10 Myths Keeping Christians from the Counseling They Need

“Jesus said to them, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners’” (Mark 2:17)

While there’s little hesitation for someone to schedule an appointment with a family physician when they’re under the weather, there seems to be great pause for most people before considering talking with a therapist.

This hesitation seems to run deepest within Christian circles. From a need to portray a perfect life to feeling like a disappointment to God for needing help, a Christian can feel a lot of guilt in seeing a medical-mental professional. But the truth is, God never expected us to be perfect. If he did, he wouldn’t have sent Jesus! He also never thought we could do life alone because he makes it quite clear that together, with those around us, we are the body of Christ. 

So, to remove the stigma counseling is enshrouded in, let’s address the 10 most common myths that are keeping Christians from the counseling they need. 

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1. “If the Lord is my strength, I can’t be weak.”

The Lord is your strength—that’s true! (Take a look at Psalm 28:7.) But where it gets dangerous is confusing his strength with our strength. He is perfect, all-powerful, and never-changing. We are imperfect, inconsistent, and not nearly as strong. When we mix the two up, we’re left thinking we’re strong enough to handle every problem on our own and put off counseling. 

But what’s fantastic about God’s strength is that it’s perfect in our weakness. When we’re downtrodden, God picks us up. And guess what! Sometimes that help is through counseling. When you seek out a faithful Christian counselor, don’t view it as a flaw—view it as a way to access more of God’s strength in your life! 

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2. “I need to have it all together.”

“If I don’t have my life completely together, how will people ever be brought to Christ?”

Oh, dear sweet friend! Your perceived perfection isn’t going to be the thing that brings droves of people to church. In fact, quite the opposite! Pretending to have your life completely together can be such a turn-off. It makes people feel guilty about the less-than-glamorous parts of their lives. Plus being vulnerable with your struggles—and how God mightily works through them—can be such a compelling testimony. 

Now, I want you to know I completely understand not wanting everyone to know your struggles. Trust me—I get it. But it’s still powerful to be able to talk with someone, say a counselor, who’s sworn to confidentiality. Once you to talk through everything with someone, you’ll be surprised by the freedom you feel to tell others your story. 

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3. “It’s going to hurt more to deal with my past than to ignore it and move forward.”

There’s a chance that therapy will, in fact, hurt. When you’re working through a situation that’s rooted in pain, it could sting to dig up its roots. But, avoiding therapy because it might hurt is like refusing to get a broken bone set. The pain of fixing the issue is well worth the healing that comes from it.

As you begin to work with your therapist, you may find yourself emotionally tired, overwhelmed, or feeling left on empty. But as you start making progress, you’re going to feel lighter, more confident, and ready to move forward with your life. Don’t let the fear of dealing with your pain head-on prevent you from the healing God has for you.

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4. “If I just pray harder…”

Prayer is powerful and can very much bring you healing. But I’ve met so many people who feel embarrassed to talk to a professional because they assume it’s all their responsibility to fix. They found themselves in this situation, for whatever reason, and it’s up to them to pray their way out. 

I love that their first instinct in times of trouble is to pray. But it breaks my heart that people will grapple with something, and then on top of that, heap guilt on themselves for “not praying hard enough.” If you’re stuck and can’t move past something, no matter how hard you’re praying, remember: counseling can also be an answer to your prayers. Keep open those powerful lines of communication with God, but try talking things out with a counselor, too. They’ll offer wisdom and give you a new perspective on your situation.

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5. “I can talk to my small group/family about my problems.”

It’s so great that you have a group of people in your life who will listen to you as your process through your emotions. But, relying on your loved ones to fill the role of your therapist can be damaging to your relationships. You’re heaping on a lot of responsibility on their shoulders, and that weight can be incredibly straining. Plus, your friends probably aren’t equipped to give you the guidance you need.

So instead, I encourage you to seek professional help. There’s a lot of value in working with an actual therapist. A therapist is trained to not only listen, but also to help you work through everything floating around in your mind. They’ll provide an unbiased opinion, and, most importantly, they can tell if there’s something more serious going on. 

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6. “God is good, so the problem I’m going through is fine.”

Many Christians fall into the trap of believing that our problems take away from God’s goodness. But there are two things I know for sure: I regularly have issues, but God is still good. 

Ever since Eve sinned, our world has been less than perfect. That’s why we go through tough times, and sometimes, it’s not even our fault. Things happen to us that are entirely out of our control. So, please know, there’s nothing to be embarrassed about in having problems. You don’t have issues because you believe less in God’s goodness. But, since God is good, he wants the best for our lives. Hence, he gives us resources such as small groups, friends, and—you guessed it—counseling. 

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7. “The therapist is just going to shame me.”

A therapist should never, ever shame you. If you’re seeing a professional and you leave feeling more so like it’s your fault, you did something wrong, or that you should be ashamed of who you are, then you need to find a new therapist. A therapist’s job is to help you better understand yourself and to shine a light (and the truth) the situation. 

Now, there’s a chance that what you’re struggling with is a consequence of choices you’re making. But, in no way, is shame going to lift you up out of that situation. I’ve never heard of anyone shamed into healing, have you? Remember, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).  

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8. “Counseling is only for serious problems.”

Therapy isn’t just for someone who went through a traumatic experience like a sudden death of a loved one, fighting in a war zone, or escaping an abusive relationship. Counseling is just talking with someone trained to assist you in working through your thoughts and feelings. This means, you could go to therapy for learning how to balance your schedule in college, working through the transition of marriage, or even when everything in life is going well.  

The problem with creating the stigma that counseling is reserved for “serious” problems is that people will wait until small struggles become something much more significant. If a person begins to see a therapist before an issue takes root, healing is going to come quicker. 

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9. “There’s no way I could afford to go to counseling.”

Yes, it’s true: some therapy options are crazy expensive. But some options are much more reasonable, without sacrificing the quality of help you’re receiving. All it takes is a little research.

When you first start looking for counseling, figure out what your budget allows. Remember, this should be a high priority. If you need to cut back on your coffee habit or going out to eat, I promise you it’s worth it. 

Next, look for options through your church. Many churches have affordable (or free!) therapy options. Even if your church doesn’t have counseling, they may offer scholarships for specific Christian counselors in the area. At the very least, they may be able to recommend a professional to you. And in some cases, counseling centers offer need-based scholarships themselves. 

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10. “There’s nothing I can do to change the past.”

You’re right: the past is the past, and there’s nothing you can do to change it. But therapy helps with the events of the past in two critical ways.

First, seeing a counselor and talking through what happened changes your perspective. It shines light and truth into the situation and lets you up from under the weight of the shame, guilt, stress or worry you’ve been feeling.

Next, counseling allows you to move forward in freedom. You’re better equipped to handle life. You’ve fought through troubling situations in the past, and you’re better able to avoid those situations in the future. You walk more confidently, and if you stumble, you know that therapy is always an option. 

Lindsey Brady is a new wife and stepmother who loves to spend time in nature or going for long runs. When she’s feeling a bit more sedentary, she’ll watch an entire season of any Food Network show in a single sitting. You can follow her on Instagram at real.slim.brady

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