A degree in Christian Counseling lets you pursue a great number of different career areas. Working with individuals, small groups, families, or larger populations, you can use your knowledge of psychology and the Christian religion to help people in need. Because counselors are educated in many subjects within the field of counseling, they can provide guidance on topics ranging from marriage to substance abuse.
While all certified counselors are qualified to offer advice and support on a number of subjects, Christian counselors differ by deriving this guidance directly from the teachings of the Bible, instead of just from psychological principles. For this reason, Christian counselors often work in positions associated specifically with Christian organizations and churches.
Subjects Within Counseling
- Family counseling: Counselors work with families to help them learn how to create cohesiveness, how to interact with each other in supportive ways, and how to resolve conflict effectively. They often work with each member individually in order to foster an emotionally healthy family as a whole.
- Marriage counseling: Counselors can work with a couple to help them improve their relationship. Sometimes this counseling involves only one individual; sometimes both partners. These counselors help a couple to work through their conflicts and restore their love for one another. A counselor can also provide a space for dialogue and problem solving related to a couple's behaviors, interactions, roles, and beliefs.
- Premarital counseling: Counselors can help a couple prepare for their upcoming marriage by creating or strengthening a healthy, viable relationship such that it provides the foundation for a loving, successful marriage.
- Child counseling: Counselors work with youths who need help mentally or emotionally dealing with the issues of their adolescence. These might involve school, family, friends, relationships, self-esteem, mental health, self-image, puberty, and more.
- Mental health counseling: Counselors assist people of any age who have issues regarding their mental health. They can help them make constructive changes to their thought patterns and lifestyles, and cover issues such as eating disorders, phobias, anxiety, suicidal tendencies, Alzheimer's Disease, dementia, self-harming, and stress. Clients may range from people who suffer from slight depression to people with serious lifelong mental illnesses such as schizophrenia or split personality disorder.
- Addiction counseling: Counselors work with individuals or groups who have developed a dependence on alcohol, drugs, sex, smoking, exercise, food, or gambling. They specialize in understanding the addictive process, and work with individuals to help them change self-destructive habits and tendencies.
- Depression counseling: Counselors help individuals who suffer from situational or chronic depression, helping them treat their symptoms, come to terms with issues related to their illness, and resolve the root causes of their depression.
Typical Places of Employment
- Private office: Here, a counselor conducts private counseling sessions for individuals, couples, or families. This counselor may meet with a client just once, or many times over a series of weeks, months, or years. He or she is paid per session rather than by salary.
- Church: Many churches hire a Christian counselor to work as a professional source of wisdom, guidance, support, and advice to their congregation. While ministers and other church leaders often offer these same services, a certified or licensed counselor can offer this same help from a specifically educated, professional standpoint.
- School: Religiously affiliated schools hire Christian counselors to provide support for the students attending their school. They serve many of the same functions as a secular school counselor, but also offer religious counsel related to students' lives and studies, and related to the school's mission.
- Foster care/adoption agency: Counselors may offer their services to children living in foster homes, to those being adopted, and to the families who choose to foster or adopt them. These counselors help the children learn to adapt to their new home environment, and teach the family how to integrate the new member into their lives lovingly and successfully.
- Hospital: Many hospitals have chapels, and hire Christian counselors to be available there. In addition, they provide guidance and prayer for the sick and ailing who ask for help from a religious leader, and are also available to talk to their families.
- Funeral home: These counselors provide support for families of the deceased.
- Homeless shelter: Many religious organizations offer shelter to the homeless, and provide counseling services to those seeking out temporary housing arrangements. A large number of the people arriving at these homes have been emotionally or physically abused, and a Christian counselor helps these individuals to deal with their personal issues.
The Salary of Christian Counselors vs. Secular Counselors
A Christian counselor earns about the same as a secular counselor. Certified/licensed Christian counselors can earn between $35,000 and $75,000 per annum. If you have five or more years' experience, you can reasonably charge anywhere from $25 to over $100 per hour for individual counseling sessions. You are likely to earn roughly the same whether you work for a private practice or are self-employed.
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American Association of Pastoral Counselors
Breyer State University
Calvin Institute of Christian Worship
Serving in Mission
Christian Broadcasting Network
Ohio State University Medical Center
Schools in the USA