Faith Based Counseling

Studies show that people prefer faith based counseling to share their religious beliefs and support, rather than challenge, their faith. Religious people often complain that secular therapists see their faith as a problem or a symptom, rather than as a conviction to be respected and incorporated into the therapeutic dialogue, a concern that is especially pronounced among the elderly and twentysomethings. According to a nationwide survey by the American Association of Pastoral Counselors (AAPC), 83 percent of Americans believe their spiritual faith and religious beliefs are closely tied to their state of mental and emotional health. Three-fourths say it’s important for them to see a professional counselor who integrates their values and beliefs into the counseling process.

Does Faith Based Counseling Help?

Faith-based counselling can help with:

  • Spiritual and religious concerns
  • Interpersonal challenges (e.g., marriage, couple, or family issues)
  • Finding meaning and purpose
  • Making important life decisions
  • Improving and maintaining physical, emotional, and spiritual health
  • Reducing distress and symptoms caused by mental illness
  • Providing a sense of belonging and connection
  • Offering hope

Is Faith-Based Counseling Effective?

While spirituality and religiosity have been shown to be related to better quality of life, faster remission from depression, enhanced coping abilities, and increased sense of purpose and meaning in life, there is currently a scarcity of research focusing specifically on effectiveness of faith-based counseling and religious or spiritual interventions. The limited research available does, however, indicate that faith-based counseling shows promise in promoting the following outcomes:

What Is Unique About Therapist’s Approach?

Shared faith and beliefs can provide a foundation for connection and rapport with your therapist that make a difference in managing your emotional and mental health. Finding a therapist that shares your belief system may be the most important criterion you have for counseling.

Faith-based therapy often addresses many of the same concerns as other types of counseling, such as emotions, patterns of thinking and relating to other people. However, this therapeutic approach also allows you to process specific spiritual issues related to your emotional and behavioral symptoms in sessions with another person of faith.

How your therapist incorporates spiritual beliefs into your counseling experience may vary. You determine how much and in what way to incorporate spiritual beliefs into your therapy. However, your faith-based counseling session will include several unique characteristics, such as:

  • Understanding and honoring your faith commitment throughout the treatment process.
  • Integrating the mental, emotional, relational and spiritual aspects of care to help the whole person.
  • Incorporating Scripture or prayer based on your preference.

3 Benefits of Faith-Based Counseling

Shared Faith and Beliefs Provide a Strong Foundation for Connection and Rapport

The therapeutic relationship is of vital importance in the counseling process. It is essential that the counselor provides a safe, open, and non-judgmental atmosphere where the client feels at ease. This allows the person to be able to openly explore and discuss his/her thoughts, beliefs, feelings and behaviors.

Individuals, couples or families who have strong religious or spiritual beliefs feel more at ease in a faith-based counseling setting.

Spiritual and religious beliefs are often handed-down belief systems that may be called into question. Having a counselor to talk to who shares those beliefs can make this process less painful.

Holistic Treatment

Faith-based counseling for depression and anxiety provides holistic treatment that integrates the mental, relational, emotional, and spiritual aspects of care.

Through faith-based counseling, you can better understand yourself, your connection to God (or Higher Power of your understanding), and your purpose within the world around you.

Spiritual beliefs are a Foundation for Coping

Spirituality is generally considered to be broader than any religion one might practice. It takes into account the cognitive and philosophic areas of thought as well as aspects of emotions and behavior.

People who gain strength from their spiritual faith may find it difficult to achieve progress and healing in counseling when unable to address and incorporate their spiritual beliefs and practices.

Spiritual beliefs and practices provide a strong underpinning for a person’s emotions, patterns of thinking, coping, behaving, and relating to others. Combining practical tasks and skills with the exploration of an individual’s spirituality can foster exciting growth and freedom.

Whichever type of counseling you choose, be sure you feel comfortable and safe with your counselor. The more you can open up and fully address your symptoms and concerns, the more helpful the services will be!