We cannot fall prey to the misconceptions regarding Christian therapy, and we will not let the enemy win when the Lord has put victory and freedom within our reach through godly Christian therapists.
Even though therapy is discussed more openly by Christians than it was in the past, many misconceptions persist. There is still a stigma around seeing a counselor, especially among Christians. According to Barna research, one in three non-Christians (33%) acknowledges seeking treatment for mental illness, more than twice the percentage of practicing Christians (15%). Of course, you could argue that Christians probably don’t suffer from mental illness as much as non-Christians, but that isn’t the case. The truth is misconceptions about Christian therapy are keeping Christians from seeking the help they need. The only way we can save our marriages, heal from pain, find freedom from addictions, and overcome the mental health crises that plague our country and churches is by addressing these misconceptions head-on.
Here are seven misconceptions regarding Christian therapy and the truth to battle those lies:
1. Christian Therapy Is Only for “Big” Problems
This begs the question: What qualifies as a “big” problem? Often, the answer is "problems bigger than ours." This misconception keeps most people from seeking help because they never feel their problems are “big” enough for Christian therapy. Of course, this is counter to what we believe about our God. No problem is too small for our Lord. No issue is too insignificant for His attention. As followers of Christ, called to love one another as Christ has loved us, we need to model the “no problem is too small” kind of love. As we know, “small” problems often turn into “big” problems when they go unattended. Marriages don’t fall apart overnight. Depression and anxiety don’t become debilitating in the blink of an eye. Christian therapists can help prevent “big” problems if we seek the help we need when our problems are “small.”
2. Christian Therapists Are Judgemental and Preachy
This assumption about Christian therapists is a basic misunderstanding of what therapists do and the kind of training they have. Christian therapists are not judgemental, preachy people who sit listening to their clients, waiting for the chance to come down on them with their harsh interpretations and lack of compassion. Christian therapists are highly educated and have graduate degrees in their chosen fields. They spend hundreds of hours training with mentors and must pass state testing requirements to be licensed. That training has prepared them to listen patiently and professionally and to keep everything confidential. Christian therapists are well-equipped to provide compassionate care to their clients, not only through their professional training but through their personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Christ, Himself is the perfect example of a compassionate listener, sitting with men and women from all walks of life and offering them perfect love. Christian therapists provide care and attention that models the love and understanding of Christ our Lord.
3. Christian Therapy Isn’t Worth the Cost
While Christian therapy can be expensive, it doesn’t have to be. Many Christian counselors work on a sliding scale, charging their clients only what they can afford. Many believers make donations to counseling ministries so that their brothers and sisters in Christ will be able to get the therapy they need without too much of a financial burden. Regardless of the exact dollar amount, Christian therapy is worth every penny. And can you really put a price tag on healing? How much would you pay to save your marriage? To find relief from anxiety and depression? To restore your relationship with your child? To gain victory over an addiction or an eating disorder? The time and money invested will come back one-hundredfold.
4. Christian Therapy Is an Excuse to Complain About Your Life
Many of us were raised in households where discussing hard topics was discouraged. This is often looked at as complaining or dwelling on the negative, or living in the past. We are taught it’s better not to mention it, but wounds don’t heal on their own. They get infected and fester. Christian therapy is not complaining or dwelling on the negative or living in the past. It’s bringing that which thrives in the darkness out into the light. Only by shining light in the darkness can we find healing and peace. The Enemy wants nothing more than for our pain to remain private and unspoken. Our Lord wants to free us from the shame and pain of private struggles. He invites us to bear one another’s burdens as the family of God, and often, we can only do that if we are willing to openly share with a Christian therapist.
5. Christian Therapy Is for the Weak-Minded
This is a basic misunderstanding of personal pain and mental illness. It takes incredible strength to battle mental illness and face our pain head-on. It takes incredible strength to be honest about our past, our mistakes, our bad habits, our hurts, and our hardships. It takes incredible strength to come to terms with a mental illness diagnosis or to stand up against an addiction. Christian therapy is for the strong, those who are strong enough to admit they are weak and need help.
6. Christian Therapy Is for People Who Don’t Trust God to Heal Them
Is God our Healer? Yes, He is. Does he often use doctors and other professionals to bring about His healing? Absolutely. The Lord has gifted us with Christian therapists as His agents on earth to bring healing and wholeness to His people. We would never tell someone with a broken leg, "Don't get it set, but trust the Lord to heal it." Christian therapy is like setting the brokenness in our lives along the sturdy truth of God and watching while He does a miraculous work under the surface. Those who seek Christian therapy absolutely trust that God will heal them and that He will use Christian therapy in that healing.
7. Christian Therapy Is for People Who Don’t Pray or Read Their Bible
Should those struggling with brokenness and pain pray for restoration? Of course. Should they read the Bible for peace in the storm? Every single day. But are those the only tools in their tool belt? No. When our marriages are broken, when we struggle with anxiety or depression, when we are battling addictions or eating disorders, when we need to find freedom, we should pray, read our Bibles, talk to trusted, godly friends… and see a Christian therapist. A Christian therapist also prays and reads the Bible for wisdom and guidance in guiding their clients toward healing. A Christian therapist trusts the Lord to do His redemptive work and knows the healing power of prayer and God’s Word. Seeking Christian therapy is something we do, along with prayer and Bible study, not instead of it.
These seven misconceptions have kept many Christians from experiencing the healing and wholeness God has waiting for them. Since the Garden of Eden, the enemy has used lies to keep us from God’s best, and this is no exception. Remember the benefits of Christian therapy, and repeat these truths to yourself and others. We cannot fall prey to the misconceptions regarding Christian therapy, and we will not let the enemy win when the Lord has put victory and freedom within our reach through godly Christian therapists.
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