Christians Looking for Counseling: Biblically Based Therapy
Christian counseling takes evidenced-based therapeutic approaches and screens them through the eyes of scripture. Handel Behavioral Health Services (HBHS) has a team of christian counselors on their roster. It is the belief of this team that if science is the study of nature, nature was created by God and that the Bible is God’s word, then the evidence provided by psychological research will coincide with the truth of scriptures. To this end, the Christian Counselors at our Franklin, Amherst, West Springfield and Wilbraham offices are all trained and experienced in evidence based therapeutic practice while also mindful of scriptures and how the two interact.
Christians and Therapy in Massachusetts
Some Christians may avoid getting counseling help out of fear that they will be engaging in something that is at odds with that which is most important to them, their faith. It is also possible that there may be a stigma in Christian circles against getting professional help or even needing help in the first place! Statistics done by BARNA, an Evangelical Christian polling firm, show that half the number of Christians seek counseling as non-Christians, 15% versus 33%. Interestingly, for those Christians that did engage with counseling, more Christians found the experience to be “very positive” than non-Christians, 54% versus 33% (Barna Group, 2018). Mental health struggles that therapy can help with may include:
- Stress from life transitions
- Grief over losses
- Anger and Irritability
- Coping with behaviors such as over-eating and cutting
- Addictions such as porn, alcohol, drugs, and gamboling
- Mood swings
- Effects from past trauma interfering with daily life
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Chronic Pain
Often, by avoiding the problem out of fear, shame, or not knowing where to turn for help, the problems and difficulties can become more difficult to bear and entrenched. Having clarity about seeking professional help could help clear a path to find recovery. Holding these difficulties alone and becoming stuck in them does not lead to the life that God wants us to live, lives where we feel peace and joy, reflect His character, and are people who are filled enough to be able to, in turn, help and fill others.
The apostle Paul, in his letter to the church in Rome, said “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”
Why is Biblically Based Counseling Important?
At its root, therapy should client-lead. According to the American Counseling Association, in therapy, “Counselors work with clients on strategies to overcome obstacles and personal challenges that they are facing… Counseling is a collaborative effort between the counselor and client. Professional counselors help clients identify goals and potential solutions to problems which cause emotional turmoil; seek to improve communication and coping skills; strengthen self-esteem; and promote behavior change and optimal mental health” (2022).
An ethical clinician should counsel their client according to the client’s own values and towards the client’s set goals. If a client’s values and goals are Biblical, then counseling should be Biblical as well. Finding a clinician that is familiar with Biblical principles can further help to ensure that the clinician and a Bible believing client will be pulling in the same direction, using methods that complement, not contradict, one’s faith. One study found that mental health outcomes and growth were the same for a Christian seeking counseling from either a Christian or non-Christian, but that seeking help from a Christian counselor also helped to facilitate spiritual growth in the individual.
Seeking Therapy as a Christian
The Bible refers to the Messiah as our perfect counselor, but that does not mean that He can’t use other’s support and counsel to help us find our way out of darkness and bondage and into the light. In fact, the apostle Paul said in his letter to the church in Galatia that we are to “bear each other’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ”.
If you are struggling under a terrible burden, you don’t have to go through it alone. We certainly can and should share our “burdens” with friends, family, other church members, and pastors. Sometimes, however, what is causing difficulty can make it hard to reach out to others or when you do, they may not feel equipped to walk alongside you in a way that is able to meet the present need. Clinicians are people who have been trained to and have practice with walking alongside people in their darkest and most difficult times.
Booking a Christian Counselor at HBHS
Handel Behavioral Health Services is a counseling agency with a team of trained and experienced mental health therapists that work with individuals to manage a number of emotional and behavioral challenges such as depression, anxiety, relationship issues, and major life transitions, among others. If you are struggling and feel ready to look for help, HBHS has many clinicians and Christian counselors available to help. In Eastern Massachusetts we have an office in Franklin and in Western MA, there are offices available in Amherst, West Springfield, and Wilbraham. Call (413) 343- 4357 or book online at hbhtherapy.com to find available services; in-person or via telehealth.