Common Barriers To Seeking Biblical Counseling, Part 1
Over the next few months, the Gospel Care Center will be providing some Biblical Care and Counseling articles that we hope will be edifying to our New Covenant congregation. The following article will appear in 2 parts. It has been condensed and re-worked from an original article by Daniel L. Weiss, who is the Media and Sexuality Analyst for Focus on the Family.
Common Barriers to Seeking Biblical Counseling
For many, seeking the services of a professional counselor is a lot like going to the dentist—but worse.
Most of us remember our reactions when, as kids, we found out it was time to visit the dentist. If you were like me, you pretty much went kicking and screaming the entire way. But whatever pain we felt in the dentist chair was minor compared to the pain we would have felt if our teeth had not been properly maintained by a trained professional.
For many, seeking the services of a Biblical counselor at our Gospel Care Center might feel a little like going to the dentist but much of our resistance is based on misunderstandings that are not Biblical or Gospel care centered.
Let’s examine some of the common barriers that keep people from seeking Biblical counseling.
One of the most common barriers to Biblical counseling is the denial of the existence of a problem, or at least a problem bad enough to seek professional help. There is something stoic and resilient about humans; we want to prove ourselves, we want to overcome. We can admire people for this hardy approach to life, but we must also mourn for them at times. Refusing to come to terms with an obvious problem in our life is not laudable, it is foolhardy.
One of the most common misconceptions among all people regarding mental health is that everybody else has it together. They all look fine, right? So we adopt the same approach. We make sure our outside persona gives the appearance that we are fine.
The greater probability is that almost everyone you see is undergoing some sort of internal or external struggle. Some are weighed down by physical illness, others struggle with circumstances they cannot control, such as joblessness or the death of a close friend; many walk around filled with shame, fear, doubt, guilt, anger, hopelessness, or a host of other emotional and mental issues. Difficulties in family and marriage relationships affect some of us. Others struggle with sexual, substance, or food addiction issues. As Christian educator Christopher West said, it’s like we are all driving around town with flat tires. Since everyone else is also driving around on flat tires, we think it is normal.
The real first step in getting spiritually healthy, whether from physical, mental, or emotional wounds, is to admit that something isn’t right. A visit to a Biblical counselor is like a diagnostic exam. They are trained to help you discover what has gone wrong; together you decide what kind of treatment you may or may not need. Many times, just the time invested during one visit provides the hope and gospel focused reassurance that you require.
Although this is decreasing, a stigma is still attached to seeing a counselor. There is an impression—especially among those who have never tried biblical counseling—that only people who are really sick or mentally ill would need to see one.
The good news is that our society is beginning to see the value of professional counseling. More and more people are using the services of licensed therapists for a variety of reasons, many of them involving life experiences common to all of us. A counselor can help a college student learn to manage stress, or to determine if the stress is being caused by something deeper than a heavy course load. Some benefit from counseling as they work through the spiritual trauma due to divorce or the grieving process involved with the death of a loved one. Others seek counseling for depression in order to identify possible causes of related to a physical condition, their spiritual situation, or many times, a combination of the complex interaction between our bodies and spirit.
Next week we will continue part 2 of this Common Barriers article.