Should Christians Go to Therapy?

Jessica Brodie

Award-winning Christian Novelist and Journalist
Published Apr 04, 2024
Should Christians Go to Therapy?

Maybe we want to go to therapy, seeking counseling from a trained mental health counselor, but we worry. “If you pray hard enough, it’ll go away,” someone perhaps told us. Or possibly we’ve heard, “You don’t need a counselor. You only need Jesus.” But in your heart, you know you need help.

So many of us are caught up in a state of mental chaos and rumination. Perhaps we relive past sins we’ve committed or wrongs done to us, and our hearts cling to anger or pain over what we have done or the trauma we endured. It’s like heavy baggage we clutch in hands weary from the weight.

Many of us think we’ve set this baggage down, only to endure upsetting dreams and memories that open old wounds once more, like a bandage ripped off without warning. Perhaps we thought we made peace with the past, yet one day we realize it was there all along, lurking like a shark just beneath the surface of our conscious minds.  

Or perhaps we’re struggling with mental illness: anxiety, depression, personality disorder, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and more.

Whatever it is, it becomes a wall between us and the Lord, ultimately interfering with our joy and our ability to fully surrender to God’s beautiful purpose for our lives.

We pray, we cry, and we beg the Lord to take this burden from our hearts and minds. Yet it remains, a festering boil that grows worse every day until we cannot ignore it any longer.

Maybe we want to go to therapy, seeking counseling from a trained mental health counselor, but we worry. “If you pray hard enough, it’ll go away,” someone perhaps told us. Or possibly we’ve heard, “You don’t need a counselor. You only need Jesus.”

But in your heart, you know you need help.

Should Christians go to therapy?

If you’re struggling with unresolved pain, trauma, or other issues that are even mildly interfering with your life in some way, the answer is a resounding yes.

There is no biblical evidence that therapy is wrong in any way. In fact, it actually is biblically sound to seek therapy, whether it is coaching, family therapy, individual therapy, or other counseling methods.

What Is Therapy?

Therapy, also called psychotherapy or counseling, is treatment aimed at relieving emotional distress and mental health problems. Its goal is to help a person identify and change troubling emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. Sometimes, therapy is done one-on-one, between an individual and a licensed, trained mental health professional. Other times therapy occurs in group settings small or large. Other therapy occurs online.

People might be encouraged to go to therapy when they struggle with pervasive stress, or a doctor or other healthcare professional recommends it. Sometimes it is suggested by a pastor or family member to help a person cope or make peace in new ways.

What Does the Bible Say about Therapy?

First it’s important to remember that one of the names for God is “Wonderful Counselor.” As Isaiah 9:6 proclaims, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” God is our first and best counselor.

But we also know that God often speaks to us through others, particularly through loving, godly people who swell with the power of the Holy Spirit. He speaks through pastors and members of our church family, through teachers and counselors, and through trusted friends.

In Psalm 32:8, God tells us, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.” Sometimes he counsels directly, and sometimes he counsels through others.

Proverbs 12:15 offers, “The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.”

The Bible also has a lot to say about forgiveness, whether it is forgiveness of the self or forgiveness of others.

“Forgive, and you will be forgiven,” Jesus says in Luke 6:37.

As Colossians 1:13-14 reminds us, “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

When we have unresolved pain, unresolved forgiveness, and other unresolved issues, they create a barrier between us and the Lord. Any barrier between us and God is a sin; it is not good.

Some people are not able to resolve this on their own. Some get help from trusted Christian friends. Others need the assistance of a mental health counselor or coach to make peace with the past or the present.

What Can a Therapist Do?

Many Christians seek help specifically from a Christian counselor who does what is called “Christian counseling,” meaning they incorporate spiritual resources, Bible teachings, and faith traditions into therapy while employing established clinical techniques.

Others are helped by a counselor who is Christian and allows their faith to inform their counseling.

