As a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist at Seattle Christian Counseling, I occasionally come across married couples who wonder what makes the Christian counseling process unique. Their questions help to foster a rich discussion in which we are able to address what truly sets work with a Christian counselor apart from other forms of treatment that may not hold to this particular framework. This article addresses these differences and aims to provide you with a clear framework for Christian based marriage counseling.
A Focus on the Heart and Mind
Marriage counseling that is approached from a Christian or biblical framework accounts for what spouses are experiencing in their heart and mind. It encourages and challenges the partners to think through their attitudes, motivations, and perspectives in a thoughtful manner that enables them to determine ways to closely align those elements with their Christian faith. This approach recognizes that without a couple first experiencing a change of heart, and making the necessary effort to live out their faith on a daily basis (such as seen in the mandate to love your neighbor as yourself), any strategies that are presented to help them reduce conflict will ultimately fail.
Christian Based Marriage Counseling Tackles the Hard Questions
It is not uncommon for the couples I work with to enter the counseling office with hard questions regarding their faith in God. Some spouses are angry with God for allowing them to experience the emotional pain or trauma they’ve regularly dealt with in their marriage. They struggle to understand how a loving God can allow them to have so much pain in their lives.
Others will often convey having a desire to grow in their faith, after feeling that it has lain dormant for a period of time. They want to see their passion to serve God rekindled, to see their hearts transformed, and to have a relationship with their husband or wife that is far better than it ever was before.
These are only brief examples of what married couples may bring into the counseling space. However, the Christian marital process creates an environment of safety that allows for an open dialogue on such issues or questions. That being said, it does not involve harsh judgements or statements that point to particular scriptures in order to shame a client into doing “better.” To do so would be contrary to the unending love and grace given by God to all humankind, despite our sin and imperfections.
Clinical and Biblical Elements in Christian Marriage Counseling
One of the most important aspects of Christian based marriage counseling is the unique merging of sound clinical and biblical approaches to treatment. No one element is cast aside at the expense of the other. Rather, each component is viewed as a strong complement to the other, enabling each married couple to benefit from the depth of knowledge provided by the fields of counseling and psychology, and from the freedom of knowing that their Christian faith is seen as an integral part of marital healing, restoration, and change.
Starting the Christian Counseling Process
I have seen many married couples benefit from the Christian counseling process. If you are interested and would like more information on how you and your spouse can start working with a Christian counselor.
“Bench in Autumn,” courtesy of Davide Ragusa, Unsplash.com CC0 Public Domain License; “Autumn Leaves,” courtesy of Curtis Mac Newton, Unsplash.com CC0 Public Domain License