You Can Be a Christian and Seek Individual Psychotherapy
Your spiritual beliefs can exist prior to the shock of an unfortunate incident, or they can come into being (or strengthen) in response to a stressful event.
Yet, seeking professional help under stressful circumstances, such as physical, emotional, or verbal abuse, can pose a challenge – particularly if you are a Christian.
Christians are often made to feel as though they should have all of the answers and if they seek assistance from a therapist in sorting out all of their options, they are often faced with a dilemma because they are viewed as being hypocrites.
Some question whether these Christians are substituting God with man. Are they doubting God’s words and replacing them with man’s fallacies?
Psychologists do not have all of the answers. If you stumble upon one whom thinks that she does, then that says more about that individual person than it does the entire field of psychology.
A psychologist’s goal is not to provide you with answers, but to help you to adopt new ways of solving your problems, or challenges in life.
Although media reports suggest that there is no such thing as a Christian Psychologist, I am here to tell you that that claim simply isn’t true.
There are therapists in this nation, and internationally, who will incorporate your spiritual beliefs into therapy sessions.
When you are faced with the need to acknowledge your true feelings and process the extreme emotions that surface as a result of your unhealthy living conditions, there are therapists who will listen to you and help you find solutions befitting of your faith.
Spiritual practices, such as prayer, tend to benefit survivors of domestic violence. Drug addicts who are provided the opportunity to re-frame their thought process and view themselves through a more positive lens, become advocates for change.
Implementing spiritual/religious practices into therapy sessions can supplement various therapeutic techniques.
This presents you with alternative ways to deal with stressful events, a means to develop a stronger sense of who you have become since the stressful event or illness, and it gives you a voice in determining what types of integration you prefer and what you consider to be most helpful.
When your religious beliefs are mindfully implemented into your individual therapy sessions, resulting benefits are all-encompassing.
If you are interested in psychotherapy, but would like for your therapist to incorporate your spiritual beliefs into your individual sessions, below are some guidelines to follow in your search for a therapist.
What to Consider When Searching for a Therapist:
Is this the right time for you to seek out therapy?
Therapy can be extremely beneficial, but it requires a lot of hard work and dedication. Unfamiliar emotions may surface. Are you ready to deal with whatever comes up for you?
Is there a therapist that you have in mind?
Have you been given a recommendation, or do you have the time to begin your own search? If you are looking yourself, you might ask a church leader, friend, or family member if they may know of anyone. Or, you can explore the websites of non-profit agencies for leads. The Yellow Pages may seem a bit random – go this route at your own discretion.
Is the person you found licensed and accepting new clients?
When a therapist is licensed, they are obligated to meet a high standard of ethical guidelines. Once you find someone and learn that they are licensed, you would then want to know if they are accepting patients. If so, how soon would you be able to meet?
Will your health insurance be accepted at this location?
Some health insurance companies are beginning to include mental health care as a benefit. You may want to confirm this with your health insurance company.
What are the session fees? Is there a sliding scale?
This is something you will want to know right from the beginning.
Does this person have a specialty?
If so, what is it and would it be beneficial to you? Some psychologists are Marriage and Family Counselors, some practice Gestalt Therapy, or work with trauma victims, among other specialties. Inquire about this up front in order to find the therapist who is right for you.
Is this person willing to incorporate your belief system into the therapy sessions?
More and more therapist used integrative methods. You may even find this information posted on their website or written in their brochures. If it is not so obvious – ask! This is the most important factor, so ask away!
How often will you meet?
Therapist are usually flexible in response to this question. Depending on the counseling center and your needs, you and the therapist will likely devise an action plan that you’d both agree to work towards.
What to Consider During Your First Phone Call and/or Meeting:
How do you feel?
Do you like the flow of conversation? Is this a person that you could see yourself meeting one to four times a month? If so, that’s great. If not, keep looking. You want to find someone who is best fit for you.
Would you consider this person to be a good match for you?
Again, you have every right to be choosy. Your focus should be to find someone who will help you to improve your well-being. You have the right to be selfish in the matter, but your therapist does not have that right.
If you sit with someone who puts her/his needs before your own, then you may want to consider finding someone else to be your therapist.
Are you comfortable with the techniques being used?
Not all therapists are the same, nor do they have the same training. The videos below provide insight into the main types of therapeutic techniques used today.
General Tips & Info
Rest assured that the therapist you choose will hold what you share in confidence (unless you become a threat to yourself or someone else).
You have the right to request a referral to a different therapist if you find that your current therapist-client relationship isn’t working out.
What is most important is for you to get well and be allowed to incorporate your spirituality into that process.
Classic Examples of different types of therapy:
The videos below provide brief explanations of Client-Centered Therapy, Gestalt Therapy, Rational-Emotive Behavioral Therapy, Cognitive Therapy, and Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT). I think that it is safe to say that CBT is most widely used in our contemporary society.
Client-Centered Therapy (developed by: Carl Rogers, PhD)
Gestalt Therapy (developed by: Frederick (Fritz) Perls, M.D, PhD)
Rational-Emotive Therapy (developed by: Albert Ellis, PhD)
In this video, Jeffrey Guterman describes the essence of Albert Ellis's rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT).
Cognitive Therapy (developed by Aaron Beck)
Dr. Judith Beck describes Cognitive Therapy
The history of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy is explained in this video.