Circle of Meaning: Exploring Spirituality

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There is a growing body of research in the addiction treatment field supporting the “practical wisdom” and personal experience of recovering people and addiction counselors which confirms that spirituality is an essential part of the recovery process. (O,Connell, 1999, p. 5). For years the spiritual component of the recovery process has largely fallen under the auspices of Alcoholics Anonymous and treatment programs based on the principles of AA. More recently, there has been a growing body of literature focusing on efforts to integrate a spiritually sensitive focus into counseling, (Richards and Bergin, 1997) social work practice (Canda and Furman, 1999), and psychotherapy (Miller, 1999; Griffith and Griffith, 2002) inclusive of, but not limited to the principles and practices of the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, that encompass and honor the diversity of ways people express and make meaning of their spirituality. This article provides the reader with a conceptual framework for the Circle of Meaning; a narrative tool developed by this author to help people explore their spiritual lives. This article also provides addiction counselors, psychotherapists, and other clinicians ways to use the Circle of Meaning to help them focus their conversations with clients about their spiritual lives in a respectful and culturally sensitive way that honors and celebrates the diversity and complexity of peoples’ own meanings, intentions, values and commitments in recovery and in life. . .

Click Circle of Meaning to read the original article which was published in the June, 2005 edition of Counselor: The Magazine for Addiction Professionals. Reprinted here with permission of the author, Patricia A Burke.

One thought on “Circle of Meaning: Exploring Spirituality

  1. Peggy Williams

    I liked the article. I am studying to be an interfaith chaplain. I work with women in jail getting ready to re-enter the community. I believe that discussing spiritual issues in a respectful and culturally sensitive way that honors and celebrates the diversity of each person is an essential component towards recovery. The goal of the counselor/therapist is to listen for themes and ask questions that will help clients expand upon their own meanings.


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