Can Faith-Based Therapy be the Answer?
What happens if you need therapy but you are religious or deeply spiritual? You probably feel that your faith in God is a central component to how you relate to yourself, others and life in general.
If you are a practicing Christian, Jew or Muslim, or if you feel the basis of your healing is rooted in spirituality, you may find it difficult to find a therapist that understands this need. Psychology is a science-backed enterprise, and faith is not science, faith is well … faith.
Faith and mental health
Though modern psychology has plenty of space for holistic approaches to healing, it can still be a challenge to incorporate faith into therapy. For many religious people, the answers to life challenges can be surprisingly multi-layered and complex.
According to an article published in the Indian Journal of Psychiatry, mental health is defined as
“Having the ability to take responsibility for one’s own actions, flexibility, high frustration tolerance, acceptance of uncertainty, involvement in activities of social interest, courage to take risks, serenity to accept the things we cannot change and the courage to change the things we can change, the wisdom to know the difference between the above, acceptance of handicaps, tempered self-control, harmonious relationships to self, others, including Nature and God.
So if faith has an impact of your day to day feelings, thoughts and choices, doesn’t it make sense to incorporate faith into your therapy sessions?
The divide between mainstream therapy and faith
A 2017 report on religion In America, revealed about three-quarters of the population identifies with the Christian faith, about 37% consider themselves to be highly religious.
Among the most empirically validated scientific models for research and therapy is Aaron Beck’s cognitive theory and the Cognitive Behavior Therapy it inspired. Cognitive theory has helped us understand the underlying causes of anxiety and depression. Core beliefs about the self, world, and future are its principle province, yet little has been done to address the role of patients’ spiritual beliefs in this foundational system.
Faith based therapy
If you feel like the inclusion of faith is required for you to benefit from therapy, it may be worthwhile to seek therapy from a therapist who understands your core values and spiritual beliefs or at least understands this about you. A therapist that is able to integrate religion with the therapeutic techniques that have been developed from modern psychology can help guide you towards holistic healing.
Secular healing models tends to focus on symptom management and processing of past trauma. Faith-based therapy will help to incorporate and honor your relationship with God in your healing process. If spirituality is a part of your struggle, real change can come from addressing the core problem.
Can faith-based counseling work for you?
If you feel connected to religious values and lifestyle, a counselor who understands might be the best option for you. He or she will be able to assess your struggles and work with you toward solutions that include a spiritual-based perspective.
If your beliefs are an important part of your life, faith-based therapy can be the missing piece of the puzzle.