The intersection of faith and therapy ... how does that work?
At Sanctuary Christian Counseling, we are often asked just what makes us Christian therapists, as opposed to therapists who happen to personally be Christians. It’s a tough and somewhat complicated question.
Some therapists are Christians who happen to practice therapy. Some are Christians who practice secular therapy.
We are personally Christians who practice Christian therapy, although, as you will see, sometimes we don’t, when that serves our clients best.
Here are some of our thoughts about being Christians who are professional therapists and professional therapists who are practicing Christians ...
· Different people define Christianity in different ways. The ways that people practice their faith can be as different as the people themselves, and we try to meet each client where they are in their journey and help them to understand themselves and God better, if that is something they are okay with. Sometimes that is introducing them to God, sometimes processing a troublesome theological concept, sometimes helping them deepen the faith they already have. And sometimes it’s leaving God out of the conversation altogether, if that’s what the client needs.
· Mostly the therapists at Sanctuary come to the process of therapy with a Christian worldview – there is one God, who made humans in His Image and who is constantly working to make the world whole and redeemed. We understand each person to be of infinite worth, and that somehow, we therapists fit in God’s plan for healing.
· We are generally intentional about practicing professional therapy through a Christian lens – at least when that is what our client is wanting. Although many of our clients are practicing Christians, not all are, and we are bound by their needs, goals and comfort levels.
· Likewise, we want to make all people comfortable at Sanctuary, so that they can benefit from our therapeutic skills. This includes those who profess a faith of any sort and those who do not, or who have been wounded by religion in some way.
· We never force or require belief on our clients – that would be unethical and unprofessional – but we do ask about faith at the onset of therapy and make that a focus of therapy for those who want it. In our culture, faith of all stripes is an important component of mental health. However, we want to allow those of our clients who don’t see faith as integral to their healing to just benefit from our clinical skills, and not be forced into a religious mold.
· We are blessed to work in a Christian therapy group that allows us to look at this important topic and make it a focus of therapy if needed by our clients. It can have great impact on their healing journey. We love when we can bring this important dimension into our clinical therapy!
· We are public about our own faith, and we find that draws some people to us, as it repels others. Many people make assumptions about what the label “Christian” means and sometimes those labels are not very accurate. We value questions and are always glad to explain the intersectionality of faith and therapy to those who ask.
· Many of us have advanced training not just in therapy and therapeutic practices, but also in the Bible and Christian practices.
· We generally try to be authentic in all aspects of our lives – both personal and professional. I often say that, while in the therapy session I outwardly do what makes the client feel the most comfortable spiritually, inside myself (and privately), I frequently rely on God’s direction and help. This is a nearly invisible way that our faith and professionalism intersect. If invited, we often pray for clients before, during or after a session, or on our own, and all of us rely on God as a source of wisdom and insight, adding Scripture, devotions or other spiritual practices to our sessions if appropriate.
· We are glad to be transparent about how we interact with faith and therapy but are determined to give each client the best of our training, knowledge, skill and presence, regardless of their desire to have an openly Christian approach to therapy or not.
Integrating faith in psychotherapy can be very beneficial to help clients find purpose and meaning in their lives and relationships, and it’s something that we at Sanctuary Christian Counseling can provide, always understanding that the client and their wishes, comfort and goals are paramount. We believe God both desires and helps us work towards healing and those who can bring faith to bear on their issues will experience great joy and success but we also hold space for those on a different path.
At Sanctuary Christian Counseling we help grieving individuals, distressed kids and teens and couples in conflict find peace, solutions and connection.
Sanctuary Christian Counseling
9974 Molly Pitcher Highway, Suite 4
Shippensburg, PA 17257