May is Mental Health Awareness Month. And if you watch or read the news at all, you’ve probably heard that our country is in a bit of a mental health crisis right now. The statistics can be alarming, especially among young people. The suicide rate is significantly higher than it was a decade ago. More than thirty percent of high school students report feeling persistently sad or hopeless, and it often takes more than a decade for people with mental health issues to eventually get treatment.

Jesus and Counseling

At Mercy Multiplied, we have always believed that God is our ultimate healer. Jesus told us He came to heal the sick, bind up the brokenhearted, and proclaim freedom to the captives. We also know from experience that God almost always uses other people in our healing process. God uses skilled physicians who provide medicine or perform surgery to bring physical healing. And when the illness or struggle involves mental and emotional health, God often uses a skilled counselor to ask questions and guide conversations in a process that opens doors to hope and healing. 

Sometimes people who are hurting are reluctant to try counseling. Maybe they don’t want to admit there is a problem or keep telling themselves that whatever is going on isn’t bad enough to seek help. But if someone keeps putting off getting help for a mental health issue until they can’t get out of bed in the morning or until their entire family is unraveling, it may seem nearly impossible to summon the energy and focus to find a counselor. So, it’s very wise to find a good Christian counselor before you desperately need one! Christians often seek out a counselor who is also a Christian because they want faith to be a part of the discussion when they process difficult issues. And that’s important.   

The truth is that most of us go through seasons when we could really benefit from a few sessions with a skillful Christian counselor. A gifted professional can often listen for a few minutes and begin to pick up on what’s going on underneath the thing bothering you at a more surface level. Dealing directly with the root issue of a problem can result in healing and freedom that makes life significantly better, bringing renewed hope and energy.

Finding a Counselor

So how does one find a professional Christian counselor who is a good “fit”? Consider these three suggestions: 

  1. Ask around. Lots of people are seeing counselors these days. You probably have a trusted friend or family member who is seeing a counselor. Ask them if they like their counselor and if they do, find out why. People who are seeing a counselor who is helping them feel better are often happy to share this good news! You might also consider asking your doctor or pastor for a referral. Or you might personally know a counselor who would refer you to another professional they respect. Something to keep in mind is that most good counselors have a waiting list these days. And that’s another reason not to put off looking for one who would best meet your needs.
  2. Ask questions. Many counselors will schedule a consultation session or provide some way to answer your questions about them and their practice. Ask about their scope of practice. Find out what their expertise is, what they enjoy about counseling and what they find challenging. Ask about the processes they use and why. Inquire about how they integrate faith and prayer into counseling. If finances are an issue, ask about insurance coverage, sliding scales or discounted rates for treatment. When you find a counselor who is a potential match for you, schedule a session or two and see how things go. If you do not feel comfortable with the counselor or their answers to your questions, keep looking.  
  3. Be persistent. Don’t give up the search if the first counselor you talk with is not for you. If you live in a rural area or small town, your choices for in-person counseling may be limited. Thank God for video counseling session opportunities! Technology makes it possible for counselors to work remotely with any client who lives in the state where they are licensed. So no matter where you live, you have a much larger pool of counselors to draw from than just those living in your immediate area! And while seeing a counselor on a screen might seem weird at first, it’s pretty amazing how connected you can feel to a counselor onscreen who knows how to ask the right questions that guide a journey to healing.
Christian Counseling

It’s good to know there are different kinds of counselors in the Christian community. From a professional standpoint, true Christian counseling does not claim to heal mental illness with Scripture and prayer alone. Nor does it shy away from spiritual truths that can help someone heal from deep hurts. Counselors who are Christians are trained to walk through the therapeutic process in several ways. They offer various interventions and protocols for the counseling room. Prayer and spiritual discussions may be part of that experience, but there will be more involved in the therapeutic process. Also note that a professional counselor who is also a Christian may not believe and express faith exactly as you do. The counselor is a professional, just as your Christian medical doctor is a professional. 

At Mercy, we want to see people get the resources they need to find the healing and freedom God wants us to discover. For more information on finding a professional Christian counselor, click here. 

Mercy Multiplied offers outpatient counseling free-of-charge for women ages 18 and older in our Center for Wellness and Counseling in St Louis, MO, and for both men and women at our Center for Wellness and Counseling in West Monroe, LA. For more information about these programs, click here. 

For more information about Signs and Symptoms of Life Controlling Issues, click here. 

For information about Mercy’s free-of-charge Residential Programs for women ages 13-32 who are dealing with life-controlling issues, click here.

Mercy Multiplied exists to provide opportunities for all to experience God’s unconditional love, forgiveness, and life-transforming power.  We offer multiple programs and resources online and onsite designed to equip people to live free and stay free in Christ. For more information about the services we offer, click here.

Want more resources? Check out our MercyTalk podcast episode, “Jesus and Counseling…How Can I Have Both?”. For daily inspiration, follow us @MercyMultiplied on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter!