Is Christian Counselling Effective in Helping Couples?

by Michael Hart, MA,CCC

Christian Counselling is now growing in terms of its popularity all around the world. Gone are the days when anything to do with religion was looked upon by psychologists and counsellors as being detrimental to one’s mental health. A plethora of studies have now shown that spiritual belief, a belief in a power greater than one’s self, can lead to better mental health. Studies have also shown that spiritual beliefs can be a potent tool in overcoming challenges such as additions and depression. In fact, many of the 12 Steps recovery programs, such as alcoholic anonymous, have as one of their steps the necessity to trust in a higher power. The second step of the Alcoholic Anonymous program states that for recovery to take place, a participant must come to a place in their lives where they “believe that a power greater than [themselves] could restore [them] to sanity.” The verdict is out there that Christian Counselling is effective for counselling individuals, but what about the effectiveness of Christian Counselling when dealing with couple related issues such as conflict, sex, finance etc. ? This article will give three reasons why Christian Counselling can be an effective tool in couples counselling.

Biblical Examples of Relationship Difficulties: One of the main reasons that Christian Counselling can be effective in helping couples is that the Bible has many stories of couples who have gone through the challenges that are currently being experienced by couples today. Such stories may enlighten couples by showing the pitfalls of wrong actions or by showing productive ways to overcome challenges. A few examples of biblical stories are: the story of Abraham and Sarah—an example of a couple struggling with the inability to have a child; Jacob and Rachel—an example of a couple reeling from the effect of an over involved in-law; and the story of Mary and Joseph—a couple struggling with the suspicion of infidelity. By pointing to these stories in a strategic and timely manner a therapist can begin move clients from despair to hope.

The Bible as A Guide for Living: The second reason why Christian Counselling can be effective for couples is that, generally speaking, Christian couples see the Bible as a guide for living. In this regard, the Bible can be a very effective tool in helping couples work through their difficulties. For example, in dealing with a couples strife or communication difficulties, verses from the Bible such as Proverbs 15:1 which states, “a soft answer turns away wrath but grievous words stir up anger,” can be very helpful in teaching communication strategies. In dealing with sexual issues such as selfishness in the bedroom, or sexual abstinence without a partner’s consent, a therapist may strategically guide clients to verses such as 1 Corinthians 7 which reads, “Do not deprive one another [of sex] except perhaps by agreement for a limited time…” (1 Cor. 7:5). These verses, if used in a timely and strategic manner can be helpful in helping Christian couples move from conflict to harmony.

The Bible as a Source of Hope and Comfort: When a couple in great distress comes before a therapist, one of the first tasks of the therapist is to help the partners contain their emotions. It is very difficult to make any kind of progress if emotions are spiraling out of control and partners are feeling hopeless about their situation. Because many Christian couples turn to the scriptures as a source of hope and comfort in times of trouble, the bible can be a very powerful tool in helping to contain the emotions of couples so that the work of healing can begin. Bible verses such as Psalms 46:1, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble,” can bring hope and comfort to troubled couples. Another verse that inspires comfort and hope is Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” (NLT).

A Word Of Caution: Christian Counselling can undoubtedly be a powerful and effective brand of counselling for helping Christian couples work through their difficulties. However, it should be noted that, just as with any other kind of counselling, there are risks involved. Couples seeking Christian Counselling should do their homework and make sure that their counsellor is truly a Christian counsellor and is trained in incorporating spirituality with psychology. For more information about selecting the right counsellor, read my article entitled, “The Anatomy of a Good Christian Counsellor.”

Copyright ©2013, Elim Counselling Service

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About Michael Hart

Michael Hart is a highly qualified psychotherapist whose training and experience allow him to use the respected Canadian Certified Counsellor (CCC) designation of the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association. As Director of Elim Counselling Services, Michael not only offers counselling to clients, but leads Kingdom Life Workshops and hosts a counselling radio show, Life Transformations. Michael is a dynamic presenter and a gifted communicator who presents serious topics in a way that is easily understood and very entertaining. His academic writings and research have earned him two St. Peter's Awards from St. Paul University in Ottawa for excellence in the area of Christian Spirituality. Michael is mentioned on the Christian Counselling Network as a Christian Counsellor having the qualifications and training in both theology and counselling and as such is recognized as being a Christian Counsellor who not only goes by the name but is truly qualified to offer professional Christian Counselling.

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