A few months back, I shared my experience about visiting a counselor and how it almost didn’t happen. Two reasons why it almost didn’t happen: my cultural background (Cameroonian/African) and my faith. In that post, I shared why many Africans look down on counseling/therapy because our culture doesn’t support sharing your worries or concerns with ‘strangers’ and so do Christians.
Christians believe that anyone who calls themselves Christ’s-follower, should not have need for a counselor or therapist because Christ is all you need. As a Christian, I agree that Christ is all you need to get you through life in good and bad times. But there are times when the soul is so bogged down that it needs a place of release.
I know some would argue that there are christian counseling centers, which I agree but how well are they being used. The idea of counseling is still somewhat new in Christian circles and although these counseling services exist, how many churches actually encourage their members to use them? Some churches would actually make the individual feel guilt about their intent to use counseling because to them, you should speak to one person only who is Jesus.
The teaching of seeking God’s face and going to him in prayers no matter the season in your life is a very good one that all Christians should practice. But there are times when you want to speak to another person who would provide some kind of feedback and that’s where counseling comes in. James 5:6 says “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working”.
For those who are not catholic and do not believe in confessing to a priest, what then is the best alternative of speaking to someone with a better understanding and even a calling to guide you as you navigate Christianity? I would think that would be counselor, but in this case let’s make it a Christian counselor. I think maybe that’s one of the meanings of that verse, to seek out a Christian counselor who would guide you.
I think at some points in our lives, we all find the need to have that one person we can confide in; that one person who would listen to us unequivocally, provide sound advice or feedback, and wouldn’t judge us for the things we share with them and who can assure discreetness with the information shared. Some are fortunate to have friends who play this role and some not very much. Sometimes, even with the presence of friends who we can trust, you just need a stranger who is completely neutral.
Counseling does not take away from your time with God or does not negate your relationship with Him. If anything, it should strengthen it because after speaking with a counselor, they often times advice, motivate and encourage the ‘counselee’. In the case that it is a Christian counselor, they seek out Christian methods to help you deal with that situation. It might just be recommending biblical passages that were unknown to you, or a biblical based group where you get support from each other or better still, provide ways to better live as a Christian with regards to that particular concern.
Our families and friends each have roles they play in our lives; some are fortunate to have those they can turn to when seeking for counsel and guidance, others not so much. For those ones I suggest trying counseling or therapy. Seek out a Christian-focused counselor or therapist who is credible and who has testimonials. Because sometimes, we need physical interaction, communication, reassurance that no matter the turmoil that is brewing within, God would calm it all down. So don’t be afraid to see one or seek one and feel no guilt for doing so. The important thing is that you get the help you need before it is too late. Sometimes, it takes a counselor to reassure us of that TRUTH.