Christian counseling is a specific form of therapy or counseling that involves providing emotional care to patients while integrating essential Christian beliefs into the course of the therapy. The process to become a Christian counselor is very similar to that of obtaining any type of counseling credentials, although with a few other considerations and steps involved. If the idea of a career in Christian counseling is appealing, here is how you can pursue this type of vocation.
In order to become a Christian counselor, the first step is to have a strong commitment to and knowledge of basic Christian beliefs. While there is a wide diversity among Christians on matters of doctrine and practice, there are foundational beliefs that provide the basis for unity among all Christians. Understanding what constitutes this core set of beliefs will make it easier to counsel Christians of all stripes, whether they be fundamentalist, conservative, moderate, or progressive in their individual expressions of Christianity.
Formal training is essential if you want to become a Christian counselor. Many colleges and universities sponsored by different Christian denominations offer Christian counselor degree programs related to counseling from a faith-based perspective. In some cases, the coursework necessary is offered on evenings or weekends, making it possible for people who feel a call to become a Christian counselor to pursue their training while still working a full time job. In general, it is possible to attend college part-time and secure a degree in four to six years.
For people who must balance work and home responsibilities with their schooling, going with online classes may be the ideal way to become a Christian counselor. This option allows you to attend your classes whenever you have free time and still complete your coursework. Make sure the online program is accredited and will provide you with a recognized Bachelor's or Master's degree related to psychology and counseling.
Once you have completed your formal education through an accredited college or university, you will want to join a professional association based in your home country. Membership in a nationally recognized association of Christian counselors will help you obtain the licensing and certification you need to practice as a counselor in your local area. In addition, your membership will allow you to network with other Christian counselors and continue your education throughout your Christian counselor career.
With your license and certification in place, you can decide what would be the best Christian counselor job for you. Some Christian counselor jobs involve affiliating yourself with a Christian congregation that offers a wide range of support services to their members. Other jobs are connected with varying levels within a denominational organization, such as a district, region, or synod. You can also choose to set up your own practice, offer your services to the wider Christian community, and make a significant difference in the lives of many people.