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Whether for deep rooted personal issues or to save a marriage, many people at some point in their lives find that they need counselling services. Finding a counsellor who is convenient to one’s home, school or office is almost as important as assuring they are good at what they do, simply because counselling requires a number of sessions to effective. Picking a counsellor is a very personal thing too, so interviewing a number of counsellors before settling on one is important. Finding local counselling services really boils down to a couple factors:

Get referrals from various sources

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While it may be difficult, asking trusted friends and family members is the best way to find a quality counsellor. If they have had to go down the counselling road themselves, they will be able to easily tell you the good and bad of counsellors they have used. For example, even if marriage counselling is not successful, the person involved will know whether the counsellor is good or not based on the experience. Another place to seek a referral is from your physician. They will have experience with other patients who have sought counselling services as well as most likely knowing some personally, whether through their practice or through networking that the counsellor has done. Finally, looking through web sites and directories of local counsellors can help at least build up a list of potential therapists and some sites even have ratings for them.

Free Marriage Counseling - Peter Gitundu

I discovered psychology when I was a university freshman, many years ago. I loved everything about that first course, even the multiple choice tests and especially the section about counseling. Religion was not mentioned in the course, except in a negative way, but in my mind, I could see glimpses of how this newly-discovered field of study could have an impact on the church. I was surprised to discover that my old Sunday School teacher was not enamored with psychology like I was, but my interest grew as I took more courses and eventually decided to study further in graduate school.

In those days nobody talked about the integration of psychology and theology. Christian counseling was not a term that I heard often. My efforts to link my faith with my emerging career were guided by writers in the field of pastoral psychology. Most of these were more liberal theologically than I was but they wrote about ways in which psychological insights could help church-based counselors understand and better deal with issues like depression, interpersonal conflict, panic, and grief. The anti-psychology polemicists had not begun their angry campaigns against Christians in this field so I entered my profession never doubting that Christian counseling, guided by the Holy Spirit and informed by the Holy Scriptures, could be a powerful Christ-honoring tool for helping us do good to all people, especially to fellow believers (Gal. 6:10).

Over the years I have never wavered in my belief that Christian counseling has a lot to contribute to the church. I believe even more that the church makes a crucial contribution to the power and impact of Christian counseling.

*The Church Needs Christian Counselors*
Many Christian leaders still wonder why the church needs counselors. Is not good preaching and discipleship enough? Is not Christ sufficient to meet all human needs? Could not the efforts of dedicated church elders and other leaders eliminate the need for counselors? Do not the Scriptures tell us that believers have everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness? (2 Peter 1:3) Why would the church need counselors like us? We must begin our answer by looking to God's Word. Jesus was a teacher and a preacher, but he also was an effective counselor. He talked one-on-one to the woman at the well. He counseled Martha about her busy lifestyle, and talked tenderly to a woman caught in adultery. Late one night he helped Nicodemus with his spiritual struggles. Often Jesus talked with people privately, shared their hurts, gave encouragement, and guided as they coped with their problems. Sometimes he helped people find forgiveness. He asked questions, listened carefully, and often told stories that left people free to draw their own conclusions. When two of his followers were grappling with their grief and confusion on the road to Damascus, he spent time with them, listened to them, and showed them what Scripture said about their uncertainties.

In the early church and throughout the New Testament we see personal helping modeled and encouraged. Paul, for example, gave sensitive guidance and mentoring to Timothy. Barnabas was a consistent encourager. The epistles overflow with principles for living, guidelines for solving problems, and instructions for individuals with tension in their lives. More than 50 times we read one another passages. Bear one anothers burdens, we are told, encourage one another, care for one another, be kind to one another, serve one another. Of course these words are not directed to a special group known as counselors. These instructions are for all Christians, but they are teachings that encourage the type of help, support, and care giving that counselors have the calling, time, and special training to provide. There are those who say that counseling does not help. Sometimes it does not. But many people can tell encouraging stories about ways in which they have been changed by counselors who are trained to understand problems, teach communication skills, help people get along, and show how to deal with inner conflicts and pain left over from the past.

The best trained counselors recognize the influence of biology and appreciate the role that body chemicals play, sometimes creating havoc in Christian homes and individual lives. We need to remind church leaders that literally thousands of scientific research studies have examined the work of counselors and demonstrated their effectiveness. It is true, of course, that God does not need counselors for the advancement of his kingdom. Neither does he need teachers, physicians, preachers or anybody else.

