open prayer hands

What is Christian Counseling?

By Dr. Trent Langhofer

Life, at times, can be overwhelming. Often, during overwhelming seasons, individuals and families seek counseling. While counseling certainly offers the opportunity for healing, choosing a specific variety of counseling, or a specific type of counselor, can be a difficult task. In the following post, we want to answer the question: “What is Christian Counseling? From there, we can explore how it might be just the right fit for you. 

What is Christian Counseling?

Christian Counseling has been called different things over the last few decades.  To summarize, it will be helpful if we imagine a continuum. On one end of the continuum imagine the word “Christian.”  On the other end of the continuum, imagine the word “Counseling.” Over the past few decades, Christian counseling has been described as something that exists at some point on the continuum. Towards the Christian end of the continuum, counseling has been described as involving Christian rituals and traditions such as prayer, scripture reading, and the like, in the counseling process. Towards the counseling end of the continuum, counseling involves little to no Christian rituals and traditions. 

I would like to suggest that authentic Christian Counseling is perhaps something different from anything located on the continuum. Let me explain.
  1. It’s not the counselor that is essential. What is essential is who that counselor is connected to or who that counselor brings into the room with them. Christian counselors are connected with Jesus and bring the same spirit that resurrected Christ from the dead into the room with them. This is the first and most essential ingredient of Christian counseling.
  2. Christian Counseling should help heal the pain that stands between clients and Jesus. This may be the more counseling side of Christian counseling. This is also the component of Christian Counseling that would involve evidence-based methods used by counselors to treat the emotional and relational pain that clients feel.
  3. Christian Counseling shouldn’t feel to the client like anything extraordinary or unique. While the psychoanalysts Wilhelm Wundt or Sigmund Freud are often called the fathers of modern psychology, I suggest that Jesus is actually the modern counseling’s originator. Jesus listened to people, attended to their fears, offered individuals and families in distress counsel and comfort, and promoted the safety of children. This is what Christian Counselors are doing with clients today.
  4. Christian counseling demands that counselors direct clients away from certain unhealthy behavior. Conversely, Christian counselors should direct clients towards healthy behavior. This direction should happen after clients have been shown grace, mercy, and care. Direction should happen gently and when appropriate given the needs and goals of the client.

The Community Counseling Center at Colorado Christian University provides affordable, outpatient mental health services. Our staff of highly trained master’s-level and doctoral-level clinicians have extensive experience in integrating faith-based principles into ethical clinical mental health treatment. Discover today how the Community Counseling Center can conveniently and cost-effectively meet your mental health needs.

Find out what options you have for continuing your education and learning more about a future career in this exciting field of mental health counseling!

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