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Why do so many Christians resist counseling?

mexicano_stubborn_mule_tug_reins_lg_clrWe’re continuing Christy’s story from past posts where we’ve been getting your wonderful input. When Christy’s friends realized she had a pattern of unhealthy friendships, one particular friend gave her the name and number of a Christian counselor who had been enormously helpful to her. Then Christy’s friend said, “Call her and make an appointment. I’m going to call you this afternoon to make sure you have done that.”

Christy did — and as you will see, the counselor was used mightily of God in Christy’s deliverance.

Yet so many Christians reject the idea of Christian counseling — and even more so, will not consider medicine, even when told they have a chemical imbalance. Though I doubt they would tell a diabetic to forgo insulin and trust God, that is how they proceed when it comes to severe depression and anxiety, both of which can have a chemical basis. In Christy’s situation, she didn’t need medicine, but she did need counsel — and that counseling absolutely turned the light on for her.

If Christy had resisted going, she would still be stuck. Psalm 32 warns us: “Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you.”

Why, do you think, Christians resist counseling? Have you been helped so you could encourage others? I have — and I’ll share — but I want to hear from you!

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32 comments

  1. Dee, I think this is a touchy subject. I also think there are a variety of reasons why some Christians resist counseling. Here are some reasons, I believe why some Christians resist counseling. Proably the 1st one on the list would be: incompetent counselors. I just spoke with a couple last night who is going to a Christian counselor – they are going there at the request of the Christian counselor for their adult daughter, who because of really wrong choices she made, threatened at one point to commit suicide. Her life is pretty much a mess because of the poor choices she made, and now in counseling she is blaming it all on her parents. And the counselor, counsels with the daughter alone, and the parents and the daughter together – but not with the parents alone to hear their side. And my friends are even afraid to speak the truth for fear that their daughter will take her life. This I have heard more than once. How counselors fail to hear both sides of the story and they have hurt many lives because of it. Often, the counselors are young, even unexperienced in life, their hearts are seemingly good, but it also reminds me of the proverb – about the person who tells their story first, seems right, until you hear the other side of the story. Some counselors fail – to hear the other side of the story. So, how could they really be helpful – with half the truth.

    And some people aren’t really “godly” counselors – though they call themselves “Christians”. And on a more personal note, I was somewhat more or less “seduced” by a woman I thought was more or less a “godly” counselor. I take responsibility for myself in this area, but when you go to a counselor you are very vulnerable. So, it does not surprise me that some Christians resist counseling.

    I’d like to say, and I think the answer you are looking for, is that we resist counseling because we are afraid to look at ourselves, and that is proably true too. But the truly only safe counselor is God himself.

    1. Hearing both sides of the story is essential. I agree!

      Hermana Sally

  2. I think another reason Christians resist counseling is because depression is a much misunderstood illness. And because it is misunderstood,often even by the victim, a person sometimes feels embarrassed to seek help, thinking that nothing is really wrong. Many well meaning people offer unsolicited opinions that can really confuse. Some people believe you can just get over it if you want to. Can you just get over cancer because you want to? Depression is very prevalent in my family, and I also went through a deep depression after divorce. Although I did not seek professional counseling or take medication, the Lord gave me a faithful friend whose counsel was very godly. I am so grateful that she stuck with me.

  3. Hi, I am a student counsellor. I am a Christian and have been attending a Christian college here in Australia to get my degree. I counsel in both Christian and non Christian environments and I find I have more non Christian clients. I am not 100% sure why that is, although a possiblity is that Christians believe that God will heal them, and I have no doubt he can however in my own journey I have encountered some good Christian counsellors who have greatly helped me in areas that I was stuck, and after exploration of these areas I have been able to ask God to help me through and find healing.

  4. Hi! I hope you don’t mind, I’m just jumping in here! Your question – why do Christians resist counseling – maybe one of the answers is they don’t want to look like a fool! We’re suppose to have it all together, and what is wrong with us – if we don’t? And the second resistance in our thoughts would be – why would anyone bother with us? Why would anyone really care? But maybe the deeper question would be – Does God really care?

    I don’t think as the person said above that there is a simple answer to that question – there may be as many reasons as there are varieties of people who come from different places.