In his sovereign wisdom, However, he uses mortals like us to accomplish his purposes. He could give us instant knowledge of all truth and could bestow wisdom like he gave Solomon; but he has chosen instead to work most often through godly teachers. He could heal all our diseases in an instant and sometimes he does, but for reasons that we do not fully comprehend, he brings most physical healing through the skillful hands of scientifically trained doctors and nurses. He could evangelize the world with the blink of an eye, but instead he has given this responsibility to evangelists, pastors, and faithful followers of Christ charged with the duty to go forth and make disciples. Instantaneously, God could wipe away all depression, anxiety, inner turmoil and interpersonal conflicts, but often he works through compassionate human beings with the gifts of encouragement, discernment, and counseling.

How then, do these counselors strengthen the church? First, counselors free pastors and other church leaders for the overall work of the ministry. Most pastors would agree: the demands of ministry gulp up large quantities of time and leave few hours for the concentrated care giving that counseling often demands. But no one person is called or equipped to do everything not even the pastor. Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12 teach that members of the body have different spiritual gifts and responsibilities. Counselors use their gifts to help people, honor Christ, and strengthen Christians in their churches. Counselors also help pastors, missionaries, and other church leaders deal with difficulties in their own lives. Recently I attended a large conference on church leadership led by two prominent evangelical pastors. During their messages, both mentioned how Christian counselors had helped in times of special difficulty and rejuvenated their ministries as a result. One described how a counselor had helped when the demands of ministry almost destroyed his marriage. The other talked about the time he hit bottom, burned out emotionally, physically and spiritually.

With the support of his church board he took time off, got help from a Christian therapist, and learned to pace himself for the effective ministry that he has today. Where do church leaders go when they need help? What if a pastor or missionary is struggling with a failing marriage, uncontrolled kids, hostile criticism, deep feelings of failure, insecurity, bitterness, or lust? Sometimes the best counselor is the person who can be objective, available, and trained to deal with the unique problems that may be draining energy, vitality, and effectiveness from Gods chosen servants. Christian counselors also can (and should) give support and encouragement to their spiritual leaders. This is one of the things we can do best, but I wonder how many of us take the time to come alongside our pastors or other Christian leaders to give a little inspiration and encouragement. Even when they are not having problems in their own lives or with counselees, church leaders need to know that people like us care enough to say with our words and our presence, Well done...I am standing with you. Christian Counselors have their own unique healing ministries that can strengthen the Body of Christ. Counselors have Counselors use their gifts to help people, honor Christ, and strengthen Christians in their churches.

As part of their in-depth training, counselors learn special helping skills. They have knowledge about the nature of common emotional problems like depression or anxiety, familiarity with the impact of biology on behavior, and expertise in handling faltering marriages or dealing with interpersonal conflict. Some suggest that counselors take a paraclete role, being used by the Holy Spirit to come alongside struggling people to bring special comfort, guidance, encouragement, and sometimes confrontation.

*Christian Counselors Need the Church*
One of the greatest weaknesses in the development of professional Christian counseling has been our movement away from the church. This has happened for at least three reasons. First, attitudes in some churches have driven counselors away. When church leaders condemn professional counselors and urge church members to avoid counseling, is it any wonder that some have set up their practices away from the church? Second, the mental health professions have encouraged independence. These attitudes are now changing, but for many years secular organizations and professionals have tended to distrust religion, proclaim the Importance of professional objectivity, and warned against dual relationships such as those that might occur in church settings. Influenced by managed care companies, state licensing agencies, ethical guidelines and the desire to be as professional as possible, many Christian counselors have concluded that their practices should be completely separate from the church just as medical or legal practices are independent.

Third, sometimes the movement away from the church has come because of the attitudes of counselors themselves. Some of us have kept our counseling and our Christianity compartmentalized because we do not know how to bring the two together, do not want to bring them together, fear being accused of proselytizing, or do not want our beliefs to impact our therapy adversely. But Christian counselors ignore the church at their own peril. We are members of the body of Christ. Christian counselors need the church for encouragement, support, teaching, and worship. We cannot forsake meeting together with other believers (Heb. 10:25). For many years I attended church routinely but only within the past few years have I begun to fully appreciate the role that corporate worship plays in my life. I need it. When I am traveling and miss worship with other believers, I sense a vacuum in my life even if my personal devotional life is intact. Every Christian needs the church body even when our churches are not very worshipful. We need this more because of our kind of ministry. We are in the business of seeking to undo what the devil does best. Our work is a form of spiritual warfare. He is the father of lies; we seek to help people face the truth.

