To answer this question, let’s first look at what it is like for a non-Christian client and then we will talk about how it is different for the Christian. Receiving treatment from a Christian counselor is going to be different for each client, because each client is different and is facing a different challenge.
For a non-Christian client, I learn about your worldview or religion as one aspect of a full assessment. If my client doesn’t identify with any religion, or if my client is atheist, they are as much in need of effective treatment as anyone, and it is my calling to help my clients, whatever their beliefs may be. So, the first step for me is to listen and learn.
Not identifying with a religion doesn’t mean no spirituality. All humans are spiritual to varying degrees, religious or not. This is an integral part of the human psyche. Therefore, my role as a therapist is to help my clients to clarify their beliefs for me and for themselves. Understanding a client’s schema offers a client direction and helps them clarify their values. Values are an integral part of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).
ACT is an action-oriented, cognitive-behavioral approach to treatment. Through research, those who developed the ACT approach, Steven Hayes, et al, learned that psychic suffering most often resulted from experiential avoidance and fusion with our thoughts, which results in psychological rigidity. They found six methods that increase psychological flexibility: 1) acceptance, 2) diffusion, 3) present moment awareness, 4) the observing self, 5) values, and 6) commitment to action.
Some 40 years later, there are now over 1,000 randomized controlled trials that demonstrate the efficacy of ACT. ACT has demonstrated to effectively treat Major Depressive Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Eating Disorders, Social Anxiety Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Chronic Pain, poor anger management, Substance Use Disorders, psychosis and workplace stress.
My primary goal for my Christian clients, in addition to correcting the primary problem that brought them into treatment, is that they grow in their love for God and love for others by faith. I practice Christian counseling by faith, and I encourage my clients to get well by faith. You have the Holy Spirit and are capable of walking in the Spirit. You will improve if you ask God for it and trust him for it.
Gary DeVine has provided integrative (R/S) behavioral health treatment for individual adults for about 20 years and has been a Licensed Professional Counselor for 14 years. He is licensed in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and credentialed by multiple insurance companies and EAP’s1.
- Gary is credentialed by the following insurance companies: Aetna, Allied Benefits, Cigna, Quest Behavioral Health, United Behavioral Health (Optum or United Healthcare). He is also credentialed with the following Employee Assistant Programs: Aetna, Cigna & Optum.