When approaching a point in life that is chaotic enough, painful enough, or overwhelming enough to seek counseling, it may seem far too daunting to make a search in general, let alone searching for help from someone in the area of Christian spiritual growth. If you were to search on the internet for a therapist that meets the criteria of a Christian counselor in a well populated city, at least three prospects would probably pop up. This most likely means that these counselors or agencies are advertising as Christian counselors. That’s great! Right? Wait a second, what differentiates a regular counselor from a Christian one? Are they a Christian counselor because they have a Jesus fish bumper sticker on their car? Is it because they go to church or at least they use to? Or, do they teach Sunday school at their church and they are currently working on their doctorate in theology? Does any of this really matter? Just because I sit in a garage all day, it doesn’t make me a car. So let’s take a look at what to look for in a Christian counselor.
First, is authenticity. Make sure when you talk to the therapist for your consult that you can sense that they are being real with you and most importantly, themselves. Assess the counselor’s ability for self-reflection and feel free to ask questions concerning the counselor’s faith statement, walk, and spiritual journey. Maybe even ask how they came to the faith and how their life changed when they did. Sharing spiritual testimonies is wonderful way to see the genuine heart of fellow Christians whether a counselor or not.
Next, discuss the counselor’s knowledge of the Bible, biblical worldview, and the application of each in the counselor’s life. Ask them how they know the Bible, what their education is and if it included learning how to live from a biblical worldview. Don’t be afraid to ask enough questions to help you discern if the therapist is living a Christian life outside of the therapist office.
Last and most importantly, discuss with the counselor what their process and application is of the Christian faith within the therapeutic process. Let’s just be honest here, not many of us have a desire to walk into a therapist’s office lost and broken to then be beaten profusely by the distortions of the words and book that are meant to bring us hope, healing, and joy.
Kristy Palacios, LPCC
Kristy is a counselor from the Northern Denver Metro area that specializes in providing counseling for women that are struggling with depression and anxiety and trying to find direction and purpose in life.