Christian Counseling: What’s the Difference?

What’s the difference between Christian counseling and… regular counseling? Is there one? Can someone who isn’t Christian see a Christian therapist?

We’re going to try to answer some of the most commonly asked questions about Christian counseling in this post. Have a question that wasn’t covered here? Leave a comment or send us a message over on the contact page!

What do you have to do to become a Christian counselor?

Christian counseling does not have a regulated description, so a Christian counselor could be a counselor who is a Christian, or it could be a counselor with additional training in Bible and theology in addition to their therapy skills and training. I got my therapy degree from seminary because I believe that theological training is important. I wanted to have in-depth knowledge of Christian beliefs before I advertised myself as a Christian counselor.

Not all Christian counselors have this kind of training. In fact, many churches hire ‘counselors’ who are just kind, empathetic people with no counseling experience or even a degree in therapy. Practitioners in the state of California should have a MFT, PCC, or MSW designation to show they’ve completed a master’s level degree and have training in how to do therapy. Licensed professionals will have L in front of their credential- LMFT, LPCC, or LCSW. Both licensed and prelicensed therapists are capable of providing good therapy, but a prelicensed therapist will be working under the supervision of a licensed clinician.

What about people who aren’t Christian?

Every therapist is able to do appropriate therapy whether you’re Christian or not. We’ll ask you about your religious beliefs during the intake at your first session. If you indicate that you’re not Christian, we’ll use the best possible empirically proven methods to help you meet your mental health goals. If you say you are Christian, we’ll ask you if you want to integrate religious or theological discussion into your sessions using empirically proven methods. You can always change your mind later.

Your therapist should never evangelize to you in session or pressure you about your religious or spiritual beliefs. In fact, that’s against the law. You can file a consumer complaint to the Board of Behavioral Sciences if you think your therapist is doing something illegal or unethical in your sessions.