Exploring the Spiritual:
Pathways for Counselors and Psychotherapists

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To significantly impact clients’ spirituality and use the spiritual strengths the client possesses to facilitate their move toward health, a counselor must be willing to explore his or her own spiritual development.
Exploring the Spiritual
Paths for Counselors and Therapists

provides cognitive information grounded in the empirical findings of social science, as well as experiential material which encourages the counselors’ own spiritual quest. This invaluable source clarifies the interface between the counselor’s spirituality and the client’s, and allows the spiritual dimension to emerge appropriately in the counseling process.

This book provides challenging questions and exercises that lead counselors, physchotherapists, or other spiritual seekers through a personal exploration to attain the maturity of development needed to facilitate the client’s spiritual growth. The text, written in an accessible narrative style, features helpful case studies and personal anecdotes to illustrate the concepts and processes described.

Each chapter includes an overview of an issue, develops an argument or position, and presents a focused exploration of some relevant empirical research that is presented in a context that helps the reader see its personal implications. The final section leads readers through exercises and experiments, helping them to focus on counselor's or seeker's own inner experience or encouraging them to experiment with new behaviors. This insightful resource encourages counselors to work directly with their client’s spiritual experiences and conceptualizations without imposing on the clients the beliefs of the counselor.


  • models of spiritual development
  • steps toward spiritual maturation
  • the contribution of crises in the development of ones beliefs and ones values
  • the physical-emotional self, and the contribution of passion and sexuality
  • overcoming the divisiveness of age, race, gender, sexual orientation, and culture
  • coping with suffering
  • discovering one’s own paths to the spiritual.

EXPLORING THE SPIRITUAL is a valuable resource for counselors, psychotherapists, counselor educators, and graduate students in psychology, counseling, psychotherapy, social work, and psychiatry. It is also a helpful tool for persons longing to develop a more mature spirtuality.

Publication Date: June 6, 2008
Note that Barnes & Noble offers pre-publication discounts (see above)

Retail price: softcover $59.95 ISBN 978-0-7890-3673-5
hardcover $89.95 ISBN 978-0-7890-3672-8
Pages: 474
LC# 2007046185
Categories: Religion, Pastoral Care, Ministry & Spirituality, Psychotherapy, Mental Health, Psychology & Psychiatry.

Table of Contents:

Introduction: Spirituality and the Counselor’s Connection with the Client

Part I: Assessing Spiritual Health and Development
Chapter 1: What is Healthy Spirituality?
Chapter 2: Models of Spiritual Development

Part II: Areas of Crisis
Chapter 3: The Crisis in Values
Chapter 4: The Crisis in Belief: Science, Spirituality and Authority
Chapter 5: The Body, Passion, and Spirituality
Chapter 6: Spiritual Implications of Sexual Orientation
Chapter 7: Overcoming Barriers, Dealing with Differences
Chapter 8: Why So Much Suffering?

Part III: Helping and Healing
Chapter 9: Staying with Process
Chapter 10: Continuing the Spiritual Journey:
Reaching for a Spirit-Filled Life

Part IV: Experiential Approaches
Chapter 11: Centering the Self
Chapter 12: Focusing on Others
Chapter 13: Seeking the Spiritual Dimension

Appendix: Additional Resources

Professional Reviews of Exploring the Spiritual:

David Matteson brings together his years of diverse counseling experience with a seriously grounded personal and professional spirituality to produce this well-researched yet readable book. Professional counselors and those training to be professionals will find Matteson's insights useful and informative. Matteson provides a helpful summary of spiritual development, a sensitive coverage of cross-cultural issues in counseling, a conciliatory approach to the integration of science and spirituality, a response to Job's timeless questions about personal suffering, and a valuable chapter on how the professional counselor can deal with individual differences. Matteson is particularly informative to the practicing counselor in discussing his special interest in the spiritual implications of different sexual orientations. Without being judgmental or prescriptive, this former preacher teaches us all essential lessons of counseling in the spiritual dimension with persons of varying religious and personal preferences. In the final section of the book Matteson offers a road map--but not a destination--to those on the journey of spiritual seeking.

George Banziger, Ph.D., Social Psychologist,
Dean of Mathematics, Science and Technology
Lewis and Clark Community College

An important book that allows the reader to understand that healthy spirituality is possible. Dr. Matteson shows exceptional scholarship as he blends many psychological and spiritual traditions.  The book provides guidance for dealing with crises and step-by-step experiential strategies to grow spiritually. Students and professionals alike will find this book a treasure that will be referred to often.

Jon Carlson, Psy.D, EdD, Distinguished Professor
Psychology & Counseling, Governors State University
Co-Author, Moved By The Spirit

This unique and important book provides both trainees and experienced therapists the opportunity to increase both their spiritual sensitivity and spiritual development.... Highly recommended.

Len Sperry, M.D., Ph.D., EdD, Author, Spirituality and Clinical Practice and Co-Editor, Spritually-Oriented Psychotherapy.

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