing. However, they can have a down side especially when mental health issues are involved. Many people in the health and therapy world still have polarized views – seeing such experiences as always either healthy or crazy. It is much better to view such experiences through the lens of ‘what does this do for this person’ and ‘what support might they need?’ In other words to put the experience into the context of the client, their life and their needs. Given that over half of us in Britain have such experiences from time to time we deserve a more a nuanced approach Britain and many parts of the West could well be viewed as post Christian. Church attendance is at an old time low. This does not reduce spiritual experiences but it does mean that many people struggling with such experiences would not seek religious help. This may not be a bad thing given the history of religion and its support for people struggling with spiritual experience. However, it does mean that the support offered by secular therapists will vary in its acceptance, knowledge and valuing of such experiences.

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West, William. 6. Spiritual Experience and Counselling. Environmental Spirituality and Wellbeing - Integrating Social and Therapeutic Theory and Practice. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. Jun 2025. ISBN 9781800505841. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=45136. Date accessed: 21 Jul 2024 doi: 10.1558/equinox.45136. Jun 2025

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