Faith-based marital counseling is a popular alternative to traditional marital counseling. The obvious difference is that a faith-based counselor will involve spiritual and religious teachings into their counseling. When you compare them side-by-side, there is actually more similarities than differences. A further look below at what faith-based counselors do shows these similarities along with the differences in approach.
What Faith-Based Counselors Do
One misconception is that faith-based marital counselors do not provide similar services to traditional counselors. However, this is untrue. Many counselors are experts in theology as well as modern psychology. This means that faith-based counselors have all of the psychological knowledge as a traditional counselor plus an added perspective of religion.
One difference is that many of the experts in faith-based counseling are ordained clergy consisting of ministers, priests, and rabbis. They approached counseling through emotional, mental, spiritual well-being through both religious training and modern psychology.
It is not uncommon for faith-based marital counselors to incorporate references to scripture from Holy books. Religious figureheads such as Jesus or Moses are often used as examples of how to live one’s life.
What Faith-Based Counselors Help With
Faith-based counselors are very similar to traditional counselors in that they often cover a variety of issues. Many faith-based counselors cover issues relating to marriage, depression, parenting, workplace issues, grief and loss, addiction, pornography addiction, and much more.
One of the main specializations in faith-based counseling is in regards to marriage and divorce prevention. Faith-based counselors can help with everything in a relationship from issues of infidelity, communication, financial difficulties, and addictions.
A rising specialization in the faith-based counseling community is dealing with pornography addiction. It helps families deal with members who are addicted and ways to prevent exposing your children to that world.
Why People Choose Faith-Based Counseling
There are a variety of reasons why people choose faith-based counseling. It will mostly depend on if a particular counselor services their particular situation. It can also depend on if the person needs short term or long term counseling.
The reason people often seek faith-based marital counseling as opposed to traditional counseling is because of the spiritual aspect. It is the instinct of many people to reach out to the spiritual leaders in their lives for advice and guidance because they do not show any judgment. This mindset that they will not be judged makes faith-based counseling a very common choice among people struggling with issues related to marriage, addiction, or depression.
Expectations When Working with a Faith-Based Counselor
What can you expect to experience when working with a faith-based counselor as opposed to a traditional one? Pretty much the same thing, with a spiritual connotation. This is the main thing that sets the apart from traditional counselors. It is common to have discussions of prayer, readings from scriptures, or use of religious parables as an example of how to live your life.
With a traditional counselor, there will still probably be anecdotes that provide advice, but they will most likely not be faith-based stories. That is not to say it will be any more or less useful, but will cater towards a personal preference.
Training and Certification
Currently, there are only six states in the U.S. that license the title “Pastoral Counselor”. This includes Arkansas, Kentucky, Maine, New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Tennessee. For states not listed, pastoral counselors have to qualify for licensure as marriage or family therapists, or as professional counselors.
If you live in one of the non-listed states, you may be concerned that there is no official pastoral license. However this should not be taken as a lack of credentials or experience. The reason not all states license the title is because of the separation of church and state. This means that religious activities are not regulated by the federal government.
The Fine Print
One of the final differences between faith-based and traditional counselors is the pay. In the end, even faith-based counselors are professionals looking to earn a wage while helping people with their problems. Similarly to traditional counselors, faith-based counselors typically charge per 50 minutes or hour sessions, with payment due at the time of the session.
The main difference is the cost. Faith-based counselors usually charge less than traditional counselors. Faith-based counseling is usually non-for-profit based, meaning the cost will not be as high. This is ideal for families who cannot afford to pay for a traditional therapist or who are uninsured. On the other hand, traditional counseling is usually for-profit with the counselor looking to earn a high revenue.
One unfortunate side-effect of not having a state license requirement in all 50 states, is that insurance companies can avoid paying for pastoral counseling if the counselor does not have a state license.
Andrew Fujii is a marketing professional with expertise in digital/web and content marketing. He is also a copywriter for multiple agencies and a contributes to various blogs.