Spiritual Counseling

SERVICES I OFFERSpiritual Counseling

Prayer of St. Gianna Beretta Molla, adapted by Gianna Elms, LCSW

Jesus, I promise You to surrender myself to all that You permit to befall me. My most sweet Jesus, infinitely merciful God, most tender Father of souls, and in a particular way of the most weak, most miserable, most infirm which You carry with special tenderness between Your divine arms, I come to You to ask You, through the love and merits of Your Sacred Heart, the grace to always accept and do Your holy will, the grace to confide in You, the grace to rest securely through time and eternity in Your loving divine arms. Amen.

a spiritual image of a woman standing on a jetty as the clouds open up and shine light from the heavens

Spiritual Counseling for Holy Living and the Treatment of Psychological Conflicts

It is very common to struggle with trust in God or to even have anger towards God because of deep psychological conflicts that have been left unattended.

The modern world is getting further and further away from the one and only true God, each, and every day, and spreading the lie that you can just pick and choose whatever religion that you want to follow, as if faith is like some sort of buffet. If you have found the Truth or, perhaps were even raised in the Catholic Church, you probably witnessed a lot of hypocrisy, and are seeing changes to the teachings in the Church that may make you question Truth even more. [1] Confusion doesn’t come from God; it comes from Satan. Yet, God allows it for our purification so that we can choose to respond to His grace and grow in love.

We have a responsibility, within our abilities and capabilities, to sort out what is true and to respond by cooperating with the graces that God gives us. Spiritual counseling seeks to guide a person in ways that bring him or her closer to living a holy lifestyle. In spiritual counseling you learn to surrender yourself to total trust in God so that, no matter what afflicts you, you can bring the pain before God and ask for the strength and courage to deal, in imitation of Christ, with what needs to be done in any moment. [2]

Many people find it difficult to make a total surrender to God because of unconscious conflicts.

Therefore, for all practical purposes, when I provide spiritual counseling, I use many of the same techniques that I use in psychotherapy to help you understand and overcome the fear that is an obstacle to the spiritual purgation necessary for living a holy lifestyle. The fundamental difference is that I also advise my clients to follow spiritual counsels, which include prayer, fasting, and a sincere study of the Catholic faith.

However, most people are not interested in what it means to do the hard work that many before us have done. You may be different. If you have any REAL interest in developing a desire to grow in love for God and, a healthy self-love, by integrating prayer, fasting, and a sincere study of the Catholic faith into your treatment, then you are free to read the spiritual counsels that were recommended to me, when I first studied under the tutelage of Raymond Lloyd Richmond, Ph.D.

Note, however, I do believe that his counsels are not ‘as much’ as what as what he used to advise, and his counsels are much less than what I did and what I did was far less than what the saints have done. Therefore, I do have some experience and ‘tips’ that can guide you, on your journey, which Dr. Richmond does not provide in a simple, straight-forward manner. Additionally, I am a follower of the basic or simple teachings of some of the most well-known saints, some of which Dr. Richmond cites on his website, some of which he does not.

If there is anything that you object, note the things to which you might object, and this will give you a clue as to the unconscious sins working under the surface of your conscious beliefs about yourself. All that has to be within you, is your desire to persevere and be willing to stop making excuses like, “my priest or my bishop doesn’t require it”. Growing in love is not about doing what is ‘required’. It’s about doing what is ‘good’ because it is ‘good’. Defining what is ‘good’ is not something that is arbitrarily defined by a matter of opinion, man’s law, or even Church law that has been changed over time to fit mine, someone else’s or even your hardness of heart (Mat. 19:8). God’s law does not change because God does not change.

You may wonder if you have to follow all of the spiritual counsels.

Well, no, you don’t have to do anything. But your treatment will take less time and cost you less money if you follow his advice, and if you don’t ‘fight’ God, me, and the ‘parts’ of you that actually want healing, every step of the way. Nothing in a Christian life is a challenge, although it can often feel like a ‘struggle’. Challenge is actually a word that you may want to consider avoiding because it is synonymous with ‘fight’ or the belief that you have to ‘prove’ yourself as being ‘worthy’. Moreover, Christ doesn’t require us to prove anything to Him or anyone else. Christ simply poses the question of love to all of us: Will you or won’t you?

Now, you may hear things from me, read things, or even experience things that help reveal truth as part of this process that a ‘part’ of you doesn’t want to know. This is known as transference and, in some cases, it is also known as resistance based upon how you choose to respond to the transference. As the saying goes, “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.” [3] A healthy way to look at the spiritual counsels and other psychological interventions that I provide is to view each of these as part of the larger ‘strategy’ that God has put in place to be sure that Satan doesn’t win his bet or his war on Love.


[1] Recommended reading. Richmond, R. (1997-2022). Why go to church? It’s just filled with hypocrites. Catholic Psychology in association with A Guide to Psychology and its Practice. Retrieved on February 4, 2023, from https://chastitysf.com/q_whychurch.htm

[2] Richmond, R. (1997-2023). Spiritual counsels to develop love for God. Catholic Psychology in association with A Guide to Psychology and its Practice. Retrieved on February 4, 2023, from https://chastitysf.com/treatreq.htm. Copyright © 1997-2023 by Raymond Lloyd Richmond, Ph.D. Reproduced and adapted with permission by Raymond Lloyd Richmond, Ph.D. The material is copyrighted and may not be reproduced by any means.

[3] The origin of this expression is unknown, yet one of the earliest cited examples includes St. Jerome’s “Letter to the Ephesians”, which was written in Latin in 400 A.D. Noli equi dentes inspicere donati. This translates to: “Never inspect the teeth of a given horse.” The general message, however, is clear, “Don’t be ungrateful when you receive a gift, even if it’s not exactly what you expected, or wanted. It could be exactly what you need.” This also supports the reason why Confession and psychoanalysis were traditionally done without the person “seeing” the priest or the analyst and ‘why’ I advise the use of telephone work when I conduct spiritual counseling with clients. You will have a greater sense of anonymity and ability to be more vulnerable and honest in our work together with telephone, spiritual counseling.

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