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Seeing a Religious Therapist as an Irreligious Patient

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After years of trying to overcome my fear of opening up and being judged, I finally started therapy again last week. My problem is this: I just found out that the counseling service I’ve started going to is based out of a baptist church and my therapist is very clearly religious (shares religious posts on facebook [and yes, I checked her facebook page after the first appointment], bible verse plaques all over the office, etc.).

My anger toward religion has nothing to do with why I’m going to therapy right now, but I’m worried that being open about my disdain for god and about other habits like drinking too much will color her opinion of me and make getting help more difficult.

Had I known these things before making the appointment, I would’ve found someone else just to be safe, but the whole process of finding a different therapist is stressful and takes weeks just to get an initial visit. Her listing on Psychology Today says nothing about being a Christian counselor and she does list other things like alcoholism and drug abuse as topics she covers.

Should I be worried about judgement? I can live with the fact that she’s religious as long as our sessions don’t turn into some kind of spiritual-based approach

Seeing a Religious Therapist as an Irreligious Patient

Answered by on -

A.

You should discuss your concerns with your therapist. Be honest about your stance on religion. Honesty in therapy is paramount. You may be able to continue working with her despite her religious views. You won’t know until you discuss it with her.

Having said that, it’s possible that her advice will be filtered through the lens of religion. Given that her counseling practice takes place in a church, that should not come as a surprise.

The decision to keep a therapist should not hinge on the inconvenience of finding another one. It’s well worth your time and effort to find the right therapist. I usually recommend calling four to five therapists and speaking with them on the phone about the issues you would like help with and choosing the ones with whom you feel the most comfortable to meet in person. If you want good help, it often takes time and diligent research.

You will either be okay with a religious therapist or you will not be okay with it. Gather more information, perhaps give it more time and see how you feel and then decide your next move. If you feel a little better after each session, that is a good sign. It will take more time and more sessions to know with certainty. Good luck and please take care.

Seeing a Religious Therapist as an Irreligious Patient

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist and Assistant Professor of Social Work and Forensics with extensive experience in the field of mental health. She works in private practice with adults, adolescents and families. Kristina has worked in a large array of settings including community mental health, college counseling and university research centers.

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2018). Seeing a Religious Therapist as an Irreligious Patient. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 21, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2018/05/24/seeing-a-religious-therapist-as-an-irreligious-patient/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 22 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 22 May 2018
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.