Can anyone really help me?

You've probably heard the joke about how many psychologists it takes to change a light bulb; "just one, but it has to want to be changed." Well, the truth is: the very best counselor cannot change your life apart from your desire and cooperation. We are like the coaches and trainers in sports: we do not play the game for you; we help you play it better.

Remember too, even the most gifted athletes rely on coaches and trainers. This is not a sign of weakness but of wisdom. They need the help of people with more objectivity and expertise. So it is with us in this serious "game" of life. It is not a shame to seek help when life is not going well. If you have been trying to work things out on your own for a while, and (down inside you know) you're really not making progress, please humble yourself and let God lead you to the help you need!

As you seek help, beware of becoming intimidated by the professionals. Take their counsel seriously; but remember, none of us is God. At very best, “we know in part and we prophesy in part” (1Cor 13:9). No credentials or spiritual status alters this fact. Prepare to pray and discern the will of God. A good and godly counselor may be able to supply knowledge, insight, perspective, new experiences and relational skills that you have not attained on your own. Throughout your therapy, you should at least sense in your own heart that what you are being led to do is helping. Don't just take someone else's word. Trusting a counselor is essential, but you need not be gullible.

Expect the experts to make sense to you. Feel free to ask questions about the kind of counseling offered, the counselor's beliefs, training received, and experience in the particular area of concern to you. Our ministry offers a free first session wherein we go over some orientation materials, which explain our ministry’s operation. You actually meet with your counselor and discuss your situation so that the counselor can make a personal assessment and therapeutic recommendations. You also get the chance to experience relating with the helper, which we view as very important.

What kind of credentials should you expect a competent helper to hold? The choice is really up to you. A credential is a document designed to support the credibility of its owner – that is, to offer reason that the one holding the credential should be trusted in a particular way.
Across the nation over the past couple of decades, states have enacted legislation to license those who would counsel. Under the authority of the State, licensing boards have been created to establish the professional standards for each type of license. Fortunately, in most states where counselor licensing has been enacted, exemptions from licensure were written into the law to protect people like us who operate with church-based credentials.

There is certainly nothing wrong with getting counseling from someone who is licensed by the State; many Christians are. Still, you should know that no state licenses “Christian counselors”; they merely license counselors. Thus, what is sometimes billed as “Christian counseling” only means a Christian is offering services to a Christian market – and this from a secular worldview and/or new age spirituality in which he/she received training. Personal and relational problems often intersect with moral and/or spiritual issues. At such intersections, we believe you are wise to have your life in the care of someone with a biblical worldview, a solid devotion to the Lord Jesus, and real dependence upon the Spirit of God in his/her work. The bottom line is this: In your attempt to find someone to help, you should seek someone whose qualifications satisfy you.

Consider this insightful and professionally honest quotation from M. Scott Peck's popular book, The Road Less Traveled: "A therapist's ability bears very little relationship to any credentials he or she might have. Love and courage and wisdom cannot be certified by academic degrees. For instance, ‘board certified’ psychiatrists, the therapists with the most credentials, undergo sufficiently rigorous training so that one can be relatively certain of not falling into the hands of a charlatan. But a psychiatrist is not necessarily any better a therapist than a psychologist, a social worker or a minister -- or even as good. Indeed two of the very greatest therapists I know have never even graduated from college. ... Word of mouth is often the best way to get started on your search for a [counselor]." (pg. 315)

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