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How
to
Find
the
Right
 Christian
Counselor


How Christian Counseling Can Help The Counselorʼs Education & Training Counseling & Psychological Services The Limits of Confidentiality Fees & Eligibility for Insurance Someone Who Understands & Cares

Table of Contents 1


Table of Contents How can Professional Christian Counseling help?............................................................................... 4 What’s the difference between a Pastoral Counselor and a Professional Christian Counselor?....... 4 What’s the difference between a Psychologist and a Psychiatrist? ..................................................... 5 What is a Marriage and Family Therapist? .......................................................................................... 5 What is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker? ......................................................................................... 5 What should you know about Counselors-in-Training? ..................................................................... 5 Counseling & Psychological Services .................................................................................................... 6 What can you expect in Counseling? ..................................................................................................... 7 How long will you need to be in Counseling? ....................................................................................... 7 What are the Limits of Confidentiality? ............................................................................................... 8 How much does Professional Christian Counseling cost? .................................................................. 9 Will you be able to use your insurance? ............................................................................................... 9 Finding the Right Christian Counselor ............................................................................................... 10 Resources .............................................................................................................................................. 11

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OC Christian Counseling Finding the Right Counselor

Your Story is Safe With Us

We’ve created this special report

We know how hard it can be to ask

because we know that choosing the right counselor to help with

for help. Our counselors are here to help with the insight of

your concerns can save you a lot of

professional training, the wisdom

time and money and frustration!

of Scripture, and the tenderness of God’s grace.

We understand your commitment to your faith. Sometimes life is difficult, and you need a safe place to talk things through – a place where your faith is taken seriously.

About Our Ministries Our ministries provide educational programs to address the emotional, relational, and spiritual needs of persons in the Church and in the Community.

You want counseling to make a real difference in your life, so you can get on with living it. So we use proven approaches that are based on sound biblical principles and scientific research, partnering with you to find effective solutions.

Our programs are based on Christian values and offered to all regardless of religious affiliation. Our nonjudgmental approach reflects our desire to meet you at your point of need.

Dr. Debi Smith Executive Director Licensed Psychologist Debi Smith, PsyD, earned her Master of Arts (MA) and Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) degrees at Rosemead School of Psychology— Biola University. Dr. Smith is a Licensed Psychologist (PSY21711) and Clinical Supervisor for our prelicensed professional counselors, all of whom are all involved in ongoing training in clinical psychology and the practical application of biblical principles. Dr. Smith specializes in working with couples and is a Certified Prepare/Enrich Facilitator and Seminar Director. She also teaches counseling at Biola University.

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What is Professional Christian Counseling? Q

How can Professional Christian Counseling help?

A

Sometimes life is difficult, and you need a safe place to talk things through – a place where your faith is taken seriously. As a Christian, you probably know the principles found in Scripture. But you may be having a hard time putting them into practice. God’s solutions to life’s problems are simple. But they’re not always easy to put into practice. Our life experiences—both past and present—play a significant role in how we attempt to live out our Christian beliefs. Professional Christian Counseling can help you sort out the issues that may be keeping you stuck and help you strengthen your faith in the process.

Q

What’s the difference between a Pastoral Counselor

A

and a Professional Christian Counselor? A Pastoral Counselor is someone who ministers to people who request counseling in church and para-church contexts. Pastoral Counseling is usually short-term and focused on a particular problem or concern. Pastoral Counselors are trained in relationship building skills and are knowledgeable about recognizing when there is a need to make a referral to a Professional Christian Counselor. Much of what they do includes a focus on life transitions and building small communities within a church ministry. A Professional Christian Counselor has been formally trained in practical theology, as well as in the professional diagnosis and treatment of a variety of concerns such as: • Adjustment Disorders • •

Alcohol and Drug Abuse Anxiety and Stress

• •

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Complicated Bereavement

• •

Depression and Mood Disorders Eating Disorders

Impulse-Control Disorders

• •

Personality Disorders Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

• •

Learning Disorders Relationship Difficulties

If your faith is an important part of your life, you want someone who actually applies biblical principles in his or her work, not a professional counselor who just happens to be a Christian. That’s a potentially important distinction. So you’ll want to ask your Counselor about how he or she typically integrates faith and practice in counseling sessions.

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What about professional experience and training?

Professional Christian Counseling can help you in your Christian walk.

Q

What’s the difference between a Psychologist and a Psychiatrist?

A

A Psychologist is a person who holds a doctoral degree (PsyD, PhD, EdD) and is licensed by his or her State Board to diagnose mental disorders, practice psychotherapy (“talk” therapy or counseling), and conduct formal assessments and evaluations of personality, intelligence, achievement, and psychological/social functioning. A Psychiatrist is a medical doctor (MD) who has been trained in the diagnosis and treatment of psychiatric disorders. They typically prescribe medications and rarely engage in the use of psychotherapy. They often work hand-in-hand with Psychologists and other psychotherapists in implementing treatment plans.

