Teach, But Don’t Preach: Practical Guidelines for Addressing Spiritual Concerns of Students.

Guidelines based on the American School Counselor Association’s ethical codes and various social studies teaching techniques are presented for school counselors to use as they address the spiritual concerns of students. The role of the First Amendment in “spiritual” counseling in public schools and various multicultural considerations are explored as well. This article explores the practical challenges of counseling students with spiritual issues. To do so, I draw upon the American School Counselor Association’s (ASCA, 1998) Ethical Standards for School Counselors and certain teaching suggestions from the social science and history disciplines. Even though I use the terms spirituality and religion throughout the article, they are not interchangeable concepts. In my view, spirituality in a general sense refers to “making sense of” and “giving meaning to the world,” and how meaning is made; this process is different for each person. While spirituality might incorporate formal religious beliefs, it does not necessarily have to. When dealing with the spirituality of students, school counselors have to know the difference between teaching and preaching. As defined by Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary (2003), teaching includes imparting knowledge and providing instruction. Preaching can be defined as follows: to urge the acceptance or advocate for an idea or a course of action.

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