Why Should Believers Choose Faith-Based Counseling?

By Kate McMahon

In this modern life, stress is becoming more and more of a constant in peoples' lives. Millions of people of all ages have sought the advice of trained professionals when problems seem insurmountable. However, choosing the person who will provide this help is a step that must be taken with care. For Christians, faith-based counseling offers the probability that counselor and client will share common ground.

Many people find the idea of counseling frightening or repugnant. They either deny the severity of personal problems, feel that they are capable of handling them alone, or are afraid that there is some kind of stigma involved with admitting they need help. Many, especially those with addictions, blame everyone but themselves for their problems.

Once people acknowledge the need for counseling, either alone or as a couple or family, then the choice of a counselor becomes important. The world view of the counselor will dictate the approach used and the end results desired. This is one reason for choosing an advisor who shares a fundamental belief system with the person or persons needing help.

For instance, forgiveness is a fundamental rule and tool for Christians. It is human nature to hold on to resentment, hurt, and self-recrimination. Moving beyond a problem and making a fresh start is harder when bitterness and unforgiveness is not dealt with. Some programs of healing start with confrontation of others, not in a forgiving spirit but in a systematic understanding, acceptance, and 'bringing it all out in the open' manner.

For many, this keeps the focus on what others have done rather than on personal responsibility. A Christian is expected to recognize what others have done, offer and seek forgiveness, and then turn to God to get healing from bad experiences and move forward personally. Whether or not the other parties involved respond in a spirit of reconciliation is not of paramount importance.

Focusing on God and His teaching helps people to take their focus off their past problems - which people can relive over and over for a lifetime - and move on to a relationship with God that helps them start anew. Changing themselves, in attitude and action, is key to successfully restoring relationships and beginning to live with hope.

Both counseled and counselor should have common ground on which to build a foundation of healthy emotional response and practical life skills. A person of faith will have a hard time trying to follow advice that is not based on biblical principles. Those who look to Christ for help will not find satisfaction in methods that do not follow His precepts of love, forgiveness, and trust.

Care must be taken to get faith-based counseling that fits a client's belief system, needs, and expectations. It is important to check both the credentials and the track record of any advisor. Of course, after a preliminary session or two, it will be apparent whether the parties will be able to work together in a productive manner.

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