When you need help, there are many therapists close to you who you can turn to, and your choice can depend on many factors in your life, including your faith. If you are religious, are interested in religion, or are seeking a perspective different from your own if you’re not religious, you may turn to religious therapy.
If you are more science-minded, or not a member of the faith, and want someone who can give you information and tips that can apply to virtually anyone, you may choose to go to secular therapy. In this post, we shall discuss the differences between the two.
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Therapy Differences: What Is Christian Therapy And Secular Counseling?
Christian therapy is therapy through a Biblical lens, while secular counseling typically should not have any religious bias and instead follows modern psychology.
Both types of therapy have a similar goal: they want to help an individual overcome any challenges or emotional distress they may be facing in their life, and both kinds of therapists should be near you. If they are experiencing any mental health concerns, both types of therapists want to help the person overcome those difficulties. If the client has relationship issues, both therapists want to help resolve their issues, improve their relationship, or learn how to break away from that person if that is agreed upon as the healthiest route. If an individual wants to meet their goals, both therapists can help develop an effective plan to do so.
Both types of therapists are designed to help the person improve their overall well-being, and each therapist is educated within the field of therapy. Both Christian and secular therapists may use similar techniques and therapies in their therapy sessions.
However, when it comes to the differences, Christian therapists look at many of an individual’s issues through the Bible's lens. They believe that the Bible has the answers to many of life's problems. From wisdom offered in Proverbs to relating the individual's difficulties to the characters in the Bible, it puts life into perspective through a Christian point of view.
Meanwhile, secular counseling does not offer any religious bias, unless this is desired by the client. A secular therapist may use an individual’s religion as a talking point; however, a secular therapist usually won’t promote any religious beliefs to their patient. For non-Christians, or people who aren't religious, Christian counseling may not seem beneficial, but Christian counseling can help those who are Christian or have a strong faith. From common mental health conditions, like anxiety and depression, issues in relationships or substance misuse, or spiritual issues like losing one's faith, Christian counseling offers many services.
There is no right choice when it comes to which type of therapist you pick, and both secular and Christian therapy may be able to help you overcome any issues you may be facing. Some individuals may find value in both Christian and secular therapy. For the spiritual side, you may like what the Christian therapist teaches you, and for the more scientific side of you, you may enjoy hearing about the psychology of the brain and how you can change your thinking.
Other Differences Between Religious Therapy And Secular Therapy By You
Let's discuss other differences between Christian and secular counseling, starting with education.
For both Christian and secular therapists, a master's degree is typically required. For a secular therapist, social work or psychology classes and certifications are also needed. For a Christian therapist, they also need to have Biblical and Christian knowledge to be an effective therapist, as well as roots in psychological principles and knowledge.
Near and far, different licenses are required to be either a Christian or secular therapist depending on the state that one reside in. Christian therapist-specific licenses are available in six states. Arkansas, Kentucky, Maine, New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Tennessee allow you to get a unique license. Every other state requires you to get the same license as any other mental health therapist, but many do offer Christian-focused therapy degrees. To get a license to become a therapist, an individual needs to take an exam after obtaining the necessary degree(s), and it can vary depending on which state you choose to practice in.
The salary for counseling will vary depending on where you practice, among other factors. This depends on the location that the therapist is practicing in, whether they own their own practice or operate out of an existing office near you, their experience level, and other factors.
Christian Therapists Near You
Both sectors of counseling often have different venues of operation. Both therapists can operate in their private offices and hospitals near you. A Christian therapist may also operate in churches, Christian schools, funeral homes, homeless shelters, and adoption agencies. A secular therapist may operate in nursing homes, outpatient care, or government offices. As the government has separation of church and state, many Christian therapists practice in private sector organizations while you may find that secular therapists may work in government sectors as well as private.
Both forms of therapists may offer similar therapies such as relationship therapy, therapies for mental health concerns, and substance misuse, among other things. Christian therapy may often offer more family-based therapy and premarital counseling, while secular therapy may also offer deeper psychiatric counseling. These kinds of treatment are likely available near you.
When it comes to how each therapist treats concerns, a Christian therapist may look to the Bible for answers and may work on improving the individual relationship with God, if that is desired by the client and the agreed-upon treatment plan.
For secular counseling, there is often more concentration on the individual. While many problems have similar roots, each situation and individual are different, and the therapist may have to try many different techniques to find the solution that best fits them.
Meanwhile, Christian therapists may be more monolithic. While individualism is still a factor, some therapists of the Christian faith believe that all our problems come from sin or the lack of belief in God. The solution can be to put more faith in your life and live for God. Some Christian therapists may place emphasis on both the science of psychology as well as faith in God; again, this depends on both the individual therapist and client.
One theme of Christian counseling vs. secular counseling is that of man and God. Christian counseling believes that God is the final authority and that humans trying to resolve their issues will need the help of God. Christian therapists often believe you need to submit yourself to God, and He can help guide you to wherever you need to go. A Christian therapist may believe that your problems are due to sin and/or not being connected with God, and their teachings will likely be based on this premise.
Secular therapists tend to believe that every individual has a will and responsibility to overcome any challenges they may face. If you do have a particular faith, a secular therapist will typically respect that; however, they won’t typically make their counseling advice based on faith unless they feel comfortable with doing so, have experience, and it is agreed upon by both of you.
Which Is More Effective?
When it comes to Christianity, their evidence tends to come from testimonials, like people who have converted or have taken part in Christian counseling and have stories to confirm its success. Meanwhile, secular counseling is more scientific and requires heavier research. Due to a lack of data, it can be hard to figure out whether faith-based counseling (like Christian counseling) is more effective that secular counseling. For many, the power of faith is not measured by science or studies; it's a feeling you can't explain and won't likely appreciate until you've experienced it firsthand.
To debate what is more effective is really dependent on the individual needs of a person. Everyone is different, and regardless of data (or the lack thereof), what is effective for one person may not be for another, and vice-versa. Someone with a strong faith may benefit from Christian counseling, while someone who isn't as religious may benefit from secular counseling. Sometimes, a little bit of both may be needed for some individuals.
However, it’s important not to judge someone based on what type of therapist they use. Every individual in different, has different needs, and may find different forms of therapy effective for them.
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If you're experiencing any difficulties or mental health concerns, it may be beneficial to seek support from a licensed therapist near you or online. They can provide tools and strategies to help you overcome any concerns you may have and improve your overall wellbeing. Sometimes, therapy comes in the form of a Christian therapist or a secular therapist. If you’re unsure of which type of therapist near you to choose, a convenient and affordable solution may be online counseling.