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Christian counseling is a ministry. It is faith-based counseling which sees the Bible as the primary source for truth and eternal standars for human life. It draws upon the science of Psychology for technique and method. The unifying factor is the therapist, him or herself, who has integrated a combination of Christianity, psychology, and psychotherapy into an applied program. Clients may see Christian counseling as a relationship with a caring counselor directed toward increased awareness of themselves, others, the societies and cultures in which they live, and their understanding of the Christian God. It is often focused on solving the individual problems of the patient.
Christian Counseling is the process of integrating current psychological methods and processes with behavioral standards promulgated by Scripture. The point of Christianity is the healing of relationships: Relationships between man and God and relationships between people. Christian Counselors typically have more education than traditional therapists, since they receive training from both the secular and the religious world. Many Christian Counselors will use powerful analytical tools such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Others prefer the Arno Profile System (APS) which is based on the theory of Five Temperaments. Using these powerful analytical tools, many Christian Counselors can offer an accurate diagnosis and suitable treatment plan within a relatively short time from their first encounter with their subjects.
Depending on the clinical perspective informing any given Christian counselor's integration, this process may take various avenues and target diverse goals. The therapy may take an ad hoc approach, focusing simply on the therapy session itself. Clients may be more comfortable with a Christian counselor, and they may feel such a person's advice is more sensitive to their personal or religious needs. Some clients also wish to use the Christian Bible as a reference for their therapy. For some, prayer enters into the counseling process as well. A degree in "Christian Counseling" is not required; however, ethical and professional standards suggest that someone holding him or herself out to be a Christian Counselor would have become competent. Some schools offer a Masters of Arts in Professional Counseling while teaching Christian Counseling through the classes. There are about 19 programs currently offering teaching in integration on the subject matters. They can be -- but are not required to be -- a psychologist, psychiatrist, Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Licensed Professional Counselor, a Marriage, Family and Child Counselor (MFCC), or a Certified Addictions Therapist.
Christian and secular counselors both counsel from a professional standpoint: they adhere to ethical codes, professional standards, often utilize supervision, and consult appropriate diagnostic texts such as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Christian counselors are distinguished from other counselors in that many utilize the Christian Bible as a source of behavioral standards, as their patients are likely studied in, or at least receptive to, its dictates. Patients may consider counseling itself as a form of discipleship or ministry by which they serve others in the name of Christ. Although there are differences between secular and Christian counseling, both utilize the same models of therapy (i.e. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Gestalt Therapy, etc.).
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