Intellectual humility, spirituality, and counselling

Emma C. Gordon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although therapists often work with clients with whom they share a great many beliefs, there remain many cases where the therapist and client have very little in common. Spirituality is, especially in the latter kind of case, one specific area in which clashes and similarities may be important. However, recent evidence suggests spirituality is to a surprising extent ignored in therapy when exploring it would be therapeutically relevant and, even more, that counsellors often struggle when training to more effectively engage with client spirituality. These results are problematic, especially when taken together. In this article, I attempt to address this vexing issue in a way that brings together work on counselling and spirituality with recent discussions of intellectual virtue in contemporary epistemology. In particular, I show why it is important for the therapist to cultivate and maintain the virtue of intellectual humility with respect to spirituality in a counselling context. To this end, I explore, with reference to a particularly promising model of intellectual humility, how the therapist can be attentive to—and own—their limitations in a productive way when dealing with a wide range of spiritual backgrounds.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)279-291
JournalJournal of Psychology and Theology
Issue number4
Early online date11 Nov 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018


  • virtues
  • moral development
  • philosophical integration

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