If You’re Afraid To Go to Counseling | Therapy & Theology

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If You’re Afraid To Go to Counseling | Therapy & Theology

How can I find the right counselor? Is it OK to take medicine prescribed by a counselor? What if I can’t afford counseling right now? It may not be easy putting in the work to find the right counselor for you, but it will be worth it.

This episode is the last episode of the newest season of Therapy & Theology: “You Asked … We’re Answering.” Through podcast reviews, direct messages on social media, and more, Lysa TerKeurst; Licensed Professional Counselor Jim Cress; and Proverbs 31 Ministries’ Director of Theological Research, Dr. Joel Muddamalle, collected your most asked questions. Now they’re spending an entire season answering!

Hi, everyone. I am so excited about today’s episode because I hope it’s a breath of fresh air and one that equips you to take a appropriate next steps in your counseling journey.
No matter where you currently are, you know, we get questions all the time via email and on our YouTube age asking about how to find a good counselor, what to expect in your first appointment, and what do you do if you can’t afford a counselor so many more questions.
So before we get into the content today, I wanna let you know that our team has put together a helpful listener guide that you can download for free using the link in the show notes.
Now, let’s dive into some of those questions. Alright.
First of all, whoever wants to go first, I’m assuming it might be you, Jim.
How do I find a counselor and what credentials should I be looking for?
Okay. We said we’re gonna be brief on this. I’m sure we’re gonna try.
One is simply just do your own due diligence around this. I find that is lacking often.
Now you may want to just find a friend or somebody.
Tell me who to find or but if it’s like we’ve recommended aacc.net, that I’m part of.
You’re part of the American Association of Christian Counselors, but who?
I want you to really use if you can, the social media, the internet, and go.
Many therapists have their bios. They have some of their own, uh, on YouTube.
They’ll have some of their own videos.
You can watch them in action, read, find out what they do, And, um, and you just have to do your due diligence.
We’re in an age now where there’s a lot of virtual counseling and laws changing.
There, we can counsel across state lines.
That you might find someone who’s not just in your area, but really get after it, research, take the time to read, and also one of my themes I use a lot is I’m encouraging you to be willing to if you’re going to try to pay for counseling, to find someone, you narrow it out.
I think this is a person I wanna see, then buy a session with it.
Versus, can I get 20 minutes of your time?
Uh, many good therapists now that we’re still in that global mental health pandemic were swamped.
So to say, buy a session, go out. I’ve narrowed it down.
I think you’re the 1 and see what you’re willing to do with.
Those are some things that due diligence read, study, you’ll get there’s more recommendations out there on the internet, and then you’ve gotta go meet that person.
You know, one thing that I found is think of the topic that you want address or you wanna start with.
And, um, I really enjoy some Instagram accounts where therapists will go on and they’re focusing on this one topic.
And when they focus on the topic, I can quickly look at some videos, whether it’s YouTube, Instagram, you know, whatever, and I can kinda tell if I would gel with that person or I wouldn’t.
So the question that I have then is I found someone I really like their advice of what they’re putting out on social media, but what credentials do I need to make sure they have?
Is that important? Is not important?
Like, what do I need to be looking for beyond just the helpful advice that I’m seeing on online?
Uh, I think it’s important. My experience is uh, that there are a lot of people that can do a great job on the pastoral level.
My wife is Jessica is a board certified mental health coach.
And I put her up against most therapists with her wisdom. She’s done her own work relative.
My point around that is there are life coaches and people who can do a really good job.
When you’re thinking to go knowing your own story a little bit down the road of a professional counselor, look for masters level, I would look for people who are licensed.
They might be of a master’s in MA or an MS.
What are the what are the little, symbols that you’ll see are the letter accurate after the
MA is a master of arts. So you’ll see that in, like, professional accounts.
Like, what that says is they’ve done a lot of their work. They’ve done the psychology work.
Hopefully, if it’s Christian, if not, they supplement it.
Otherwise, they know the clinical things to work for because you’re fixing to open up your life.
LPC in some states licensed professional counselor. I’m that.
I’m also a licensed clinical mental health counselor because I’m licensed in more than 1 state PhD.
If you’re gonna get some great psychological testing, more than a simple enneagram test, nothing against that, Yes.
Is that where you can go in and take an MMPI, the Cadillac of all psychological tests you’ll like look for a PhD in MD, all psychiatrists or MD who can prescribe medicine.
K? I don’t send a lot of people to psychiatrists because they usually don’t have the time in bed with I don’t send them to a psychiatrist for ongoing therapy.
