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Choosing a Counselor
As a Christian, you and/or others may have a negative viewpoint about receiving professional help. You may feel that asking for help means that you are weak or that you lack faith in God to heal you. This is just the contrary. When going through a challenging season in your life, you may need the guidance from others to help you heal.
When making the decision to seek professional help, there are some important questions that need to be considered in order to receive approriate service.
Identify You Needs and Resources
The Individual's Needs -
- How severe is the problem?
- Is it life threathening?
- Is the individual motivated to get help?
The Individual's Resources -
- The person's finances, medical insurance, time, their family and other support systems all need to be considered.
The Church's Resouces -
- Types of counseling that the church offers, what support groups they have, as well as funds to assist in paying for professional counseling all need to be considered.
The Community's Resources -
- What resources are available in the community?
- Are there competent counselors and psychiatrists available?
- In addition are there community mental health services that are accessible to this person?
Understand the Counseling Role
Pastoral Counselors - Most of these people are ordained ministers with full masters or doctoral training, with additional training and experience in counseling.
Support Groups - These groups are playing a vital role in meeting some of the practical needs of people. These sessions discuss issues, which include addictions, divorce recovery, etc. The group itself becomes a critical source of support for many of its members.
Professional Counselors - These professional clinicians are qualified due to their education, experience, licensure and certification.
Differing Professional Counselors
Licensed Social Workers (LCSW, LCSW-C, LGSW ) - These individuals have earned a master's degree in social work (MSW) or behavioral science. They are required to take a state exam, have a certain amount of clinical experience and supervision.
Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC) - These individuals generally have earned a master's degree (MA, MS, M.Ed). They have completed 2000 hours of supervised counseling experience and have passed a state exam.
Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFT) - These professionals usually hold a master's degree and specialize in assisting families and individuals overcome relational problems. This license usually requires two years of supervised experience after earning one's degree.
Licensed Clinical Psychologists (LCP) - These individuals have a doctoral level of education (Ph.D, Psy.D, or Ed.D) and specialize in diagnosis, research, and applied counseling.
Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselors (LCADC) - These counselors have a bachelor's or master's degree in chemical dependency. Most of these counselors use 12-Step programming.
Choosing a counselor is an important decision to make. If you feel uncomfortable meeting with someone you do not know, request a phone interview. Ask questions such as: How do you integrate Biblical truths into your counseling? Do you pray with clients? Do you offer phone counseling?
When seeking professional help it’s important that you feel comfortable so that you may be open to have life changing sessions.