What do we mean by “Christian counseling”? What makes counseling Christian? In all counseling, you have the therapist/counselor and the client. The therapist and the client have life experiences, their personalities, their skills and learning. Each one of us has beliefs, values and ideas we assume to be true about ourselves, others, and how life works. We may not be aware of what we are assuming to be true. But in order to make our way through life, we have to have these beliefs, values and ideas.
We use these beliefs, values and ideas to help us interpret events, so they make sense to us, and to cope with life. In a real sense, each of us tells our self the story of our life by using these beliefs, values and ideas to interpret what we experience. The counselor and client bring their stories based on their beliefs, values and ideas to the therapy sessions.
In addition to their stories, therapists also have professional training in theories and models about human problems and what a healthy person looks like in thinking, behavior, and relating. Here is where the “Christian” comes into counseling to make it Christian counseling. The counselor who says he or she is a Christian counselor has the same training as any other counselor. But that counselor also makes sense of experiences, of theories, of models using the lens of Christian faith, beliefs, practices, and experiences.
We use these beliefs, values and ideas to help us interpret events, so they make sense to us, and to cope with life. In a real sense, each of us tells our self the story of our life by using these beliefs to interpret what we experience.
So when a Christian counselor does counseling, he or she makes sense of client problems and needs in light of both professional training and the Christian story. For a counselor to be sensitive to his or her Christian beliefs and to their living relationship with God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit while doing the work of counseling is challenging. For this reason, many good counselors who are Christian, struggle to use the truth of God found in many secular theories and models of human behavior and problems, while at the same time, making Christ central to the process of healing and change.
Grace Like a River counselors are unique as Christian counselors, because we consciously pursue holding on to both parts of counseling through the use of transformational prayer—a mindset and approach that the counselor learns. We use our professional training and knowledge, while clearly making God the Holy Spirit, the Son, and the Father integral to the therapy session and client experience. Through the use of transformational prayer, we offer clients opportunities to meet with God in prayer at the point of their deepest pain and wounds. The counselor acts as a guide, but steps back to allow God to do what only God can do: touch client wounds with his healing presence and power to make deep, lasting change at the core of a person’s self.