Still others have counselors who are not Christian at all but who still are able to help them recognize, release, or better manage pain and trauma, bringing to light all that was once in darkness. For, as John 1:5 proclaims, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” And as Luke 8:17 offers, “For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.”

A good therapist can bring buried issues out into the light so healing can begin. This is a wonderful, godly thing.

What Are Some Benefits of Good Therapy?

Good therapy in line with God’s values can enable you to have positive one-on-one time with someone dedicated to helping you cultivate your spiritual, emotional, and intellectual growth. And when your counselor is also a Christian, you can know your time is blessed. For as the Bible tells us, “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them” (Matthew 18:20).

Also, your time with a counselor can improve your relationship with the Lord by helping to break down barriers. It can also help you gain needed spiritual understanding and peace.

Healed, you can fully surrender to the work of the Holy Spirit in ways you never imagined.

Why Do Some People Avoid Counseling?

Various myths exist about counseling that are simply untrue. One myth is that prayer solves all mental health and other issues. This is untrue — otherwise none of us would ever seek a doctor for an illness or the assistance of anyone else in life. We were not meant to live alone. God sends us friends and other godly people to be our strong support in a whirlpool of struggle. As Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 tells us, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

Another myth is that mental illness or struggles are a plague for sin or a sign of spiritual weakness. But this is simply not true. Mental illness is no one’s fault, just as someone didn’t “earn” cancer or diabetes. Bad things happen in life. Jesus said we are to expect this (John 16:33).

Another myth is that seeking counseling means you don’t have enough faith, but this is also not true. God gives us therapy as a tool to help us grow. It is indeed good and godly to use all tools God gives us for his glory.

Finally, some people fear that talking about a situation will make it worse or heap extra negative attention on a problem. In reality, repressing a problem, particularly one that is already starting to seep out in our lives, usually makes it worse. As Ephesians 5:13-14 says, “But everything exposed by the light becomes visible — and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. This is why it is said: ‘Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.’”

Is Counseling the Solution to Everything?

Counseling is absolutely not the solution to every problem. We have one savior: our Lord Jesus Christ. Only through belief in Jesus are we saved. As John 3:16 affirms, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” And as the apostle John wrote in 1 John 4:14, “And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.”

Sometimes, we go to counseling and focus only on the emotional or mental issues and ignore the spiritual. But the most effective counseling occurs when the spiritual is also addressed and acknowledged, for this leads to genuine, holistic health.

Know this going in, and be sure to focus on your faith growth as you work on other aspects of yourself.

How Can I Find a Counselor?

Some people are blessed to have mental health and counseling covered by their insurance plan or have employee benefits that offer some free or reduced-cost counseling sessions. Others must pay full price for therapy. Still other therapists work on a sliding fee scale.

You also might find it challenging to find a therapist in your area. You might ask a trusted friend or neighbor for a recommendation, or your pastor or physician might be able to recommend someone.

If you are having trouble finding a therapist, know that many organizations have directories or locators on their websites for finding mental health professionals, including the American Psychological Association, and the Academy of Cognitive and Behavioral Therapies.

You can also find help and resources at Mental Health America and the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Additional resources, including a directory of Christian counselors, can be found at the American Association of Christian Counselors.

If you feel God steering you to therapy, take heart: It might be exactly what you need to grow closer to him and heal.


Photo credit: ©Getty Images/PeopleImages

Jessica Brodie author photo headshotJessica Brodie is an award-winning Christian novelist, journalist, editor, blogger, and writing coach and the recipient of the 2018 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Award for her novel, The Memory Garden. She is also the editor of the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate, the oldest newspaper in Methodism. Her newest release is an Advent daily devotional for those seeking true closeness with God, which you can find at Learn more about Jessica’s fiction and read her faith blog at She has a weekly YouTube devotional and podcast. You can also connect with her on Facebook,Twitter, and more. She’s also produced a free eBook, A God-Centered Life: 10 Faith-Based Practices When You’re Feeling Anxious, Grumpy, or Stressed