It’s considered rude to ask someone if they’ve ever considered seeing a psychologist. Most people squirm at the idea of suggesting counseling to someone else, even a close friend or family member, and even more people absolutely defy the idea of talking with a counselor themselves.
I (oddly enough, considering that I chose to pursue a degree in psychology) was one of those people for a long time.
I think that we, as a society, shrink back from counseling for a number of reasons. We pride ourselves on autonomy, and if autonomy is our highest goal, seeking counsel is regressive. We believe the lie that admitting we need help makes us weak. We think that personal problems should stay personal and that there’s no one out there who could possibly understand what’s going on in the mixed-up corners of our souls anyway.
Those ideas are deep-seated ones, but I’m not quite sure where we got them. Certainly not from the Bible. Today, I’m taking on the question of whether or not Christians should seek counseling. (Spoiler alert: It’s a resounding yes from me.) Take a look at my thoughts below.
BODY, MIND, AND SOUL
It pains me when people express a belief that psychological struggles matter less or are somehow less legitimate than physical illnesses. But as much as it pains me, I’m guilty of it. I’ve always been one to call and make a doctor’s appointment if I think there’s the slightest chance I might be developing a sore throat, but for years, I resisted the idea of going to counseling even during seasons in which I felt entrenched in anxiety and sadness. I resisted the idea of going to counseling because I thought I didn’t really need it – that my anxiety was just because I was cold in faith, and that my sadness was just a symptom of a soon-to-pass funk.
Dear friends in Christ, we are body, mind, and soul creatures. You cannot do what I did and treat every little physical upset while ignoring a distressed heart and mind. The condition of your soul and mind matter just as much, and arguably more, than the condition of your body. Remember that that is not a mistake. That is how God designed you. If you need assistance in caring for your heart and mind, seek it. There is no shame in obtaining counsel.
“Let a wise person listen and increase learning, and let a discerning person obtain guidance…” Proverbs 1:5.
WE WEREN’T MADE TO BE ISLANDS
According to the creation account in Genesis, God didn’t let Adam stay lonely for long. In Genesis 2:18, God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper corresponding to him.” After God formed Eve from Adam’s rib, Adam joyfully exclaimed, “This one, at last, is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh!” (Genesis 2:23), expressing that it was not only his Creator Who had realized that it was not good for him to be alone.
We were never intended to be islands. God created community and encourages us to bear one another’s burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2). The concept of counseling may shatter our categories of independence, strength, and competence, but I don’t think it’s too far of a stretch to say that it’s something our God smiles upon and blesses.
“Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors, there is safety.” Proverbs 11:14.
I think counseling can benefit anybody who is willing to attend, but the way I see it, Christians can benefit the most from the experience. I think this because as believers, we have the unique ability to redefine counseling. For the Christian, counseling ceases to be this strange, abstract idea with a negative connotation and instead becomes something beautiful. Counseling becomes discipleship, wisdom sharing, and an avenue for Christ-driven encouragement.
Dr. Rod Mays from Reformed Theological Seminary does a more eloquent job of explaining this concept than I ever could. Click here to watch his two-minute explanation of why Christians need counseling.
A CLOSING NOTE
For quite some time, I believed that counseling was only for people who had lost their will to live or for those who were so paralyzed by anxiety that they couldn’t even get out of bed in the morning or for someone dealing with some equally drastic and horrible thing.
If that is what you believe today, I’m here to tell you that that is a lie. That is something the adversary wants you to believe so that you go on in the darkness of worry, guilt, fear, and shame. Don’t believe it any longer. I benefitted from counseling when I never thought I would. You, dear one, just may benefit from it also.