If your mental health is impacting your ability to live and be the person God created you to be, it is time for help and therapy is one of the options you may choose. While the Holy Spirit should be our first Counselor, according to the Bible we may and should have people as well.
- Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety. Proverbs 11:14 ESV
- Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed. Proverbs 15: 22 ESV
“An abundance of counselors” can include family and one’s social network, as well as a counselor or therapist. As we discussed in the last article, therapists (or counselors) can be helpful in teaching skills to overcome anxiety and also help with teaching you how to implement skills such as the six antidotes to anxiety. In the United States licensing for therapists is at the state level. Psychologists and social workers are two options. There are also therapists in every state who have varying titles based on the state, but should be at least a master’s degree prepared therapist/counselor.
What should I look for in a therapist?
Many Christians think they can only go to a Christian therapist. The reality is there is not an abundance of Christian therapists and depending on where you live it may not be possible to find one. Not every topic you may seek therapy for requires a Christian viewpoint.
Here are some of the most important characteristics a good therapist should have, this is not an exhaustive list:
- They make you feel comfortable — you should feel safe, supported, cared about, and heard.
- They are unbiased, non-judgmental, and open-minded — this includes open-minded and respectful of your beliefs even if they do not believe the same.
- They ask questions — these questions help them understand you better, but also make you think and see things differently than you did before.
- They maintain confidentiality — if they see you in public, likely they will not speak to you as they want to maintain your privacy.
- They give good homework — 90% of your therapy will be when you are practicing what you learned when you were in their office, your homework.
If you see the person a few times and you do not feel they are meeting the requirements you have, try another therapist.
If you are fortunate enough to live in an area with many therapists, you might look for someone who specializes in the topic you are looking for help with. Not all therapists love to work with every topic, just like not all teachers like teaching the same grade. Some therapists specialize in anxiety, others may specialize in obsessive compulsive disorder, hair-pulling, or couples counseling.
When should I look for a Christian therapist?
There are certain topics for which you may need to see a Christian or even Seventh-day Adventist therapist. These would include topics that therapists who are not believers would not see as a problem, such as social use of cannabis or alcohol. There are also some marital topics which may be better addressed with a biblical viewpoint.
In some states, there is no regulation of “Christian” counseling and it is possible for anyone to hang up a sign and say they are a counselor. Be sure to check into the education of the person and if they are licensed as these give you assurance they have at least a minimum level of understanding of being a therapist.
Most of all, when seeking a therapist, pray about it. If possible, seek the counsel of someone you trust who may be able to give suggestions as well.