“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13
Christian Counseling as an Option:
For Christian parents choosing a therapist, you might wonder if the therapist will share your worldview? Will the therapist encourage things you have been trying to instill in your family or will the therapist undermine those values? Questions of this type have been asked by many when they call about therapy for their teenager.
Every therapist is ethically bound not to undermine a client’s belief system. However, for many families that is not enough. Some parents are looking for a therapist who can help encourage their teenager’s relationship with God, religious community, and Scripture. Many teenagers also want a therapist who can not only give them the space to process their experiences through their Christian viewpoint but is also familiar with it.
How Does A Christian Therapist View My Child?
The Christian therapists at Teen Therapy OC believe your child is “fearfully and wonderfully made,” and “knitted together in [their] mother’s womb,” from Psalm 139. Seeing your teenager in this light means the therapist believes your teenager was born into this world to serve God and others, and not themselves. It means some of the therapy “homework” will involve selfless actions, engagement with prayer and a church family, and consideration of God’s love. While much of the psychology world is occupied with learning to love oneself, Christ-centered counseling is more focused on learning how much God’s love sustains us. It is also focused on the strong Christian belief that a community of loving believers does wonders for anybody’s mental health.
How is Christian Therapy Different than Pastoral Counseling?
Your Christian therapist is specifically trained and licensed to assess your teenager for mental health issues and make a diagnosis if there is one. They will employ clinical methods for improving your child’s mental health and lovingly provide space for your teenager to process through any issue.
Pastors are a wonderful resource for support, prayer, and scriptural interpretation of your teen’s situation. They can help your teen through many situations. Pastors often refer teens and families out to a Christian therapist when the counseling will be long-term, if they suspect mental illness, or if they believe your teenager would benefit from someone who has a lot of training in how to create a mental health treatment plan.
Pastors and Christian therapists have a little bit of overlap in their training but there are a lot of differences too. Pastors focus quite a bit on biblical and theological understanding, whereas therapists focus intently on mental health and how to either treat it or maintain it. The overlap occurs in learning listening and counseling empathy skills. Sometimes your teen’s Christian therapist will confer with your youth pastor to make the most of every opportunity for supportive care.
What is an Example of How Christian Therapy Works?
One example of how Christian therapy can augment treatment is for Christian adolescents with eating disorders. We have the opportunity to discuss with your teenager whether the sole purpose for God creating your child is for your child to pursue a “perfect body.” Invariably the teenager says God put them here to worship Him and to love others, not to be a certain size. We frame the eating disorder as something that is interfering with your child receiving and experiencing God’s love and purpose for their life. The more we dive into this concept in conjunction with standard eating disorder treatment, the more they are able to anchor to a purpose beyond achieving the “perfect body.” Faith also helps parents stay strong through the exhausting process of recovery.