Whether you or a loved one are going through a rough season, or if you're curious about what Christian counseling is because you don't know what to expect, this article is for you. Many people require counseling each year, and Christian counseling is one possible way to seek help. There are many things you can expect from Christian counseling, and we'll look at those in this article. However, before we get into what you can expect, let's take a look at what Christian counseling is.
WHAT IS CHRISTIAN COUNSELING?
Conventional counselors use several services to help a person or persons to reach emotional, mental, and even physiological wellbeing. They offer services like guidance and support, help with settling, reaching and achieving goals, and resolving conflicts. Counselors also share insight and help build understanding and interpersonal skills.
During therapy sessions, counselors first establish a rapport with the client(s), looking for a sense of where a person is in their life, why they requested counseling services, and what they want out of their sessions. They also might probe into the past to understand trauma or other emotionally impactful experiences. They might examine behavior patterns or explore potential physical and chemical imbalances that can cause physiological problems and how that relates to the current issue. Another major part of counseling is resolving and conflicts between people and restoring well-being.
So, what is Christian counseling like, and what can one expect? Much like “secular” counseling, the aim of Christian counseling is to aid individuals in their journey to find purpose in life, overcome personal problems, and become mentally and emotionally healthy. The primary difference is that Christian counseling does this from a Christocentric outlook and seeks to treat the mind, the body, and the spirit.
IS THERE A NEED FOR CHRISTIAN COUNSELING?
While it is critical for a person to deal with emotional, mental, and physiological discrepancies in one's life, secular counseling misses one crucial area of a persons' being--their spiritual health. Christian counseling covers the same critical areas of a person, the mind and body, but also deal with their spiritual dimension. Christian counseling uses the Bible and faith as tools and resources in aiding a person’s therapy process, and it is oriented towards a Higher Power and purpose.
This means that counselors will look beyond the physiological, mental, and emotional realms and into the moral character of a person. That is not often the focus in conventional therapy. For example, a person might need practical skill development to deal with coping impulses to mismanage money, but the counselor discovers this action also impacts a person’s spiritual identity and creates a cycle of repeating the behavior. Secular counseling is performed, however, without regard for spiritual or biblical truth, and looks at only the mind and the body. Christian counseling marries the best in conventional therapy with Christian purpose and focuses on holistic healing of body, mind, and spirit.
10 THINGS TO EXPECT FROM CHRISTIAN COUNSELING
Now that you know what Christian Counseling is, here are 10 things to expect from Christian counseling.
1. BIBLICAL COUNSELING
Christian counselors seek to help uncover those areas in a client's life that may be inconsistent or go against the principles and commands of Scripture. They help them learn how to submit enthusiastically to God's will. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." A Christian counseling session combines the latest psychological findings with Scripture and biblical truth, whereas a secular counselor would instead only use psychological methods or societal norms as a barometer.
2. PRACTICAL COUNSELING
Abet understandable, some might believe Christian counseling to be only spiritual and Biblical counsel; while biblical counsel is foundational, counselors in any capacity are required to have a state licensure to practice. Most are required to have a master's degree in counseling and at least two years of clinical counseling experience. Just because a counselor is a Christian counselor does not mean quality is sacrificed or diluted. It is simply coupled with biblical resources and spiritual guidance. One does not simply ignore or throw out techniques learned and skills gained from schooling and practice. Expect spiritual guidance and practical application strategies.
3. PERSONAL CARE
While professionalism is very important and confidentiality is key in counseling, care for one's soul and wellbeing is paramount for progress. Knowing your wellness matters more than pay makes a huge difference. Beyond a Christian counselor's desire to practice their profession, their faith compels them to go above and beyond. Galatians 6:2 says “Carry each other's burdens, in this way you fulfill the law of Christ." So you can feel confident that your counselor is dedicated to helping you overcome any obstacles you are facing.
4. WISDOM AND INSIGHT
Many people attend counseling to achieve a goal or improve their emotional and mental health, often after realizing that trying alone leads one to relapse or stagnation. You can expect to receive both practical knowledge and spiritual insight. Proverbs 15:22 says “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.” An insightful counselor can point out behaviors and patterns in a person's life they would miss on their own and guide them out of negative cycles into well-balanced relationships and experiences.
5. SPIRITUAL REALIGNMENT
Much like the way a chiropractor can adjust the vertebras of the spine, a Christian counselor can realign your 'spiritual spine' with their practice and faith-based approach. While we might try our best to keep our lives in balance, having a regular spiritual adjustment keeps us accountable, clear in focus, and better able to live by faith. You can expect to be stretched, pulled, and carefully realigned using the best of modern psychology paired with faith.
6. BIBLICAL INTERPRETATION
Often, we erroneously look first to taking a pill or trying a new exercise to fix an issue of the soul. Worse yet, we might unconsciously develop negative habits or behavioral patterns to cope with issues without understanding our spiritual health and how it can impact other areas of our life. Rather than viewing the spirit as something unfathomable or mystical, you can expect to learn about your spiritual health and wellbeing as much as your mind and emotions. Much like learning how to diet and exercise for physical health or manage money for fiscal health, expect to learn how to manage spiritual health.
7. JUXTAPOSITION OF NATURAL AND SPIRITUAL
While you might not find words such as “codependency,” “schizophrenia,” “addiction,” or “passive aggressive” in the Bible, there are many scriptures that highlight and describe the non-material parts of a person. The best part? These are not nonexclusive, either. Terms of classification, like “personality type” for example, can be coupled with “spiritual gifts” to help one more fully understand their strengths and shortcomings in their personal life, relationships, and ministry and to lead more fulfilling lives. You can expect to learn how to join the mind, body, and spirit through the Word and sessions.
If you ask any Christian, they will tell you prayer is a pivotal part of their ministry, their life, and their relationship with God. Clients are generally unable to pray with their counselors; however, clients can opt to pray together during sessions about the issues addressed within them. While this is not mandatory, it can be a welcoming option for some.
9. TEACHING NEW SKILLS
Counselors may identify a client's deficiency or lack of certain life skills as a root cause of certain issues or reoccurring conflicts. Examples of these skills are conflict resolution skills, interpersonal and communication skills, emotional awareness, etc. These skills are important in the management of their mental and emotional health and spill over into relationships, behaviors, and other areas of life. They affect your walk with God. Counselors may teach their clients new skills to help them overcome the problems that bring them to counseling.
10. REAL HOPE
Rather than the current world being the end of it all, the hope of the Christian is of an eternity with Christ. This means that their perspective shifts from the material and temporary to the nonphysical and eternal. You hope to find purpose in the pain and tumult life doles out, joy in the suffering, and assurance that it is and will be overcome. You will find deep healing from personal wounds, emotional scars, and spiritual damage. Christian counseling reaches beyond fixing broken behaviors and points clients to Christ, who fixes broken people and a world full of them. Psalms 34:18
Now that you have a better idea of what to expect from a Christian counseling session, you may be ready to take the next step. Here are a few options we suggest. You can locate a practice nearest you by using web resources to see reviews about counselors near you. Websites like the Christian Counselor Directory and Thumbtack can help narrow your search. You can also check with your pastor, or someone in your family or church, to see if they can recommend a trustworthy counselor.