Q A

What is a Marriage and Family Therapist? A Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) is a person who holds at least a master’s degree (MA, MS) and is licensed by his or her State Board to practice psychotherapy. Simply stated, they are relationship specialists who are trained to assess, diagnose and treat individuals, couples, families, and groups to achieve more adequate, satisfying and productive marriage, or family and social adjustment.

Q

What is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker?

A

A Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) is a person who holds at least a master’s degree (MSW) and is licensed by his or her State Board to apply social work principles and methods in

Praise be

to the God and Father of

counseling with individuals, families, or groups; provide information and referral services; and/or to provide or arrange

our Lord Jesus Christ,

for the provision of social services.

the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,

who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can

comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. ~ 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Q A

What should you know about Counselors-in-Training? Psychological Assistants (PA) and Marriage and Family Therapy Interns (MFTI) are Counselors-in-Training. They must be registered with their State Board, and may only practice under the supervision of a licensed mental health professional. Session fees are often somewhat lower if you see a PA or an MFTI. All Counselors-in-Training are required to discuss all their clients with their supervisor on a weekly basis so you would also benefit from the expertise of the supervisor.

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Counseling and Psychological Services You want to find meaningful help in a nurturing, Christhonoring environment. Professionally trained counselors should select the best approach to fit your personal style and to address your concerns. Some options are Cognitive Behavioral, Emotionally Focused, Family Systems, Relational, as well as other proven approaches to help address your concerns. Individual Counseling Are you concerned about how things are going in your life? In these troubled times, it’s not surprising that anxiety, depression, and problems in close relationships are among the most frequent reasons people seek the help of a counselor. In fact, both the Bible and the findings of scientific research tell us that healthy relationships are important for your mental, physical, and spiritual well-being. Couple Counseling Premarital counseling and marriage counseling should be based on sound biblical principles and on the findings of scientific research to help you develop a mutually affirming relationship to last for a lifetime. The focus in couple counseling is building a secure connection between partners. The PREPARE/ENRICH Inventories are very good for helping you and your counselor identify clearly defined goals from the start. Family Counseling The fact is that many Christian families have trouble with communication, particularly those families with adolescents or young adults who are moving toward independence. The good news is that you don’t have to struggle alone. Christian Psychologists and MFTs have been trained to help your family figure out better ways to communicate and to find peaceful solutions to your concerns. Psychological Testing If you are looking for a professional evaluation for personality, intelligence, achievement, or another psychological condition, you will need to work with a Licensed Psychologist or a Psychological Assistant who is trained in the use of Psychological Assessments such as the Personality Assessment Inventory, the Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory-III, and the Wechsler Scales of Intelligence and Achievement.

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The Counseling Process Your counselor should clarify the counseling process at the beginning of therapy and provide you with a “Consent to Treatment” form so you will know what to expect. Q A

What can you expect in Counseling? Counseling is not easily described in general statements. It varies depending on the personalities of the counselor and the client, and the particular problems you are experiencing. There are many different methods your counselor may use to deal with the problems you hope to address.

Professional Christian Counselors are trained in individual psychotherapy, couple therapy, and family therapy. They do not prescribe medications or advise on medical or legal problems. Some individuals elect to see a psychiatrist to alleviate their distress through the use of medication; others seek pastoral care to work on their spiritual/emotional struggles. Some may seek to change emotional difficulties through diet, exercise, or other methods. Each therapist has his/her own approach, or “theoretical orientation” in working with clients. You should free to ask questions at the beginning—or at any point in the process— about your counselor’s approach to the issues for which you are seeking help. You should also know that counseling can have both benefits and risks. Since counseling often involves discussing unpleasant aspects of your life, you may experience uncomfortable feelings like sadness, guilt, anger, frustration, loneliness, and helplessness. On the other hand, counseling has also been shown to have many benefits. It often leads to better relationships, solutions to specific problems, and significant reductions in feelings of distress. But there are no guarantees of what you will experience. Q A

How long will you need to be in Counseling? How long you remain in counseling is up to you. Although your counselor may provide feedback for you on this matter, you must make the ultimate decision about continuing care. However, we highly encourage you to thoroughly and candidly discuss your reasons for terminating counseling before doing so. Although you should not receive any undue pressure to continue counseling, it is generally a constructive experience for both client and counselor to discuss the desire to end counseling or to transfer to another counselor.

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Confidentiality in Professional Christian Counseling The law protects the privacy of all communications between a client and a therapist. In most situations, a therapist can only release information about your treatment to others if you sign a written Authorization form that meets certain legal requirements imposed by state law and/or HIPAA. Limits of Confidentiality Generally speaking, what you talk about in counseling is held in the strictest confidence. However, there are some situations in which a therapist is legally obligated to take actions that he/she believes are necessary to attempt to protect others from harm, and he/she may be required to reveal some information about your treatment. (A Professional Christian Counselor will go over these with you as you

Couple counseling is most successful when both individuals are willing to be completely open, not only with their counselor, but also with each other.

begin your first session.) •

If he/she has knowledge of a child under 18 or reasonably suspects that a child under 18 that he/she has observed has been the victim of child abuse or neglect, the law requires that he/she file a report with the appropriate governmental agency, usually the county welfare department. He/she also may make a report if he/she knows or reasonably suspects that mental suffering has been inflicted upon a child or that his or her emotional well being is endangered in any other way (other than physical or sexual abuse, or neglect). Once such a report is filed, he/she may be required to provide additional information.