So MA PhD and then and then, uh, MD and then also looking at does the person have some other credentials?
Many of us have a lot of the certificates and certifications in training, what we call a trauma informed therapist, people who are trained in other modalities, you’ll see that right on their website.
Yeah. It was very attractive to me, Jim, when I found out that one of your specialties is betrayal trauma.
Because I knew that was a specific thing that I wanted to address.
Now, obviously, that was the door that opened up when desire the urgent need for me to get into therapy.
And we stayed focused on that for a little bit, but then there were so many other things that opened up.
It’s like, oh, actually, there’s some things that I need to work on and you were able to help me, but often what drives people to a counselor is the urgency of a pain point in their life And so if you know you want that kind of specific help, then go after a counselor who’s specifically trained in that.
And like you said, with things opening up so much online, this is a real possibility Yeah.
No matter where you live. Their sex addiction therapist There’s betrayal trauma therapists, um, name some of the others that you think may be good categories for people.
Yeah. I love IFS. It’s called internal family systems.
Obviously, an LmFT is the licensed marriage and family service that really trains uniquely around marriage, around therapy, You have EFT, emotionally focused therapy with Sue Johnson.
Doctor Gottman, if we’ve talked about, I’m a Gottman trained therapist to use the part of the Godman method.
I’m very eclectic. God’s the god of all wisdom, so I’m gonna have a cafeteria plan. I borrow from this.
I get trained in this. I get trained in that.
Because I wanna use as many tools in my toolkit as I go along.
But EMDR and what we call brain spotting these days are powerful almost miraculous breakthroughs of what it’s doing to help heal trauma.
Those are things somatic experience. It’s just so some of the word for body helping people be in touch with what’s going on, which is almost the last frontier people I I’m doing all this psychoan education scripture things therapy, but are you aware of your body?
So what’s going on there? But those are a few.
And again, a simple Google search of Don’t get overwhelmed because you can’t.
Different psychotherapies, different approaches and counseling things that are out there. Take what you can use.
And leave the rest alone.
I think something that’s important there also and with my background as an academic and with the allergy and PhD and all that is understanding specialties.
Yeah. And so I’ll give an example and then, uh, related to you.
If somebody came to me, I have a PhD in theology with an emphasis in biblical theology, particularly in the let Paul’s letter to Ephesians, specifically in his household terminology.
And if you notice how I said, it’s like a funnel. It’s like a funnel.
So with that, you’re like, hey, I’d love to talk about oil cost terminology. Absolutely. I got you.
Hey, I wanna talk about household. Got you. Hey, I wanna talk about polling letters. Okay. I got you.
But Holy letters is a bit more wide than just effusion. Right?
Um, I think it’s important that you have got enough self exploration of you knowing where you need in your help.
So what you said was so helpful, Jim, you’re a collector, but I know you enough to know that as you’re engaging with somebody and you’re saying, it sounds like you need a specialist in this particular area.
If somebody comes to me and they’re talking and all of a sudden, again, second temple literature.
And I’m like, hey. I think you need a second temple literature expert, and I would just, as a suggestion, be paying attention to the people that you’re talking to to see that sense of humility and self awareness of that clinician as well or that therapist to know their own limits and their credentials so that there’s not that superhero complex that we’ve talked about
So, Joel, what would you say to someone who says I’m uneasy that going to see a counselor, a therapist, is really biblical.
No. That’s a great one. I can answer that quickly and, uh, distinctly, one of the significant words of the new testament is therapeutic, where do we get a word therapist from?
The whole idea of that Greek word, it’s actually to recover wholeness. That’s beautiful. Isn’t that beautiful? Yeah.
So what is Jesus doing consistently throughout his earthly ministry?
He’s trying to help us recover our wholeness spiritually, emotionally, and physically. Right?
Um, and so it is it’s deeply biblical It is also something that we have to have wisdom with.
And so you can probably talk a little bit more about this.
There’s a difference from a human centric humanistic philosophy that presents you as the height of creation, and everything has to filter through you versus a theological understanding of you are made in likeness and image of god.
So you have the, like, dignity and worth And you also are we call it in theological terms, the creation, creator, distinction.
You are created, and there is a creator.
And so I’m personally looking for a therapist who are not going to necessarily feed into the ego of myself, but help me see how I rightly relate in my world with others.
You know? And so that’s probably the distinction I make.
Okay. Is counseling something that we need to consistently do forever?
Well, that’s our words frame of reality. Right? Forever and forever is a long, long time. So no.
Um, I want people to get more and more dependent on Christ on the word of god, on community, walking together, and less and less dependent on the therapist.
