Knowing where to start when looking for a counsellor is difficult. It can feel even more complicated for Christians or anyone from a faith background. Here are five helpful questions you can ask yourself during this process:
- Should I speak with a pastor or an accredited counsellor? Because they often play distinctly helpful roles, it's not a bad idea to talk with your pastor and a counsellor. Pastors can be valuable sounding boards by providing godly wisdom. They may also understand the context of your problem better than someone outside of your community. A counsellor will bring more expertise to the conversation with more complex psychological issues like trauma or abuse. The need for formal counselling arises when your resources to progress on a personal issue have stalled despite your best efforts.
- Do I want to talk about my faith during the session? Some clients prefer to keep faith separate from their counselling sessions, while others see faith as an essential part of their pathway to healing. Once you've determined what you'd like to discuss during the session, it is important to communicate this with your counsellor before your first session.
- Does the counsellor need to be a Christian? Counsellors who are not Christians can be helpful to Christians, but some clients can be suspicious of non-Christian counsellors due to the difference in worldviews. The key is for the client to feel comfortable during the session and confident that the counsellor can help.
- Is the counsellor experienced in dealing with issues related to your faith? If you'd like to address a problem through the lens of your faith, you may benefit more from having a Christian counsellor. If a religious leader or a church has hurt you, some clients prefer to speak with someone not connected to their community or faith. A skilled Christian counsellor can look through the lens of faith while respecting the client's perspective - even if it questions the Christian faith.
- Is the Christian counsellor a part of an accredited body like the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP)? Some counsellors have had informal training but may need more training to help you. It's essential to ensure that the Christian counsellor is a part of a governing body to ensure they've received the necessary level of training.