Sara was not excited for the holidays due to an increase feeling of depression. She needed extra help to overcome this current depressive episode. Her antidepressant wasn’t working well enough to get her back on track. Therefore, Sara decided to try psychotherapy to better address her negative thoughts. Depression is often prompted by negative beliefs […]
Often I get asked: If I need a therapist, does the person need to be a Christian? Does it matter or is it just important that the person be well-trained?
Yes, I do believe it is important to have a Christian therapist. Here’s why. The world-view of a therapist makes a difference. You need someone who understands your faith and can guide you from a biblical perspective. Someone who is unfamiliar with the Bible is at a disadvantage in directing you to health. They do not know your world view nor can they relate to concepts like the power of healing through Christ, agape love, covenant vs contract, Christian mindfulness, etc. A Christian therapist integrates faith with psychological principles that support the tenets of the faith. Faith is a part of healing.
Therapy is not value free. While therapists are trained to respect the values of their clients and work from the client’s worldview, it is impossible to be totally neutral when it comes to values. One of the most dangerous movements right now is that licensing boards are pressuring Christians to accept narratives based on secular ideology. And despite the lack of evidence for their positions, they want to dictate their value system. This goes against the way we were trained.
In addition, a therapist’s belief system informs his or her work, especially in couples therapy. For example, there is data that shows that when a therapist is neutral or negative about marriage, there is a higher rate of divorce.
Remember, you are the consumer of therapy services. It is perfectly appropriate to ask a practice or insurance company to provide referrals for Christian therapists. You can also check with local churches and professional organizations like The American Association of Christian Counselors or Focus on the Family for possible referrals. Another way to find a good Christian therapist is through word of mouth. Talk to other Christians who have seen a therapist and ask how the therapist treated their Christian faith. Don’t be afraid to ask. It’s too important.
Also, be specific when you ask about faith. Many therapists say they are “spiritual” but that covers a wide variety of religions and new age thinking. Here’s an example. A Christian woman called and wanted to see me in therapy. I didn’t have an opening and she was desperate for help. When I checked with my regular referrals, no one had room to take a new client. One of my colleagues told me she was available. She called herself Christian, Upon further checking, I learned that she believed in astrology and eastern religions. I knew she had previously sent patients to psychics so I politely declined her offer. The client specifically requested a born again Christian therapist and did not believe in psychics or astrology. Even though the therapist had good credentials and training, she would have not been a good match.
To sum, try to find someone whose values are compatible with yours. Be assertive. You want the right guidance when you do the work. So much of what you do in therapy involves the way you think and believe. Someone with different views and values can create more problems than good. They can steer you away from biblical truth. So, find those well-trained Christian therapists and get the help you need.