He divides people; we bring them together. He convinces them that life without God is best; we teach that life without God is futile and ultimately empty. He seeks to discourage us, distract us, sidetrack us, and prevent our effectiveness as counselors; we work with the knowledge that while the evil one is powerful in his activities, the one who is in us is greater than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4). We are helpless to do this kind of ministry in our own strength. We need the body of believers to hold us up in prayer and support. If there are none in your church who do this, you are lacking a key ingredient for your Christian counseling effectiveness. In addition, Christian counselors need the church for accountability. We live in a culture where independence and individual achievement are lauded, even in many churches. We acclaim super-star pastors and applaud our heroes in sports, music, and even the Christian counseling profession. I have seen it up close in the Christian publishing industry. Publishers, readers, and talk show hosts tell writers how wonderful they are and in time these authors begin to believe their own press reports. Accountability goes out the door along with humility. Whether or not we are successful or famous, each of us needs Christian brothers and sisters to stand alongside us, challenge us, and keep us accountable for the ways in which we live our lives, care for our marriage, pare not our kids, spend our money, deal with our own sexuality, and relate to our
clients.

Christian counselors also need the church for the support and spiritual encouragement of our clients. I know a counselor who makes three requirements for all of his counselees. They need to see him for their weekly counseling sessions, be involved in some kind of small group, and attend at least one worship service a week. My friend believes that his counseling is more effective and long lasting when his clients are anchored in a local church. For some counselors this may not be feasible, but the churches impact for good in the lives of clients cannot be overemphasized. Here is therapist directory for your help.

*Winds of Change*
Our profession has come a long way since I took the freshman psychology course that eventually got me into Christian counseling. We still have a long way to go but the winds of change are blowing. Christians are recognizing that Christian counselors do serve a purpose especially when problems arise that common sense care giving does not seem to help. Counselors, in turn, are realizing that we need the church, desperately. Churches and counselors are in partnership like never before. This is the way it should be. I suspect this is Gods way.

Need Marriage And Family Counseling?Get The Answer Here!

It's common for people to have hesitations about seeing a counselor, due to many misconceptions about therapy. Learning the truth, and dispelling the myths, will make you more comfortable in reaching out for counseling.

Myth #1: Counseling is only for "crazy people."
Truth: Counseling can be helpful for everyday problems, which everyone faces at some point in their life. This may include poor communication with a partner or child, stress at work, difficulty sleeping, or just feeling sad. Any life changes, big or small, can cause stress, and it can be helpful to have someone to talk to for support and guidance.

Myth #2: Counseling is only for people who are weak.
Truth: It takes a great deal of strength and courage to admit you need some help. Seeking help is a sign of mental health, not weakness. It shows that you are ready to take control of your life. Counseling will help you identify strengths you already have and improve on them to make life more manageable.

Myth #3: My problems aren't serious enough for counseling.
Truth: Counseling can often be helpful when you have a decision to make, if you are feeling lonely, if you had a bad day at work. If something is causing you stress, worry, sadness, or anxiety, it is serious enough for counseling. If something is important to you, that makes it important enough for counseling.

Myth #4: My problems are too big for counseling.
Truth: Experienced counselors will be able to help you sort through years of problems. Counseling can help you explore past experiences and teach you how they affect your behaviors and thought patterns today. Years of trauma will not be fixed with a few sessions, but if you are committed to therapy long-term, it will help.

Myth #5: Someone who doesn't know me can't help me.
Truth: Counselors are often better helpers than family and friends, because they will provide objective feedback. Counselors have training in human behaviors and recognize patterns that people close to you may not.

Myth #6: Counseling will be a quick fix for my problems.
Truth: Counseling can be a lengthy, in-depth process. One session is not typically enough to make lasting change. Counseling is difficult work for the client and often brings up emotions that were being withheld. It is important that you are dedicated to continuing with counseling in order to make change possible. Moreover, it is not a counselor's job to fix you, rather to give you insight and help you reach your goals.

Myth #7: People will know I'm seeing a counselor and will think differently of me.
Truth: All counseling sessions are confidential, so unless you choose to tell others you are seeing a counselor, no one will find out. Talk to your counselor about your preferences for being contacted, including their ability to leave messages on phones and where you prefer to receive mail. Be sure that your counselor reviews the limits of confidentiality with you at your first session.

Myth #8: I don't want to lie on a couch and be analyzed.
Truth: Although commonly seen in the movies, this is not typical of most counseling sessions. Counselors' offices are comfortable, relaxed settings. Couches may or may not be present, and the client always has the option to sit or lie down. Therapists are not there to analyze you and find out what is "wrong" with you, rather their job is to help you identify areas for change.

Myth #9: One hour per week isn't going to help.
Truth: One hour per week is adequate time with your counselor; however the work doesn't end there. With your counselor, you may develop "homework," or things you will work on during the week before your next session. You must be willing to extend your experience into your daily life in order to see positive change.

Myth #10: I've tried counseling before, it doesn't work.
Truth: Not every counselor is well-suited for any individual. Perhaps your previous counselor was not a good match for you. Perhaps you were not fully committed to the process at the time. Spend time researching counselors before choosing one. It is important to find a counselor who has experience with the issues you are facing.