Christian Counseling and Therapy
The term “Christian counseling” tends to raise alarm from both Christian’s as well as non-Christian’s alike. A non-Christian will look at a term like Christian counseling and think it’s some kind of pseudo-psychological evangelism. Christian’s will look at the same term and wonder whether the practice of psychology will betray or distort the principles of their faith. This is usually why people when they find that I am both a Christian and a psychologist, ask whether I do “Christian counseling”. Understandably, all people are wanting to be sure that there is a common spiritual and moral basis for the counseling process that fit with their beliefs. Since at the most basic level the Bible is about how we are to live our life in relational connection, both with others and God, I actually find psychology and theology to be in harmony with each other. Saint Irenaeus once stated that “The glory of God is man fully alive” and bringing people more fully into living is my goal for anyone with whom I work regardless of their spiritual position.
Since my doctoral program at Rosemead School of Psychology at Biola University included the equivalent of a Masters degree in theology, I have thought long and hard about the interplay of the spiritual and psychological. Just knowing that fact is often enough for most to trust the work we do together in therapy, but for those who would like the scriptural basis for our direction and work together in therapy, I am happy to provide that information in detail.
Do You Need Christian Counseling or Christian Therapy?
In some cases, providing the “counseling” of scripture and truth, which is usually the method of pastoral/lay/biblical counseling, will bring about transformation and healing. However, most already know the “truth” and remain stuck in areas of their life in spite of this. As mentioned in my FAQ page, I distinguish counseling, such as Christian counseling, from therapy or Christian therapy. When simple, truthful counsel is not adequate for change, there are deeper heart level issues to be addressed. The philosopher, Jean Jacques Rousseau, once stated that “God created man in his own image. And man, being a gentleman, returned the favor.” In essence, he is reflecting on the fact that so much of what we do in our relationship with God is shaped, for better and for worse, by our important relationships with people. This is when the practice of psychology can be an instrument used for change. As the relationship in therapy enacts and applies the truths found in scripture, a person becomes equipped and free to live more fully based upon a new and more truthful reflection of who they are and who God is. In other words, people come to “know the truth” experientially and this truly sets them free.
I have a long history of work with churches in the community since opening my office in south Orange county in 2000. I am one of a limited number of the therapist on the referral list of Saddleback Church for Christian counseling and spent years volunteering in the depression support group to provide professional input, education, and support to those who would not normally be able to afford individual care. At Mariners church, I was part of the team overseeing the revision and re-writing of the lay counselor training program as well as volunteering for several years to oversee and train lay counselors there. I have been invited to speak at a variety of churches in the area on topics including couples communication, personality styles, love “languages” and continue to offer consultation to pastors in their own counseling of church members as well as providing therapy services to pastors when they need care and help for themselves.