David Efken, M.A., LCPC

Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor

Professional counselors do their best to deeply understand their clients as comprehensively as possible to provide hope, health and healing. Human beings are not just their mind and body. A comprehensive and holistic understanding of an individual human being includes her/his unique Emotional, Physical, Mental and Spiritual components. To the degree that the spiritual component is neglected in providing mental health services, the client is underserved. Sadly, the spiritual component is too frequently minimized, or completely neglected, in providing mental health care to clients.

Spirituality is a complex and multidimensional part of being a human being. It has cognitive, experiential, and behavioral aspects. The Cognitive (or philosophical) aspect includes the Search for Meaning and Purpose and the beliefs and values by which an individual lives. The Experiential and Emotional aspects include feelings of hope, love, inner peace, comfort and support. This includes the ability to give and receive love and a person’s relationships and connections with self, others, the larger society, the natural environment, and the transcendent. The Behavioral aspect involves how a person externally manifests individual spiritual beliefs and inner spiritual states. This may – or may not – include formal religion.

Hope is a crucial component of mental health and wellness, no matter what a person’s specific presenting issue for seeking professional counseling may be. The H.O.P.E. Questionnaire for Spiritual Assessment is an excellent tool to identify sources of hope, and if – and how – spirituality is a component of hope. It can easily be used not only by mental health counselors but by all individuals.

H: Sources of Hope, meaning, comfort, strength, peace, love, connection, and support
O: Organized religion
P: Personal spirituality and Practices
E: Effects on a person’s functioning in life and if s/he would like this to be included in therapy

Questions for the HOPE Approach to Spiritual Assessment
H: Sources of Hope, meaning, comfort, strength, peace, love, connection, and support

• What is there in your life that gives you internal support?
• What are your sources of Hope, Strength, Comfort, and Peace?
• What do you hold on to during difficult times?
• What sustains you and keeps you going?
• For some people, their religious or spiritual beliefs act as a source of comfort and strength in dealing with life’s ups and downs; is this true for you?
– If the answer is “Yes,” go to O and P questions.
– If the answer is “No,” Were they ever?
o If the answer is “Yes,” What changed?

O: Organized Religion

• Do you consider yourself part of an organized religion?
• How important is this to you?
• What about this is important?
• What aspects of your religion are helpful – and not so helpful – to you?
• Are you part of a religious or spiritual community?
– Does it help you?
– How?

P: Personal Spirituality / Practices

• Do you have personal spiritual beliefs that are independent of organized religion?
– What are they?
• Do you believe in God?
– What kind of relationship do you have with God?
• What aspects of your spirituality or spiritual practices do you find most helpful to you personally? (e.g. prayer, meditation, yoga, art, reading Scripture, attending religious services, listening to or playing music, hiking, communing with nature?)

E: Effects on a person’s functioning in life and if s/he would like this to be included in therapy

• Would you like to have your spiritual beliefs included in therapy?
• Have your current challenges affected your ability to do the things that usually help you
• Have your current challenges affected your relationship with God or your spiritual beliefs?
• Is there anything the counselor can do to assist you to access the resources that usually help you?

Identifying, reflecting on, and accessing one’s personal spiritual beliefs and practices can make a significant contribution to a person’s sense of hope, wellbeing, and overall mental health. The H.O.P.E. Questionnaire is an excellent resource to aid in this process and can be used by anyone – not just mental health counselors.