Therapists exist that one day when you’re bored, Google about the modern therapy movement of when that landed in America, and you will see the Freud uh, pushed a lot of stuff in there, and that’s not a negative statement about Freud when the church was failing to backing off of cure of souls and care of the souls.
That’s far too. You go research that if you want.
So the idea is the counseling movement exists now, and I’ve had some large church pastors say, Chris, we’ve got you.
We’re not gonna send them to an elder in our church. We’re not gonna do that.
And so pastors, I think, and I don’t I just live in the times I live in.
I have indoor plumbing. Right? And so now we’re here, meaning, I mean, we live in the times.
I have the internet. And so now is we’re in a professional counseling movement.
The I’m on the executive board of the American Association of Christian counselors. We’re trying to make a difference.
It just is. It’s just here. But even among counselors, you ought to work yourself out of a job.
Now look, there are some counselors and I get it. No offense. Who are hungry?
And I understand It’s like chum in the water sometimes. They find out they can get a new client.
They’re new. They’re starting out. I understand that.
But a person, if you discern this counselor is desperate to get you in there, and to keep you.
You know, part of that I’ll be, are you changing as Saint Paul said, the things you’ve learned and seen here, go put into practice.
Otherwise, you’ll do James. You’ll come look in the mirror of therapy in the word of god once a week and immediately forget.
And I mean, that’s a secret I find a lot of people.
I’ll check back and say, what is your action plan to go put into practice?
You’re here with me next week. And as you know, I don’t do the weekly anymore. Intensives.
But still, I’ll meet with people. Some people come back and do another intensive.
I’ll say, what have you put into practice since the last time? And I want to assess that.
The biggest failure, if I had to look at that camera and say, here’s the one thing I’d say is whatever you’re learning counseling, and do Biblio counseling.
That’s the word for book. Go to Barnes and Noble somewhere. You get it for free.
Sit down and read books, Google, read, Find out what you can, get a notebook, purse journaling, as personal therapy, and then go put that into practice with some accountability from some other people.
Yeah. Because that’s a that’s another question.
Like, what if I can’t afford therapy or That’s why you started therapy and theology. Exactly. Exactly.
Do the tea? Look at the amount of wisdom, and I’m not being arrogant with this because we’re a team.
We’re the 3 of us, and this team buying these cameras that no one even sees.
The amount of energy that goes in in preparation of starting with your vision.
I’m forgetting when you first set it. And now go back and watch.
Some people are listening to the audio don’t know. You can watch our lovely faces on YouTube. Right?
Go back and watch and rewatch.
And listen and and time and take notes, not just our show notes and say, what are my takeaways and how do I go put this in the practice?
Maybe you get 3 or 4 friends in a small group. Let’s watch us some therapy and theology and discuss.
You can do that, and it’ll save you a lot of money.
Can I just, yeah, just tag onto that a little bit?
One of the things that I’ve found is, um, when it comes to the Bible, I think the Bible is the best interpreter of scripture.
Mhmm. Scriptures the best interpreter of scripture. You notice in your Bible, there’s little cross references.
You ever wonder why they’re there? It’s free to look up. Hello? It’s for you to track down and search.
Right? And I’m like, hang on. Flip pages. Like, no.
Like, there’s something beautiful When you go and track down those cross references, because you see the large story of scripture, how it’s interconnected.
And I just wanna encourage y’all Jim and Lisa are consistently dropping wisdom and nuggets.
Jim, you’re always quoting people in citations, uh, giving citations and resources Write them down. Chase them down.
Like, go read those books by, uh, the different people, like, and use wisdom as you’re doing it, obviously.
Uh, but also recognize that maybe there’s incredible opportunity for this to be a starting place, not your ending spot, but a starting place for your health journey that can lead you to other places of health and wellness.
Quick honesty real quick. Dead serious because it will sound like I’m joking. You know what?
I don’t like about what you all are saying.
I definitely don’t like about what this Jim Crest guy is saying.
It’s far more relaxing to the scrolling Instagram and TikTok. I’m being very honest.
This is I’m not gonna say that for me, but I find people what we’re doing is I get it.
I get social media. We’re wiring our brains more and more in firing dopamine and watch it.
And so to get and do what you’ve said with the cross references in this book alone, the best counseling that it may deliver or to say, I wanna watch therapy in theology and take my own notes and proverbs and and therapy in theology.
Very generous to hand out show notes, and we handed out the uh, the healthy conversations contract.
