How to find Christian marriage counseling? It can be confusing and hard. Christian counseling is offered by many different people and comes in several forms. Understanding these differences is key in how to find Christian marriage counseling that's right for you. Let's first look at the most common sources of Christian counseling:
LAY COUNSELING This is the most basic type of Christian counseling available and is usually offered by a layperson (someone just like you) that may or may not have received some form of training. These people can provide a good listening ear, prayer support, and some godly counsel, but have not been formally trained. Lay counselors have wonderful hearts that want to help, but their help can be limited.
PASTORAL COUNSELING Meeting with a pastor or priest is the most common form of Christian counseling. Although pastors will discuss almost all topics, it's important to remember that their training is in the area of spiritual issues, not psychological, emotional, or relational problems.
PROFESSIONAL COUNSELING These Christian counselors have the most extensive training and experience. They can come with several different titles -- psychologist, marriage and family therapist, social worker, licensed professional counselor, and psychiatrist. They have years of graduate level education, are licensed by the state, and required to have malpractice insurance and take ongoing continuing education. This is the most thorough counseling resource available.
Be aware that it's easy for lay and pastoral counselors to get in over their heads and not provide you with the help you really need -- and neither you nor they may know it.
In looking how to find Christian marriage counseling it's also important to understand that not all Christian counseling is the same. Not surprisingly, like most things in religion, there can be extremes.
- Some professional counselors, who promote themselves as Christian counselors, are simply counselors who happen to be Christians, or may even just claim to be Christians. This type of Christian counselor doesn't bring any aspect of Christianity into their counseling and their Christian counseling is no different from their secular counseling.
- On the other extreme can be Biblical counselors, who reject any of the benefits of modern psychology and use the Bible as their only resource to resolve relationship problems.
I've found that most Christians simply want to know that they're receiving guidance from someone who shares their beliefs. At Guy Stuff Counseling, we offer Christian counseling based on Christian principles to those who desire it, and incorporate scripture and prayer into the counseling according to each person's wishes and comfort level.
In my experience, people most often receive Christian counseling from a layperson or pastor because it's the most easily assessible and usually free or low-cost. Keep in mind that you may need more expertise than a layperson or pastor can provide.
Some of the Christians I've worked with haven't felt comfortable with their pastor knowing the problems they're having, or haven't known a pastor to contact, so they've sought out a professional Christian counselor. I've also worked with people who've felt that they didn't get Scripturally sound counsel from professional "Christian" counselors and have looked for counseling from someone who counsels from a Biblical standard.
A good starting place in how to find Christian marriage counseling is to contact your church for a list of professional Christian counselors; some churches even have professional Christian counselors on staff; some online counselor directories, like Find a Counselor on Psychology Today, allow you to search for Christian counselors, or try the American Association of Christian Counselors (although not everyone, including Guy Stuff, becomes members); you can also do a Google or Yahoo search for Christian counseling.
Like everything, you've got to do some research to find a Christian counselor that works for you. Don't be afraid to ask questions about their training, experience, how they incorporate Christianity into their counseling, and that their beliefs are inline with yours. Also don't hesitate to look for someone else if you don't feel that you're getting what you want or need.
How to find Christian marriage counseling can be a little challenging, but with some persistence you'll find the Christian counselor that's just right for you.
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