Short answer: yes. Long answer: maybe, and here’s why.
In popular culture today, people are praised for going to therapy. But in Christian circles, I've found that it's a different story.
When my husband and I got married, we learned the value of premarital counseling and marriage conferences. So imagine my surprise at my parents' reaction when I recommended they start couples' counselling.
“Counseling? That’s for people with serious problems or people getting divorced. We don’t need that!” They felt that 45 years of marriage disqualified them from needing counseling.
Maybe you've heard similar things from other Christians.
“Why would I go to counseling when I have Jesus? He is enough for me.”
“My issues aren’t that bad.”
“I don’t want to turn to ‘worldly’ solutions for spiritual problems.”
In this article, I'll share some important things to consider as a Christian seeking therapy and how counselling helped me in my walk with Jesus.
Christians are still human
The reality is that even when we fully give our lives to Jesus, we still experience deep hurt, pain, and trauma. Jesus never promised that we would not face mental health crises or emotional exhaustion. Being a Christian doesn’t shield us from abuse or addiction. And he doesn’t ever promise that we won’t face spiritual warfare! So let’s look at what he does say.
In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. - John 16:33 (emphasis mine)
Tribulation is guaranteed. There has never been a doubt that we would face trouble.
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. - 1 Peter 4:12-13 (emphasis mine)
Turning to another person for help and guidance does not mean that you are turning your back to Jesus.
This passage is talking about living a countercultural life. People around you who aren’t living the Spirit-filled life will be uncomfortable (1 Peter 4: 3-4). If you’re following in Jesus’ footsteps, you can expect to face rejection and spiritual warfare like Christ did (Matthew 4:1-11).
Don’t get me wrong – Jesus has the power to heal and deliver you from your struggles and pain. He’s already saved us from eternal hell! But in his wisdom, grace and perfect will, he may allow us to live through suffering, sometimes even until our last day on earth.
Here is a helpful article: 4 Encouraging Truths for Christians with Mental Illness
Professional Help “versus” the Holy Spirit
Trusting in Jesus and consulting health professionals are not mutually exclusive actions. You can have both Jesus and therapy. They complement each other, actually.
If I injure my back or struggle with my eyesight, I feel free to consult a doctor, and though it would be nice to have a Christian doctor, I care more about their credentials as a health professional than their faith background. Why should I approach my emotional or mental distress any differently?
Turning to another person for help and guidance does not mean that you are turning your back to Jesus. If you’ve surrendered your life to him, he lives within you! His Holy Spirit has been promised to you and guarantees you eternal life with Jesus (Ephesians 1:14). You’re already his and that will never change.
You may find this article on Stigma, Bipolar Disorder and Radical Love helpful.
I believe that professional help can be a way God uses to make people more like Jesus. If you’re reading this article, chances are that you want to change or you know someone else that wants to change. You want to grow. You want to heal. And, at the same time, you want to be more like Jesus.
If you would like someone to pray for you in your struggle, fill out the form below and one of our online mentors will follow up with you soon.
Disclaimer: Some issues that would benefit from therapy may be neurological or genetic. It is important to understand that not all health struggles are the result of a person’s sin, even though they are consequences of living in a sinful, fallen world.