If he/she observes or has knowledge of an incident that reasonably appears to be physical abuse, abandonment, abduction, isolation, financial abuse, or neglect of an elder or dependent adult, or if an elder or dependent adult credibly reports that he or she has experienced behavior including an act or omission constituting physical abuse, abandonment, abduction, isolation, financial abuse, or neglect, or reasonably suspects that abuse, the law requires that she report to the appropriate government agency. Once such a report is filed, he/she may be required to provide additional information.

If you communicate a serious threat of physical violence against an identifiable victim, he/she must take protective actions, including notifying the potential victim and contacting the police. He/she may also seek hospitalization or contact others who can assist in protecting the victim.

If he/she has reasonable cause to believe that you are in such mental or emotional condition as to be dangerous to yourself, he/she may be obligated to take protective action, including seeking hospitalization or contacting family members or others who can help provide protection.

NOTE: If such a situation arises, your therapist should make every effort to fully discuss it with you before taking any action and limit disclosures to what is necessary. Although this summary of exceptions to confidentiality for the State of California should prove helpful in informing you about potential problems, it is important that you and your therapist discuss any questions or concerns that you may have.

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Fees & Eligibility for Insurance Reimbursement Q

How much does Professional Christian Counseling cost?

A

Fees for professional services often vary depending on the counselors experience and training, as well as the customary charges for a particular region of the country, so you will need to call ahead and ask if cost is a concern. Most Professional Christian Counseling Centers strive to provide affordable services to meet the needs of individuals, couples, and families. If you are experiencing a financial hardship, ask if the Counseling Center offers free or low-cost programs, or sliding-scale fee.

Q A

Will I be able to use my insurance? Insurance companies operate on “the medical model.” That usually means a qualified mental health professional – a psychologist, psychotherapist, or psychiatrist – must determine and disclose a clinical diagnosis of a mental disorder before your insurance company will consider your claim. Professional Christian Counselors (as defined in this report) are qualified mental health professionals who assess and diagnose mental disorders. In addition to conducting clinical interviews with clients, a psychologist may administer standardized tests of intellect, personality, and/or achievement as needed for diagnosis and treatment planning. However, many men and women often seek counseling for reasons that may not be the result of a mental disorder. In fact, the number one reason people seek the help of a counselor is due to stress in a close relationship. Some insurance policies cover relationship or personal growth counseling, and others don’t. You should be aware that if you decide to use your insurance, you will be giving up some of the confidentiality afforded to you as a client. Your claim will be reviewed by your insurance company (one or more persons, who typically are not mental health professionals) to determine if they will pay for your counseling. They will also set limits on the number of sessions you may utilize according to what they think you need, and sometimes ask for a copy of your clinical records and/or a written report from your therapist to document your progress in their files. NOTE: You should always check with your counselor and your insurance company in advance to see if you will be reimbursed for counseling and psychological services.

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Finding the Right Christian Counselor Would you like to talk to a counselor who really understands (and cares) about what you’re going through right now? Are you looking for more effective ways to get your life on track? Then you’ll want to talk to someone who knows from experience that life circumstances can take us down the road in directions we hadn’t anticipated. And someone who can help you find the answers to some of life’s toughest problems. Finding the right counselor to help with your concerns can save you a lot of time and money and frustration! You need to feel comfortable with your choice, so most counselors offer a free phone consultation to help you decide. In seeking the help of a Christian mental health professional, we urge you to be wise consumers and to ask directly about a particular counselor’s qualifications. Factors which may be important to ask about include the counselor’s: • •

education and training, licensing or certification,

• •

professional experience, area(s) of specialization,

Christian perspective, fees and eligibility for insurance reimbursement.

If you live in Southern California and would like more information about our services, please visit us on the web at

www.OCChristianCounseling.com or call 800.705.6223 to schedule a free 15-minute phone consultation with one of our counselors. Mention this guide, and you will receive a 50% discount on your first in-person session!

We look forward to hearing from you!

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Resources Orange County Christian Counseling www.OCChristianCounseling.com 800.705.6223 Orange County Christian Couples www.OCChristianCouples.com California Board of Psychology www.psychboard.ca.gov California Board of Behavioral Sciences www.bbs.ca.gov Disclaimer: All information provided in this document is intended for educational purposes only.

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Copyright Š 2010 Orange County Christian Counseling www.OCChristianCounseling.com

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How to Find the Right Christian Counselor  

Know the right questions to ask before you begin

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