Should Christians go to Counseling?

Updated: Dec 17, 2021

Written by Dr. Cary Corley


My 2-year-old loves Moana. She watches it in the morning. She watches it in the evening. She watches whenever she can. When she was sick, I set the movie up on repeat, and she never took her eyes off. Thankfully, I enjoy the movie as well! My favorite scene comes at the end. Moana has discovered that Te Ka, the lava monster, is in fact Te Fiti, the “giver of life and creation”. But Te Fiti is not herself. Her heart was stolen by Maui, and now only Moana can save the day. The heroine walks boldly into the chasm in order to deliver Te Fiti's heart to the roaring monster made of flame, fire, and wrath. As Moana delivers the heart back to Te Ka she sings, “I have crossed the horizon to find you. I know your name. They have stolen the heart from inside you, but this does not define you. This is not who you are. You know who you are.”


It moves me just typing the words for you because it is such a powerful example of what Christ has done for us. Despite sin’s nature stealing our hearts and deforming our earthly shells, Christ steps into the chasm, because he knows our value as children of God. He knows who we are and moves toward us. In doing so He gives us purpose, value, and life.


Think for a moment about your favorite movie or book series. What makes it so powerful? Why were Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings such powerful stories? Because they contain elements of the most powerful story known to man: a hero or heroine stepping into the void or darkness to deliver life to those who are lost without it. In seminary, we called this “A Christological Narrative”. A Christological Narrative is when attributes of the divine nature of Christ are found in stories outside of the Bible. You will find that most of the popular stories and cinematic experiences derive their storyline from a Christological Narrative. Remember that the next time you watch Tony Stark confidently say, “I am Iron Man” or “I love you 3000.”


When I was in my own professional counseling at Dallas Theological Seminary, the Lord moved me to share some dark parts of myself with my counselor. These included things that my emotions had convinced me were unlovable, things that made me feel disgusted and ashamed. I was convinced for many years that these parts of myself should never see the light of day. With that being said, they festered in my soul. Finally, through much prompting from the Holy Spirit, I shared my darkness.


I remember breaking down into tears as my counselor drew in close and said, “You’re going to make a wonderful counselor someday.” The relief my soul felt was astronomical. It was an amazing release of anxiety, tension, shame, and anger all at once. I had not felt such a powerful connection to God since I had become a Christian 12 years earlier.


What does it look like when counseling works? It looks like a Christological Narrative has played itself out in the therapeutic relationship. The counselor sees their patient for who they truly are. They see the person sitting across from them as God sees them. This enables the counselor to believe in that person and to have faith in what God can accomplish in their lives. Instead of being disgusted and running away, they draw closer, empathize, and encourage them. This breakthrough moment leads to personal transformation. The human soul is designed for it, needs it, and in many ways--craves it. The inspiration derived from being loved and accepted moves a person to do things and make changes they never thought possible. Addictions are laid aside. Marriages are restored. Shame and arrogance are refined to conviction and humility. No past sin or sexual history can withstand the momentum created at this moment. Even demonic influence cannot overcome the power of Christ. The process of spiritual growth receives new life, and the Holy Spirit moves in powerful ways. This is the true nature of counseling, and this is why counseling is Christian at its core.


Romans 12:1-2: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God--this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”


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