Christian counseling offers benefits beyond the scope of traditional counseling. Because of the focus on the Bible, Christian counselors are able to minister to their clients while providing help for their problems.
Christian counseling is similar to the general field of counseling, in that it handles the same issues as secular counseling, like addiction, grief, abuse, and marriage problems. The goal of Christian counseling is still to help people work through these problems and ultimately live a healthy and happy life. Where Christian counseling differs from secular counseling is in the perspective of the counselor. A Christian counselor believes that the Bible is truth, and offers much wisdom that is applicable to daily life, in issues like marriage, suffering and human nature. Any advice that a Christian counselor may offer is based on biblical concepts. For those who have a strong view of faith, seeing a Christian counselor over a secular counselor can be advantageous. Non-Christian counselors may sometimes offer advice that does not line up with principals in the Bible, and this could be a hindrance for some Christians.
The education requirements for Christian counselors are essentially the same as for secular counselors. Pastors or other members of clergy whose jobs involve offering guidance and counseling may not be held to these same standards, however. Though the requirements vary by state, most require a master’s degree in counseling, followed by some level of experience in the field. In addition to the general counseling curriculum, those hoping to become Christian counselors typically must also take several courses focused on biblical studies and theology. Most Christian universities or seminaries have counseling programs available. A Master of Divinity or Master of Arts in Psychotherapy and Faith are common degree programs for Christian counselors.
The next requirement after education is work experience through internships. There are a variety of internship opportunities available, in general Christian counseling or in a specific field, like family therapy. Internships can last up to two years.
Additionally, potential counselors must also become certified. Certification is offered by many national organizations, like the National Christian Counselors Association. This particular group offers training and licensing, in addition to certification.
Licensing requirements are the same for Christian counselors as secular counselors, although these vary by state. Generally, to become licensed, the counselor must complete a set amount of supervised practice beyond the master’s degree and pass the state licensing exam.
The salary for a Christian counselor varies by state and experience. The general range is from $26,000 to $79,000 annually, with the average being around $40,000. For a pastoral counselor, the average salary is $39,000. Salaries differ based on where the counselor works. In a private practice, the counselor will generally make more money, as opposed to working in a church or other faith-based setting. Those who go on to obtain their Ph.D. also make more than an entry-level counselor; this higher degree achievement results in a salary starting at $41,000. Because Christian counseling is a more specialized field than secular counseling, the salary tends to be slightly lower.
A Christian counselor’s typical day involves sessions with clients. Some counselors may offer group therapy sessions, like grief counseling, and others may only offer individual or family sessions. These sessions, whether they are for groups or individuals, seek to help clients deal with whatever problems they may be facing from a faith-based perspective. The counselor may refer to many teachings or parables from the Bible, particularly those in the New Testament.
Christian counselors can work in several different settings. Some may chose to open their own practice, while others may prefer to work under the leadership of a local church or mega-church. Many churches will offer counseling services to the community at no charge. Many Christian counselors go on to write books, and then are typically sought out to speak at various conferences.
Focus on the Family: Focus on the Family is a ministry dedicated to families. This organization offers help to support marriages and encourage strong family relationships. They offer many classes and regularly provide insightful articles, both for families and for counselors.
Christian Counseling and Education Foundation (CCEF): CCEF regularly publishes articles, books and curriculum on Christian counseling. This organization also holds a national conference every fall, as well as various seminars and conferences throughout the year.
Christian Counseling Resource Directory: The primary function of this page is to help clients get in contact with Christian counselors in their area.
Christian counseling is a great career option for those who believe in the truth of the Bible and want to help people.