Why Christians can be reluctant to come to therapy
Everyone struggles from time to time. Whether it is relationship difficulties, anxiety, depression or even more serious mental health issues, it’s common across the board for people to have seasons in which they could use an objective, knowledgeable ear to walk with them through the difficulties of life.
And yet we see segments of our population reluctant to get this help and shying away from coming to therapy to seek mental and emotional health.
Mental health issues are real problems.
And we are seeing more and more of them every day.
The last year has been a difficult time for many of us. Whether it was the isolation of quarantine, or the anxiety of disease, many have struggled with mental health issues in new ways, and some have felt the entangling bands of depression, anxiety and stress for the first time.
And yet, many people feel a stigma about coming to therapy for help, and sadly, many of these people are Christians.
As believers, we believe God can heal. We believe He makes all things new in His time. We believe He has a plan for our lives and that nothing is too hard for Him. We believe in miracles.
But we also believe that God has designated others to help Him achieve His purposes, and that the wisdom of trained individuals can help us heal. We think the Bible is pretty clear about God’s ability to heal - time and time again He proves that He can, and will, heal. But generally, people have to ask. Imagine if the blind man refused to go to Jesus to be healed … he would have lived the rest of his life without sight. God certainly can heal.
Go to Him first.
But come to therapy second.
We are grateful that God uses us every day to help Christians – and many others – to find emotional, relational and mental health and healing. If God is prompting you to seek more help, come to us.
What are some other reasons Christians shy away from coming for therapy?
Like everyone, Christians (and many potential new patients) are in denial of the consequences of their mental health issues. It’s easy to assume that the only person affected is yourself, but in fact, your family, coworkers and friends are also certainly impacted. When you don’t see the problem, it’s hard to ask for help, from God or from a therapist. The first step in getting healing is to admit you need it. If those around you think you need help, possibly you do.
Some feel that they can’t get help because there are no therapists who practice near them. This can be especially problematic in more rural, remote or farming communities. One of the biggest reasons Sanctuary Christian Counseling has online services available is to serve these people. Online therapy by our qualified therapists can remove the barrier of distance and help people get the help they need. Marriage therapy, as well as child, teen and adult therapies, are available online through our client-friendly and HIPAA-compliant, secure video platform.
Fear is another factor. Although we are repeatedly told to “Be strong and courageous” in Scripture, fear is often a reason Christians don’t come to therapy. The idea of talking to a stranger about your most intimate issues can be intimidating. You might fear that you won’t get better, or conversely, that you will get better and not know how to handle that. We are experts in helping you feel better about therapy – and we want you to know that we hold it as a sacred trust to keep your personal information, even your deepest, darkest secrets confidential*** -- in fact, we are even required by law to do just that. We pride ourselves for “over-the-top” confidentiality at Sanctuary, and we assure you we are safe, warm, and easy to talk to.
Unfortunately, in the Christian community, there has been a stigma about getting help for mental health issues for years. Although this is certainly lifting, many people resist getting therapy because they fear what other Christians will think – that they will be perceived as having little faith, and that they will be ostracized for their issues. In general, the opposite seems to be true, with churches and other believers increasingly supporting mental health efforts. Quite frequently people who enter therapy find other Christians already there – even their pastor! Mental health is really that important.
Shame is another factor. People who struggle with physical issues sometimes feel shame over their conditions, particularly if they are attached to poor life choices (or they appear to be). It is doubly true with mental health conditions. There’s a perception in the Christian community that everything can be healed by prayer alone, and those who seek the help of others for healing are lacking in faith. I often use the illustration – if you had a broken leg, you would deal with it. What makes it different if you have a mental or emotional brokenness? Shouldn’t you also deal with that? Christians who feel shame should remember that is not of God, and He has gifted Christian therapists with the ability to walk with you through your tough times.
Many also fear that they will not be able to find a therapist that shares their values and beliefs, and that their therapist will advocate for things with which they don’t agree. This can certainly be an issue. But it can be fixed by choosing a team of Christian therapists such as Sanctuary Christian Counseling to walk with you on your therapy journey. We will interact with you and your faith in your therapy, if that’s your wish, praying and giving you Biblical principles you can use to heal (we will also not do that if that is what you direct).
The journey to healing begins with a first step, and fear, shame, distance, stigmas, pride and denial should not dog your first steps toward mental health. Be strong and courageous and call us today to get started on your best life.
At Sanctuary Christian Counseling we help grieving individuals, distressed kids and teens and couples in conflict find peace, solutions and connection. We are located physically in Shippensburg, PA, and have face-to-face services there, but are also online for those who live in other areas of Pennsylvania.
Sanctuary Christian Counseling
9974 Molly Pitcher Highway, Suite 4
Shippensburg, PA 17257