You’re feeling depressed, but a chat with your pastor doesn’t seem to be helping. You’re secretly drinking too much and – despite asking for strength to resist temptation – you still uncork too many bottles, and then berate yourself for not having enough willpower.
You feel a same-sex attraction or lust after someone who can’t have – but the extra hours you spend reading testimonies and scripture has yet to make a dent in how you feel. Worst of all? –You feel so alone. So weak.
Could therapy be a solution? Are there therapists with an intimate knowledge of the needs of the faith-based community? The answer is yes!
Thankfully, new groups of therapy providers – such as the online therapy service Faithful Counseling – who are sensitive to the counseling needs of Christians have devoted themselves to providing compassionate, effective and affordable care. You should read more about it here when you can, but for now, let’s review seven simple tips for finding someone for you.
Tip one is to always remember you’re never alone. But it takes humility to be willing to ask for help. You’re not weak; you’re human. Of course, prayer works, and of course God answers prayers – but we all know his ways are not our ways, as “The Blessing of Unanswered Prayers”, a beautiful poem attributed to a Civil War soldier reminds us so eloquently:
“I asked for strength that I might achieve; I was made weak that I might learn humbly to obey.
I asked for riches that I might be happy; I was given poverty that I might be wise.
I asked for power and the praise of men; I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God.
I got nothing that I had asked for, but everything that I had hoped for.
Almost despite myself my unspoken prayers were answered; I am, among all men, most richly blessed.”
Tip two is to start off by asking the therapist the right questions so that you feel completely comfortable with him or her. You have been given your cross to bear for a reason. You have been chosen to fight this good fight for a purpose. You have been specifically selected to run this race – and it might be a marathon.
But you have not been asked to do it alone. Does this person share your views? Are they unjudgmental and understanding to the degree that you’ll be willing to genuinely open up to them?
Tip three is deciding on the age, gender and religion of the therapist. Do they have the same core beliefs that you do? Don’t brush off concerns about age or gender; you’re not being picky, you’re being discerning.
Tip four is to take a good look at their credentials. Your pastor or minister may be a sincere woman or man of God, but they may lack the skills needed to gently probe and elicit answers that help you see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Or they may simply not be the person God has chosen to coach you through this wilderness. For example, apart from faith, does the person have an understanding of addiction or education related to the trial you’re experiencing?
Tip five is being willing to try someone else if – after a few first meets – you begin to suspect this person isn’t the one for you. Listen to that “still, small voice” and don’t see the need for a change as a failure, but rather as a stepping stone.
Tip six is sweet and short and a bit more down to earth: Ask up front about costs. Are installment payments an option? Does your insurance cover this? Knowing the financial details will likely relax you and put you in a more receptive mood.
Tip seven is to let go and let God. While nothing matches the King James Version of the Bible for elegance and poetry, another translation of 1 Corinthians 10:13 spells out the idea in more contemporary terms: “There is no temptation, and no trial enticing to sin that isn’t common to man.
But God is faithful – to His Word and to His compassionate nature – and He can be trusted to never allow you to be tempted, tried, or assayed beyond your ability and strength of resistance and your power to endure. With every temptation, God will always provide an escape.” – Amplified Bible, 2020 Unauthorized Revised Youth Edition.
You have not been called on to suffer in silence. There are people who are trained to listen and – more importantly – help you hear yourself. Some think of therapy as a bunch of psycho-babble with a large bill at the end. With traditional therapy that can sometimes be the case.
What’s missing from “ordinary” therapy is a key component: an understanding of faith; and that’s where these services are different.