How is Faith Based Counseling Different?

Faith Based CounselingWhat type of counseling is right for your teen? (Image via Wikipedia)

For parents who are looking for someone to help their child through a difficult time, the world of mental health can be very confusing.  Within the sphere of mental health services there are psychologists, psychiatrists, therapists, counselors, nurse practitioners, and social workers.  It can be a struggle to determine which type of mental health practitioner is the right type to provide the assistance your child needs.  Additionally, there are specialties within this sphere that can muddy the waters even more.

There is an easy way, however, to know who to turn to when your adolescent needs help.  It comes down to three things.  First, you need to choose someone who is a licensed and trained to assist people with mental health issues.  Second, you need to choose a practitioner that specializes in working with children, teens, and their families.  Third, you need someone who your child can connect with, someone they are comfortable with, and someone with whom they can develop a rapport.

This third element is why you may decide to pursue faith-based counseling.  Shared faith and beliefs can provide a foundation for the connection and rapport that can make all the difference in managing mental health.   Additionally, adolescence is one of the first times in life that people begin to question the beliefs that were handed down to them from their parents in an effort to establish themselves as a separate being.  Religious beliefs are one of these handed down belief systems that may be called into question and having a counselor to talk to who shares those beliefs can make this process less tumultuous.

Faith-based counseling can also be very beneficial for those families and teens that have a strong religious belief and practice.  For these families, their beliefs are so foundational to who they are and how their children are raised that it is critical to have a mental health practitioner who understands not only their faith but how integral that faith is to who they are and how they were raised.  Families and teens can seek the mental health services they need without feeling as though they need to disregard or defend their beliefs.

Some faith-based counseling programs and counselors approach treatment holistically and look to integrate the mental, relational, emotional, and spiritual aspects of care to help the whole person.  Faith-based mental health practitioners may combine faith, spirituality, theological concepts into the traditional therapeutic process.  This approach to mental health management believes that treating these types of problems works best when faith and modern science combine to treat the whole person.

If you feel this is the best approach for your family, make sure you look for faith-based practitioners who also meet the first two qualifications above.  They must be a licensed mental health practitioner and specialize in working with children, teens, and families.  Mental health problems can be very serious and it is crucial that the person you trust with your adolescent’s well-being is trained in treating mental health issues first and foremost.

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