I think we’re wiring of this TikTok and Instagram, which I’m on, but it’s like there’s a sense that I don’t want to do the work Some of us need to which I understand to really continue to grow up development because it’s a very young part and say, I will do my due diligence to go find a counselor and take all this free counseling and put it into practice.
Now I sound like a grouchy guy. Mhmm. I’ll go back and watch the anger up.
So I’m gonna I’m a passionate rather prophetic at times to say, we’ve got to do this because the brain is in operation and you’re not gonna get all the dopamine fire when you’re doing this play across references.
You won’t. Not away. If you
have issues, then it’s so much better to be informed than entertained. Totally.
And I think part of the passion that we have with therapy and theology is to match the wisdom in the bible the wisdom in good therapy practices and also the real life everyday issues and bring that together so that we people can be informed so that we can be informed and not just entertained.
Um, okay. I wanna ask this question, and I don’t wanna open up a tremendous can of worms because we’re at the end of this.
We wanna wrap up with this question.
But, Joel, I really want you to comment on medication because there are a lot of questions about medication.
Yeah. I’m gonna I’m gonna comment in the Wiregintag team on this one. Alright.
So I’ll say this if you’re worried theologically, biblically, like Oh my gosh.
If I take medicine, is that a lack of faith in god? Right?
Um, like, I just want you to be assured that in the gluckaroman world, in the ancient world of the ancient near Isabella Testament in the gluckaroman world of the new testament, the medicine was a system reality for people.
They use medicine for fevers, for illnesses, for diseases, medicine was commonplace, and and there was a deep faith that god is a god of miracles that you can pray and you can that that god would heal, right, And you know what we find more often than not, I think, is the normative practice of god.
Mhmm. God is consistently using his common grace, which is called medicine, and therapists, and doctors who he has creatively uniquely wired in such a way to figure out how the body works to that he designed himself to be able to treat us and to be able to get.
So I would say, um, no, you medicine in and of itself is absolutely not, um, anti faith.
Now, like, anything, and this is Jim. Well, I’ll I’ll tag you in.
It it also has to be stewarded well. Absolutely.
And we have to have wisdom in determining, okay, is the is the goal of this medication to regain Paul uses the language of sober minded, is the goal to regain my sobriety to make sure I’ve got clear, uh, mind that can think the way that got intended, or is it gonna dilute my mind?
Is it going to compromise the way that I think?
And so those are some of the filters that I want us to think through with it.
But in general, no, medication is god’s gift.
To us and very often in order for us to regain clarity of mind.
Yeah. Amen and I agree.
So I’ve had it in years of hosting call in counseling shows that most tour therapy shows, uh, people would call in with this question about a thousand times, and that is is taking a medication like an SSRI uh, and anti depression anti anxiety med is that showing a lack of faith.
And I remember one time out of my mouth. I said, thank you god for that.
I said taking a medication often does not show a lack of faith. It’s actually an act of faith. Yes.
Leviticus, word of god. He gave leaves for healing.
Luke, who was a physician, got to write 1 4th of the gospels and the whole book of acts.
So there there is
And why is Luke with Paul the entire time? Homeboy’s getting beat up, whipped. He’s getting abandoned.
Like, he needs to get bad stuff snakebites. He needs to get bandaged up consistently.
He literally had his own position.
E e r doc on call. Right? On call.
So I think that’s the idea in end of Joel Joel alluded to this, but there ain’t a thay out there that we can’t take something good.
And run it out and it become basically a crutch force in a unhealthy way.
The research would show an experience would show if you take a medication, take that and do underlying issues.
Forgive. Work on your family of origin trauma or wherever your trauma came from.
Do the deeper work because the neuro pathways of the brain get out of whack.
And so if you take a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor and SSRI, is just helping the serotonin stay where it needs to be.
And then underneath that, do the e quite frankly, even the homeopathic work exercise sunlight do all like that, all the work you’re supposed to do, and it will help you.
And yet some people, if you look at bipolar, this is like 5 shows in one second, there are issues that probably the person’s never gonna come off that medication.
I have friends, people close to me on Zoloft, and it has changed their life. Yes. Right?
And they but they do their work underneath it.
They’re not at a PES dispenser of just popping prozac’s, right, and they’re making fun of that.
Do the deeper work around that and it all works together.
Thank you so much, Jim. Thank you, Joel, and thank you for tuning in.
I hope that today’s episode has been helpful.
This is one of those episodes where we wanna make sure that you know there is more help out there than you have problems.
And so a big part of that is joining into therapy and theology, but don’t limit it to just, uh, go out there, do the healing work, and we believe if you know the truth and you live the truth, it changes everything.
Hi, friend. Thanks for watching this video.
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