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How do you find a Christian counselor?

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After an earlier blog post on the 10 decisions before going to a counselor, a blog reader asked “now, do you have the 10 steps to finding a trusted counselor?”   The answer: No I don’t. In fact, I’ve often struggled to help staff and friends to find a counselor they could trust to help the…
By Seth Barnes
After an earlier blog post on the 10 decisions before going to a counselor, a blog reader asked “now, do you have the 10 steps to finding a trusted counselor?”
 
The answer: No I don’t. In fact, I’ve often struggled to help staff and friends to find a counselor they could trust to help them work through a difficult problem. Sometimes you need a counselor with a specific specialty and they just don’t exist in the area. Whatever your issue, finding a counselor you can trust can be difficult. So, what do you do?
 
Family Life is a ministry that knows something about the matter. I found this post on their web site – Stephanie Pridgen helped me edit it down and excerpt part of it:
Look for someone who:

    •.    can provide evidence of solid biblical and counseling training and experience;
    •.    loves people, perseveres through tough times, and is confident that Jesus works in His people;

    •.    believes that the Bible, God’s Word, is sufficient for providing wisdom and direction for dealing with life’s  
          issues (2 Peter 1:2-4; Hebrews 4:12; 2 Timothy 3:16-17); and

    •.    gives clear evidence of a personal, passionate relationship with Jesus Christ.
 
Steps to Take

1. Ask God for wisdom to make the right decisions as you seek a biblical counselor. God wants you whole more than you even desire to be whole. His guidance is essential to your healing and He promises wisdom if you ask Him in faith (James 1:5-8). His leadership is perfect. Allow Him to direct your steps (Psalm 23, Proverbs 16:3 and Philippians 4:6-9).
 

2. Seek counsel from your church. God has placed you in a community of believers and there is wisdom in a multitude of counselors (Proverbs 11:14, 15:22, 24:6). It is important to first seek the counsel of your pastor (Hebrews 13:17) and other church leaders because God has placed them in a position to give direction and care to the body of Christ of which you are a part.
You may also want to talk with mature, trusted believers who have been helped by Christian counseling. They may be able to give you recommendations  of counselors to prayerfully consider.

If you do not belong to a church, one of the most important steps in this process may be finding a local body of believers to partner with. “One reason many people face problems in their families is because they lack the right biblical information, encouragement, and modeling to help them succeed.”
 
3. Seek outside counsel, if necessary. If wise, biblically-sound counsel is unavailable in the current leadership of a church or if you are not part of a church, look for “a qualified and experienced biblical counselor who can help you.” FamilyLife offers these lists of national and regional counseling organizations.
 

4. Consider whether you need to start with conflict coaching. Sometimes the lines of communication are so shattered between individuals that constructive discussion can not take place. If this is the case, you may need a trained conflict counselor to help reestablish communication so it is possible to move forward with counseling. For more on conflict coaching, click here.

Interviewing Prospective Counselors
If possible on the phone before an appointment, or during your first meeting, ask the counselor questions to help you make an informed decision. Then seek the counsel of a pastor, elder or trusted friend to help you prayerful consider the counselor’s answers in light of God’s Word.

1. What is your approach to understanding people’s problems and helping them
grow and change through counseling? Please describe this process.
2. What are some books or other resources that you recommend on a regular
basis or that have most influenced you in your approach to counseling?
3. Are you a Christian? How does your faith affect your view and practice of
counseling?
4. Do you bring Christian truth into your counseling practice? How? What
role does the Scripture play?
5. Do you pray with those you counsel?
6. Do you go to church? If so, where and how long have you been a member?
7. What is your educational and professional background? What role does it
play?
8. Are you married? Do you have children? Have you ever been divorced? How does your marriage and family situation affect how you counsel people?

Remember that the counseling process is interactive and founded in trust. Taking the time on the front end to find a Christian counselor you believe will be “wise, biblical, loving and faithful in your interaction” will be worth the effort.

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