Christian Counseling: Why and When It Can Benefit Believers

Rachel Go
With the ubiquity of mental health issues, many people, including those in the Christian community, are reluctant to discuss and navigate this topic. Learn how God can work through licensed Christian mental health counselors to guide you and your family through these five prevalent life circumstances.

This year, more than 1 in 5 U.S. adults will experience mental illness, and 1 in 6 children ages 6-17 will experience a mental health disorder, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. As this organization aims to destigmatize mental illness during Mental Health Awareness Week, we too believe that this topic should be discussed on an ongoing basis within the Christian community. In the same way Christians are not immune to ailments that prompt us to seek medical attention, our brains as organs are also susceptible to deterioration and chemical imbalances that can affect our emotions, and subsequently, our behavior and decision-making. But why?
 
When original sin made its debut into the world at the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3), that opened the door for disease, illness, and all other types of brokenness. In the Bible, we see godly men and women face personal battles that result from living in a fallen and depraved world. The good news is that Jesus will make all things new when He returns to dwell among His followers in a new, sinless earth where “there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain” (Revelation 21). Oh, what a glorious day that will be! Although we cling onto that hope and prepare for Christ’s return, we are also called to illuminate this dark world. One way we can do so is by learning how to respond to the rise in mental illness and maintain sound mental health for our own sake and for the sake of others. This is easier said than done, however.
The Lord can use the scars in our stories to lead others closer to Him and bring about meaningful change.
Unfortunately, mental health is a taboo topic with a stigma attached to it. Although the state of one’s spiritual life can affect their mental and even physical health, Christians can be quick to equate mental health issues as always being spiritual issues that can just be “prayed away.” We should be seeking God in the valleys of our life and also recognizing that He can stretch out His healing hand through people. If I broke a bone in my arm and was in pain, I probably wouldn’t rely solely on prayer. I would combine prayer with the practical step of seeking help from a medical professional who is trained to handle such a problem. Christian counselors who are licensed therapists can help you and your family navigate life’s seasons and challenges in a way that is grounded in biblical truth. Scripture supports psychology and science, and psychology and science point back to what we’ve been given in the Word.
If I broke a bone in my arm and was in pain, I probably wouldn’t rely solely on prayer.
We experience many situations throughout the course of our lives that need to be processed. Here are some common life scenarios that can be navigated with a licensed mental health Christian counselor who can help point you and your loved ones in the right direction, retrain deeply ingrained thought patterns, and reach your God-given potential:
 
  • Milestones and Transitions

    Milestones and transitions such as starting high school or college, or a new school altogether can be great to process together as a family with a licensed Christian counselor. It is recommended that families schedule an annual check-in with a therapist to gauge their “temperature” and determine if ongoing sessions will be beneficial.

    Parents who are “empty nesters” may also need some help reconnecting with each other and establishing a new normal with their kids out of the house.

  • Marriage and Divorce

    A therapist can help mend relationships that are on the fringe with practical tools that can lead toward reconciliation. I highly recommend that divorced parents with children use therapy to continue a healthy and civil dialogue, which is key to ensuring that their children have the support, security, and stability they need.

    Married couples don’t have to be experiencing challenges to attend counseling together. Perhaps they want to strengthen their marriage and develop an even stronger bond to remain grounded when trials do come their way. Engaged couples can also receive pre-marital counseling to discuss important topics such as finances and sexual intimacy to ensure that they are on the same page as they prepare for a new season.
    We don’t know what the future holds, but we know Who holds the future.
  • Health and Wellness

    Many people struggle with poor eating and fitness habits that often lead to health problems. Physical issues like these can signal emotional and spiritual ones that a licensed therapist can help identify and rectify to help you or a loved one be a better caretaker of your bodies, which are temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19).

    Counseling can also help you identify and reach personal goals that align with the unique personality, gifts, and passions God gave you. Living a full and fulfilled life that’s smack-dab in the middle of God’s will sounds pretty amazing to me!

  • Death and Trauma

    Death is very much a part of life, but knowing that doesn’t make grief any easier to process. Connecting with a licensed therapist individually or as a family can help process emotions amidst your loss. It’s also wise to schedule sessions in advance when you anticipate certain days or seasons being difficult to experience without the person(s) you lost, such as birthdays, anniversaries, or holidays.

    Unexpected traumatic experiences can be incredibly difficult to process without any help, which can lead to long-term pain and unhealthy coping habits. Going to therapy can not only act as a step in the healing journey, but also as a way to discover silver linings and a renewed sense of purpose. The Lord can use the scars in our stories to lead others closer to Him and bring about meaningful change.

  • The Future

    We all have probably struggled with anxious thoughts at one point or another regarding the unpredictability of the future. For some, the anxiety and stress can be debilitating. According to Psychology Today, anxiety disorders affect roughly a quarter of teens, which can be triggered by college preparation, test-taking, and even social media use. Therapists can help teens overcome such anxiety with practical coping mechanisms and by reminding them of biblical truths and promises. As the saying goes: we don’t know what the future holds, but we know Who holds the future.
 
CCA’s middle and high school counselors as well as our elementary administrator Pam Walker can provide you with faith-based therapy recommendations and point you in the right direction to receive professional help. Some health insurance plans cover mental health counseling, but in the event yours does not, you can look for a practice or provider that uses a sliding scale based on your family’s income to determine an hourly rate.

The Lord cares about every aspect of our lives, including our mental and emotional well-being. May we seek Him first and foremost by asking Him for wisdom and clarity as we navigate this life in our earthly bodies. Our God is not a God of confusion and chaos, but of peace and rest (1 Corinthians 14:33; Matthew 11:28), and He can extend that peace to you and your loved ones through mental health professionals. There’s incredible strength in admitting that you need help or want to improve. Even Paul the Apostle recognized that: “For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10)

 


Rachel Go has been a high school counselor at CCA since 2013. She is married to her college sweetheart who she met at Liberty University and is passionate about living a healthy lifestyle to maintain spiritual, physical, and mental wholeness and helping others do the same!
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