  5. Hi Dee,
    I have been reading about this subject and following it. About the counseling aspect, I know that I have felt like this rejection when people have suggested it. I felt like they were saying they didnt want to help me. And I have had bad experiences with the authority figures in my life and a counselor was just like another person who i think will just abuse me and not help me. i think mine is more an issue of having a trust issue. can i really trust this person? and will they really understand.

    journey

  6. I would say it’s fear – fear of exposing the real person inside.

  7. Hey journeyvision!
    It is good to see you here! I am afraid I cannot help you on this one, for I struggle with some of the same thoughts you have, I do understand how you feel. I do know there are some godly people who can help you, who will really care about you. God does put people in our lives who will really care, with whom we can let “the real person” be seen and be loved. It’s grace and truth, journeyvision. Dee is a good woman journeyvision, she knows and loves God. I pray you are continuing on in your journey!
    Fellow.

  8. Hi Fellow,
    I am so glad that you are here. It’s nice to see you.
    And yes I am still on that journey. I have to say that I went almost to the door of getting counseling and then wimped out. I think that I was afraid also, of maybe the changes that would take place in my life, that perhaps I thought in a way that I was not ready for those changes. And to elaborate on the trust issue, afraid of trusting my secrets and who I am to another person. But perhaps someday I will not be afraid.

    journeyvision

    1. God is good journeyvision! He only desires our healing and wholeness. We can trust that where He leads us – He will take care of us! I am glad to see you here! =) And I am glad you are still on that journey – it is a good journey!

      1. Hi Dee,
        You know, you are very much loved by me. You most definitely have my trust, because you follow and love the Lord.

        journeyvision

  9. I think the key is to make sure you have a godly counselor. My women’s pastor recommended that I see a counselor, as she could see that I was not getting over my husband’s death. Then my mother died, my two grandchildren were diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, and their mother, my daughter has serious health problems. I found a godly counselor with the help of my pastor, and she gave me some good directions. She did not solve my problems, only God can do that. But she gave me some things to try, some new ways to look at what was happening, such as remembering that God can be all that my husband was to me, and so much more. She reminded me that tho I might be lonely, I was never alone. She helped my turn my direction around. I am not there yet, but more hopeful than I have been. I know if I feel stuck again, I will go back to her.

  10. I am thankful for the way God directed me at different times in my life when I have been stuck. Sometimes He brought a friend to listen and care, sometimes He spoke to me through a book or a Christian radio program or a sermon. Sometimes he used a Christian counselor. I too, did a phone interview before going to see counselors and found it to be very helpful and crucial.

    I learned early on that I could talk, read, write and listen but the hard work of digging up truth was often something that I had to do alone. My weekly visits with the counselor were frequently a compass check for the point I was at and a place for tinkering with the direction I was headed in.

    I also found it easier to work with women as the one male counselor episode was derailed because I developed a sabotaging “crush” on him. Even that was used by God because I learned to pray for him and his marriage and my own marriage when my thoughts would be riveted on him. It totally dissolved those feelings! I told my husband about the struggle and together we were able to re-commit ourselves to each other.

    There were a few other struggles that I remember, one was thinking that the counselor while supportive, was kind of a paid friend who would listen to me. Coming up with the weekly payment was no easy task and I admit I resented it greatly. It is an expensive hour.

    Three years ago we moved from the Midwest city that we had lived in and raised our children for 18 years to a city near the east coast where we knew no one. I was thankful that it did not bring a crisis for me and was proof that I had worked through a lot of old issues. The first time I needed help was after our first move to the Midwest city when I started to have anxiety. I work a lot of hours and have not made the kind of supportive friends that I have in the Midwest. I am thankful though for the solid friends who keep in touch even though we are miles away. Our hearts are still connected.

    One thing I know, if you have unresolved areas of life that you have not dealt with……well, they don’t go away. I learned that a small thing could be blown out of proportion not because of itself but because it triggered other problems that I had not dealt with. Counseling can be scary, but life can be scary. Counseling can give us the correct tools to be able to handle future “scary times”.

    We have to be like the Bereans in the New Testament and compare all that we learn with scripture. No counselor is going to save us but should be pointing us to the One who does.

  11. Truthfully, I struggle with the whole concept of counseling, and even went to one for over a year, for I thought, I don’t want my pride to stand in the way of what God has for me. I think that’s a good motive for going, and really a good motive for all of our lives.

    I too, have struggled with the idea of a counselor being like a “paid friend”. I think there must be really great “counselors” out there, but that has not been my personal experience. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be for someone else! God uses different ways and means to reach His people.

    I suppose going to a counselor, should be seen somewhat in the same light as going to the doctor. I don’t go to the doctor to become “best friends”, I go to the doctor when I feel something is wrong. And even then, it’s not one of my favorite things to do! I think as Christians, we need to be wise, ALL doctors are not good, ALL counselors are not good! I think Dee gave some good guidelines.

    If I were dying of cancer, I’d want to go to the best doctor! Yes, I would like a doctor who cares about me, but more than that even, I would like a skilled doctor who has good success. I think the problem that we share, is who to place our trust in? So, again, I think it’s a matter of trust. And the one, that we know we can ultimately trust is God. That’s why it comes back around to seeking God first. If we are daily having a relationship with him, asking Him to lead us, to guide us, to give us wisdom – then we have to believe that He will do these things for us – we should be asking, seeking, and knocking. God wants to lead us. And it’s proably His desire, that we be whole, even more than we ourselves want at times. He wants to guide us, and bring us to “green pastures.” He desires our wholeness, that we may ourselves help others. I think of the story of the Father with the son, found in Luke 11:11, “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or, if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will YOUR Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” And think about the Holy Spirit! He is called the “Counselor” – and the Greek word for that means “one called alongside to help!” He is also called the “Spirit of truth.” In John 14:15, it says, “If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever – the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him or knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”

    I guess my whole point here, is that God can and wants to lead us. He is “one called alongside to help,” and if we believe “we are stuck”, He – the Holy Spirit – can also lead us to find that good Christian counselor. For the Spirit of truth resides in us – if we are born again. And also, the Holy Spirit, being the “Spirit of truth,” can resonate within us, the “truth” of what someone is sharing. As, in Dee’s case, “the truth” “set her free” to move forward in her grief process. God wants to show us the truth – so we will be set free.

  12. One of the reasons I didn’t seek counseling for a long time, while in the midst of a horrible depression, is because of the judgment I received from other Christians. I was told that I just needed to have more faith, spend more time with God, dig deeper into the Word, etc. etc. The list was exhaustive, but all relied on ME to fix myself. If I had more faith, if I did this or that, then I would be okay. The truth was that I had done all I knew I to do.

    The straw that broke the camel’s back was when I awoke in the middle of the night to a wet face and thought I was bleeding. I had actually been crying in my sleep. (Prior to this, I would have tears running down my face while I was awake and didn’t even realize I was crying)

    I decided depression was a high price to pay for someone else’s approval. I sought help. I went to a reputable doctor and got meds so I would have the ability to focus on what the problem was and seek the Lord’s Face. I also found a good counselor after I’d been on the medicine for awhile. The medicine helped me to be in a better position to find a good counselor. I could think more clearly and objectively than when I wasn’t on it.

    Would you believe I’ve been ridiculed, teased and condemned as being as “mental” and “crazy” for getting help from the very Christians who are supposed to be “bearing Christ about in their bodies” to help others? I think that’s one key to safe people……..they don’t attack your character and your thoughts/ideas. They help you to talk through them and to see the flaws and strong points in them. A good counselor was able to do that with me.

  13. Dee, I think what Jean said, is so true also! i come from a family of “secrets.” I only learned two of my sisters were only my half sisters when I was 16, having grown up with them my whole life and only then it was because my “sisters” felt “different” and had investigated for themselves. My father beat us silly when we were younger, and had to keep it a secret because it would “get him in trouble.” I only learned my Dad and my uncle, were only half brothers, when I was 40. My family has had this “weird” sense of “loyalty” or “protection”, of not telling the truth about the “bad” things that have happened. A few years ago, I got a call that my sister had committed suicide, and then I got a call, that no, she did not commit suicide but she had died in her sleep. My father said there was an autoposy done on my sister’s body, and she died from I forget exactly what they call it, but her heart just stopped beating. My sister had suffered long from depression, brought on by a variety of factors, and I wonder sometimes if my father was telling the truth. I don’t know if she just got sick of feeling bad. She was on a bunch of medication from different things. I don’t know, if my sister could have been saved had she cried out to a Christian counselor. I do know that depression can be serious though. And a good Christian counselor can be life saving.

  14. Dawn,
    I can also relate to what you have said about coming from ‘a family of secrets”. Growing up in a foster home, I knew I needed help but my mom always made us kids feel like it was bad for something to be wrong with us. She felt it reflected upon her as a parent, making her a bad parent. And as I grew up, it was the same way, I didn’t want to go for counseling, and I had alot of opportunities I think to go. The agency that we were from did offer different types of help, but I think as Dee stated before, pride was then my enemy. And it was mostly from what would my family think or I could never go because of hurting my mom. And as I go older, I just didn’t do anything about my issues. I also knew that there were secrets that my mom held but didn’t share with me even as I got older about my birth family that may have helped me sort out why I was feeling the way I was. I guess I felt ashamed to like so many others who wrote out how they feel, about getting help. But the big hurdle that still faces me is trust. Will I be able to trust? Will that person be able to listen and understand? How will I find the right person? Is there such a person as the ‘right person”?

  15. Hi journeyvision!
    I love reading some of these past post journeyvision, because there is alot of wisdom in some of these ladies. We may be at different stages of our growth – but we share one thing in common – we are on the same path – following Jesus! And as someone said, somewhere here, God wishes us to be freer than maybe we even ourselves want sometimes. And I think, maybe one of the reasons – we “don’t want it” is because we haven’t experienced how great that freedom is! For, I believe once we experience it, we want more of it! And God wants to do this in alot of areas of our lives – where for one reason or another – we have held onto a lie – and that lie keeps us in bondage.

    I think Dee said in one of her posts, there are safe people out there, that they are roses with thorns, “they will bring beauty into our lives, but they may occassionally hurt you.” And here is where I think is a really good piece of wisdom – “pray for friends who have a deep love relationship with Jesus.” “You might find them ministering to the least of these.”

    God doesn’t ask us to throw out our minds when we become Christians. Nor do I believe He asks us to share everything with everyone. But I do believe that God wants to help us and that He will place people in our paths, who will do just that. But I believe that also happens often when we are in the right place. We put ourselves among God’s people. Not everyone is trustworthy even there, but we ask God to guide us and to lead us, and then we stay alert. And as Dee, said – look for the ones who have a deep love relationship with Jesus. They may not be “like you”. They may be way different than you. God often surprises us like that. Some of the best friends I’ve had, have been totally different than myself. Get closer to the ones who point you to Jesus. Sometimes, we need friends to come alongside us, to encourage us to do the things we should. But remember journeyvision, don’t place your trust in them – place your trust in the God in them.

  16. Dee, I see the wisdom in your words here, but I have one question:is what I hear you saying, that if we feel “stuck” and we don’t go to a Christian counselor, then we are making the decision to stay stuck? Is Christian counseling the only way that God uses to “unstick” us?

  17. Dee, I agree. However, in my case, I was so raw and so empty that I couldn’t see that I was making a ‘decision by default’. All I knew is that I was hurting so bad, something had to give. I finally decided to trust a doctor to get meds. I realized they weren’t going to ask a ton of invasive questions, only enough to determine if I needed the medicine. (I did!) I’m so thankful that I decided to make that choice because, once on the meds, I was able to clearly see how much I needed to sit down with someone and just talk and pour out my heart. I also realized that I needed some help in getting through that tough time in my life and I needed someone who had been trained to help people get through depression.

  18. Hi Ms .Dee! Just wanted to say hi and I miss u all! Having computer issues so haven’t been able to keep up via email, but know that I’m continuing to “press in” and I’m praying for you and all your devoted listeners! Love you all and hope to speak w/you again in the near future!

  19. Browsing through different websites, I came across this one. Quite an interesting conversation. I know you Dee, not personally, but from your “Friendships of Women,” book – fabulous book – really touches many of the issues we face as women! Thank you for writing it!

    Maybe you can help me out on a question I have. I am the owner of my own business, and God has really miraculously provided for me over the years. And really, I am quite shy by nature, and I only say that so you can understand how miraculous, I view the provision of God in this area. I have sought the Lord many times regarding this, somehow, He just miraculously takes care of me. But when my work gets slow, at times, I get “unnerved”. I start to question myself, I start to question whether this will be the time, when God doesn’t come through for one reason or another. I question whether I should even be doing this. I am not an extrovert, I don’t possess great salesmanship skills, and quite frankly, I wonder what the heck I am doing. I have a heart and desire to serve the Lord, and often, I have viewed my work, as just providing the money to go and do that, and people have told me, I have blessed them, and blessed their lives. I don’t view myself as an “irresponsible” person. I have not asked anyone for anything in regard to “taking care of myself.” I am not a lazy person, in fact, I like to work. But when my work is slow, I feel pressure from without and within, to “be more” to “do more”. And there are just some things, I don’t feel I can do. I understand this about myself, and cry out, oh God help me. Lord, show me what you want me to do! I try and think of things that I would be good at, but I don’t have alot of skills other than the one pertaining to my business. And that, I believe, God has given me, and I am good at that. And I believe you are a godly woman, and maybe you could just turn some sort of “light” on for me. My desire is to serve the Lord.

    1. Thank you Dee!