An Exploration of the Relationship between Spirituality and Social Justice Work of Counselors and Counselor Educators

by Gunnells, Tiffany Ayn

Abstract (Summary)
The counseling profession recognizes spirituality as a focus of research, education, and practice (Miranti and Burke, 1998). Recently, social justice has been defined as the Fifth Force within the counseling profession (Ratts, D'Andrea, and Arredondo, 2005). The purpose of this study is to examine the role of spirituality in the social justice work of counselors and counselor educators. This study has been informed by literature from a variety of areas: (a) descriptions of spirituality with similarities and distinctions from religion, (b) spirituality in counseling, (c) multicultural issues within counseling, (d) social justice in counseling, (e) intersection of social justice and religion in history, (f) contemporary intersections of social justice and religion, (g) role of spirituality in female adult educators involved with social action education, and (h) egotranscendence in leadership. The following research questions informed this research: 1. What is the intersection between spirituality and social justice in the work and lives of counselors and counselor educators? 2. How do participants describe/make meaning of spirituality? 3. How do participants describe/make meaning of social justice? A qualitative methodology framed through a phenomenological inquiry was employed to explore in greater depth the meanings and experiences of spirituality for counseling professionals involved in social justice activities. A combination of a structured demographic questionnaire and semi-structured interviews was used to gather data.Sampling was done through purposive and snowball sampling from Counselors for Social Justice and the Association for Spiritual, Ethical, and Religious Values in Counseling,divisions within the American Counseling Association. The use of multiple sources increased the credibility and trustworthiness of the data. Results elicited five major themes: Connections, Relationship and Kinships,Meaning: Frameworks for Living/"Beingness", Transformation and Evolution, and Challenges. The majority of co-researchers shared that spirituality is intertwined with all they do and for some it informs their social justice work. Others found their spirituality was not a necessary prerequisite for social justice work. The descriptions of spirituality and social justice varied for each co-researcher. Implications for counseling practice,counselor education pedagogy, supervision, and outreach will be presented.
Bibliographical Information:


School:Ohio University

School Location:USA - Ohio

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:spirituality social justice counselor educator qualitative phenomenology


Date of Publication:01/01/2008

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