Written by Amber Fuller, Owner and Clinic Director of Fuller Living Counseling
I belong to a group for therapists on social media where we ask if people have openings and share other resources and information. Somebody had posted in the group asking if anybody has openings for people who have experience working with religious trauma and patriarchy abuse. I responded to this by saying that our practice has some providers that have openings to help treat this. The response that I got back kind of took me surprise. The person had responded by saying that if we are a Christian counseling practice then we probably aren’t a good fit. This puzzled me. I realized lots of things in this moment, one of the biggest things I realized, however, is that people may not know what “Christian counseling” is. I know the person was innocent in questioning me and she just truly didnt understand or know what Christian counseling is. I responded to her comment by letting her know that we actually are a GREAT fit for this because our therapists are trained in working with those who have gone through spiritual abuse and and we have also seen it first hand in the church because we are involved in the church. I went on about other reasons why we are a good fit and she thanked me and told me that she very much so appreciated my explanation. It inspired me, however, to write this blog!
The Ethics around Christian Counseling
It’s true, Fuller Living does advertise as being a Faith Based practice as well as a NON FAITH BASED PRACTICE. The latter part of that last sentence is VERY important. It’s important because at Fuller Living, we believe that it is unethical to even talk about faith and Christianity if a client isn’t the first person to bring it up and talk about it. The reason its unethical is because we shouldn’t be pushing our agenda on clients and if religion and/or Christianity isn’t important to them, then why would we talk about it? Secondly, we always make sure to ask in our intakes how faith and religion are important to a client. We do this so that, going into it, we know what is important to a client. We also don’t believe that it’s ethical for us to be “preaching at” our clients. We help clients discover what part of their faith is important to them. We don’t have the answers and we don’t pretend to. When a client wants answers we point them in the direction of their priest/minister/pastor.
So, then, What is it?
When I think of the clients that I’ve personally have that have sought out Christian Counseling, these are the following things that set their session apart from the other sessions:
1. We may pray if a client asks for it. This means that we open up the session with a prayer typically involving asking the Lord to lead and direct our session to go in the direction he would like for it to go.
2. We have an awareness of the Bible and what it says as well as how it is interpreted by each Christian religion. We don’t claim subjective interpretations as truth, but we are aware of those subjective interpretations. We allow our clients to let us know their interpretation and we help them grow in that area the way they feel called to grow in it.
3. We are aware of what the Bible says about how behaviors can lead to certain destructive patterns and we talk about this in session. For example, the Bible is clear about how our bodies are a temple for the Holy Spirit to dwell in and to take care of it...so, we may talk about the negative effects of, for example, drugs, and how this may tie in with this scripture.
4. A couple of us have our degrees in Biblical Principles and Theology. This again, allows for us to bring this knowledge and perspective in to sessions and have an awareness as to where a client with a Christian belief system is coming from and what is important to them.
5. We are aware of the ins and outs of “the church”. Several of us either are on staff at a church, have been on staff at a church, or/and have grown up in the church. This is helpful when meeting with clients who are in ministry because we are very aware of what a “ministry client” may be going through.
6. We speak “life and encouragement” over clients. We speak “blessings” over clients. Again, we don’t push our agenda, and we are also able to approach clients with the “love of the Lord”, which we really enjoy doing.
To be honest, Christian Counseling with us isn’t a whole lot different than non christian counseling. As the owner, I do feel like it is important to distinguish the difference and also talk about how we offer it and have people on staff who are very well versed in “ministry life”, and also, honestly, we really enjoy meeting with everybody. The perspective we have brings a unique perspective, but we aren’t “set in our ways” and just because the church believes something doesn’t mean that we do. We are aware of those things, but, to put it bluntly, it’s none of our business to decide for you how you interpret a certain Bible verse, but it is our job to help you foster a behavior and a belief that you’ve interpreted from a Bible verse and help you grow in it in the way that you see fit!
If you’re a potential client and you are seeking a Christian therapist, we would ABSOLUTELY LOVE to meet with you! If you’re a potential client and you are seeking non-religious therapy we would ABSOLUTELY LOVE TO MEET WITH YOU AS WELL!
...all are welcome!