Should a Christian
Consult a Counselor?

For some Christians, this question could be a "gray" area.  It is also an area which needs careful consideration and examination.  Several factors come into play and must be weighed before reaching a reasonable conclusion.  In addition, a Christian must understand that the help needed must come only after other steps have not produced the desired results.


Clearly, God's Word, the inspired Holy Bible, is the first and best source of true counsel and advice.  The following passages, spoken over 3,000 years ago, are still true today.

"My soul has been cleaving to the very dust.  Preserve me alive according to your word...  My soul has been sleepless from grief.  Raise me up according to your word.  Remove from me even the false way, and favor me with your own law...  O see my affliction, and rescue me; for I have not forgotten your own law.   Abundant peace belongs to those loving your law, and for them there is no stumbling block."
(PSALMS 119:25, 28, 29, 153, 165)


By turning to the Bible, it is clear that it is a "word of encouragement".  (Hebrews 13:22)  It reveals the name of our true helper, our Heavenly Father.  A song, a melody of Asaph, points to the one "whose name is Jehovah, you alone are the Most High over all the earth."  (Psalms 83:18)  Over 1,000 years later, the Bible writer, Paul, agreed:

"So that we may be of good courage and say: 'Jehovah is my helper; I will not be afraid.  What can man [or woman or a situation, etc.] do to me?" (Hebrews 13:6) The Name of Jehovah is a strong tower.  Into it the righteous runs and is given protection." (Proverbs 18:10)


Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, is referred to in Scripture as "Wonderful Counselor" and "Prince of Peace."  (Isaiah 9:6)  Who is more qualified, and what better Counselor could a Christian have than God's own Son, Jesus Christ, who "is the image of the invisible God"?  (Colossians 1:15)


Additional help for Christians are the spiritual Shepherds, the elders in the Christian Congregation.  They too are a source of encouragement.  (James 5:13-16)  Turn to them and follow their words of wisdom.  (Hebrews 13:7, 17)


Not to be overlooked is the power of prayer.  Our Helper commands every Christian to:

"Persevere in prayer."  (Romans 12:12)
"exert prayer." (Romans 15:30)
"be vigilant with a view to prayer" (1 Peter 4:7)
"pray incessantly" (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

How comforting to know that this Helper, the Heavenly Father, is called the "Hearer of Prayer."  (Psalms 65:2)  These tools are at the Christian's disposal, free of charge, and readily available.


What though if distress and confusion persist despite all this wonderful help? Perhaps it is physical.  A physical problem may lie behind emotional or mental distress.  Treating such a problem has in some cases given relief to the emotionally distraught Christian.  If no physical problem is found, the physician, upon request, may recommend a mental-health professional.  What then?  This decision must be made by the troubled Christian, or if a youth, by the parents.  No other Christian should judge or criticize this decision.  (Romans 14:4; Matthew 7:1-5)


Should a Christian need to choose this direction for relief from mental or emotional distress, care must be taken not to violate sound Biblical principles.  Proverbs 3:21 warns:  "Safeguard practical wisdom and thinking ability."  Just as there are a wide variety of treatment choices for physical healing, there are also different theories and choices in the mental health field.  Some health professionals favor treatment with drugs for biochemical imbalance.  Others may delve into the patient's personal history to find reasons for irregular behavior or painful emotions.  Behavior psychotherapist may try to help the patient learn new behavior patterns.  A Christian should use caution when considering these choices.  Another wise proverb says:

"Anyone inexperienced puts faith in every word, but the shrewd one considers his steps." 
(Proverbs 14:15)

If a Christian feels the need for counseling, even the choice of a professional postgraduate degreed and legally qualified counselor is a critical decision. Of primary concern are the attitude and respect towards Bible-based views.  If the counselor places little or no stock in the Christian stance on morals or other religious convictions, it would be the course of practical wisdom not to seek his or her advice.  Some counselors view any restrictions imposed by Scriptural beliefs as unnecessary and potentially harmful to mental health.  They may approve, even recommend, conduct clearly condemned in the Bible such as marital infidelity or homosexuality.

Christians are now living when "critical times hard to deal with will be here."  (2 Timothy 3:1)  If you as a Christian feel overwhelmed by all this, even after having applied all of the above Scriptural counsel and advice, perhaps it would be wise to consult a mental health professional.  You should scrutinize the qualifications, attitude, and reputation of a counselor as well as the possible effect of recommended treatment.  (see WT 10/15/88; 3/1/90; 9/1/96)

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