Christian Counseling… Is that different than regular counseling? Does bringing Christianity into counseling really have an impact, and if so, why? If these questions have ever crossed your mind when considering your faith at the same time as mental health, you may find your answer here. Prayer is the key.
The goal of professional counseling is to provide clients with tools that help improve mental health, which centers around emotional healing. Increasingly, mental health professionals are accepting that spirituality itself plays an important role in the process of emotional healing. So naturally, including spirituality in counseling is becoming more mainstream. If a client feels that the right next step towards these achievements includes deepening their connection with God, then prayer is the most frequently used stepping stone to reach that goal.
But does prayer actually create real impact in therapy?
Prayer is communication with the person of God, and for Christians, prayer begins with the understanding that God is responsive to human needs. Prayer shows a direct connection to improved mental health. It is shown to decrease anxiety and depression symptoms, and to increase a sense of wellbeing, vigor in life, and overall happiness. Many people wish to include prayer in their treatment because they agree with what is known as the “divine agent assumption,” which views prayer in therapy as an invitation to a Higher Power to play a direct part of the healing process.
How do I include prayer in my therapy?
Let your therapist know if you want to include prayer during your sessions. Prayer in mental health includes the therapist and the client, but it is entirely up to the client. If part of a client’s goal is spiritual development, then prayer is often considered a good next step. When prayer is being used, it may be the client or the therapist who prays, or both together. Consult with your therapist about the manner in which prayer is included, as not everyone may benefit from the same manner of prayer.
Does my therapist believe in prayer?
Feeling safe with your therapist is the number one factor that leads to success in therapy. Many times, clients choose therapists who share a similar foundation to themselves, but no matter the beliefs of either party, the client’s desires surrounding prayer should be respected. Clients should be completely respected, and not be influenced by any stance of their therapist, including a spiritual or religious stance. If you are not sure about what your therapist believes, you are welcome to ask and adjust as needed to get the most out of your therapy, because it is yours!
When should I pray in therapy?
When prayer is used in therapy, it is encouraged that it is only done when prompted and guided by the Spirit of God to do so, much like in everyday prayer. Prayer in therapy is most beneficial when trust is established between the client and therapist, and when the client gives permission to be prayed with. Every client is free to deny prayer at any time.
Is prayer in therapy ever not okay?
If a client needs to be referred to another resource that would be more helpful to them, nothing should substitute that, including prayer. A therapist should also not rely on prayer alone in therapy, especially to avoid dealing with anything serious the client is facing.
A powerful tool
Prayer is most powerful in therapy when it is used at the same time as psychological approaches, and when including God’s presence in therapy is a clearly defined goal of both the client and therapist. If you want to experience how a connection with God can impact your mental health, talk to a Christian therapist today!
- Hannah Causey