A Christian psychologist differs from a Christian counselor in most cases. Both can help people who are having problems in their lives or who are suffering from mental illness, but a Christian psychologist is usually a licensed psychologist who has completed doctoral level work in psychology, earning a Psy.D or PhD. These professionals have also completed all of the requirements for practicing in their home state or country. This person is referred to as a “Christian” oriented therapist because they hold strong Christian beliefs that can inform their work in whole or in part, which could include individual therapy, school counseling, ministerial counseling, counseling members of a specific church, or teaching.
Because of his or her training, the Christian psychologist is not limited to treating only Christians, but could treat anyone. However, if a client believes that a counselor’s viewpoints are imposing or contradictory to personal beliefs, problems may arise, which is not a psychologist’s job. The term “Christian” is frequently used to help people choose their psychologists, determining whether they want any type of faith-based discussion in therapy and, if so, whether that faith should be Christian. People who do not have strong religious beliefs or who follow a different faith would not seek the services of a Christian psychologist.
On the other hand, this counselor’s faith advertisement attracts as many people as it repels. This provides Christian psychologists with a variety of options. Some work in private practices, where they may provide individual, group, or family therapy to people of similar religious beliefs. These counselors could also lead Christian and psychosocial groups to deal with anxiety, depression, and loss. Many churches now require couples to have premarital counseling, which can be provided an approved Christian psychologist working in a private setting.
A psychologist could be hired a church to provide counseling to church members for free or at a low cost, while still performing many of the activities listed above. Some of these psychologists may work with members of religious orders as counselors. They may be priests, nuns, or ministers with a psychology degree, but they do not always identify as Christian psychologists. Helping those with whom they work and live could be a part of their ministry.
Christian psychologists may be able to find work as school counselors or psychologists. Students in Christian schools may require just as much mental health support. Learning specialists, on the other hand, may be required schools to diagnose learning disabilities, administer educational tests, and suggest ways to manage learning disabilities at home and at school.
Christian psychologists can also teach in Christian high schools and colleges, usually in psychology classes. These psychologists could be particularly beneficial in Christian colleges. They can discuss how to combine psychology and faith-based counseling, as well as how to help students learn all of the necessary aspects of psychology while also discussing how this relates to sharing faith with clients.
This title has an unsettling quality in that it is extremely broad. There are significant differences in spiritual beliefs among the various Christian sects. The Christian psychologist may need to be a little more open about the type of Christianity he or she practices, especially in private therapy settings, because a large gap between the client’s spiritual beliefs and the counselor’s can cause problems. In general, however, shared faith can be beneficial in a variety of ways.