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Affordable Mental Health Options – Faith-Based Counseling Centers

Affordable Mental Health Options – Faith-Based Counseling Centers

The best mental health care does not only focus on one quality of the individual. If you want a person to feel better mentally, the treatment has to target the whole person, not only their mental health symptoms. For years, experts have known that many aspects of physical health, like the diet, exercise, and sleep patterns, have a significant influence on thoughts and feelings. 

Along the same lines, a person’s spiritual health impacts their mental health and overall well-being. By neglecting ideas of faith, religion, and spirituality in mental health treatment, symptoms may not diminish, and goals may not be accomplished.

Fortunately, a variety of faith-based mental health treatment options are available, and many are quite affordable for people in need. Anyone with the goal of improving their mental health through spirituality should definitely consider finding a faith-based counseling center from OpenCounseling's homepage.

Faith-Based Counseling Basics

Faith-based counseling includes any therapy with a focus on concepts involving religion, spirituality, or faith. Christian counseling is a primary form of this treatment style, but treatment providers can draw from other religions like Islam, Buddhism, or Judaism, as well.

Faith-based counseling approaches don’t exclusively subscribe to religion in particular as other options having a focus on spirituality. Spirituality places emphasis on fostering the connection to others, nature, and the planet, rather than a set of strict religious beliefs.

For people looking to connect mind, body, and soul into one counseling experience, faith-based options will be ideal. Those who do not place an importance on their religious or spiritual health will likely find this form of counseling unappealing.

The alternative to faith-based counseling is called secular counseling. Secular counseling can still touch on aspects of religion and spirituality, but these might not be central themes of treatment.

Faith-Based Counseling Options

Like secular counseling, faith-based therapy is available through a multitude of locations and types of settings. No single setting is right for everyone, and each has their own set of benefits and drawbacks.

Church Counseling

Church counseling refers to any counseling performed by a spiritual leader of the religion. This type of treatment involves you going to your place of worship, like a church, temple, or synagogue, to meet with your priest, pastor, rabbi, or another religious figure. 

Whereas other forms of treatment standardized policies and procedures, church counseling will deliver direction and guidance in a less formal and structured way. This loose format will result in less paperwork but also less consistency from church to church.

Faith-Based Counseling Agencies in the Community

Since faith-based counseling is a desirable form of therapy, religious groups have created a network of community treatment centers specializing in psychological services with a spiritual focus. Aside from the concentration on religion, these faith-based agencies will look like and function in ways similar to other community mental health centers.

You might also encounter individual providers in private practice who specialize in religious or spiritually-based treatment. Each provider will counsel with a unique style and set of beliefs.

Church-Based Counseling Options in Depth

Counseling services inside your church or place of worship come with a number of pros and cons, especially compared to other counseling options. Being aware of these benefits and drawbacks before starting treatment will help you make the best decision for your treatment.

Pro – Convenience

You already have a relationship with your spiritual leader, so it makes sense for you to seek therapy services from him or her. Over the years of religious services, you have an understanding of their stance and views, which reduces the risk of surprises during sessions.

Con – Confidentiality Issues

Good therapy relies on trust and confidentiality to move you towards your goals. If you know you will see your therapist outside of sessions or fear judgment, it might make you hold back from a higher level of honesty.

Pro – Comfort

Religious leaders tend to share many traits with professional counselors like kindness, patience, and understanding. They can offer advice and direction that fits perfectly with your religious beliefs.

Con – Lack of Credentials

Just because they share qualities with therapists does not make religious leaders professional counselors, though some will be. Without the proper education, experience, and supervision, church officials may be ill-equipped to treat severe mental health symptoms by offering only faith-based solutions to significant psychiatric concerns. 

Pro – Cost

You will rarely find a religious leader charging you for a meeting or counseling session. For those with limited resources, church-based counseling can be the most affordable treatment option.

Con – Rigid Belief System

You might encounter situations where your issues conflict with the views of religious-based treatments. If you become pregnant outside of marriage, experience domestic violence, question your sexuality, or are dissatisfied in your marriage, your religious leader may only offer feedback that fits the religious dogma, which can breed shame and guilt in some situations.

Faith-Based Community Counseling in Depth

Like community mental health centers, faith-based variants offer a team of licensed and experienced mental health professionals who are capable of providing tremendous resources to their clients. Examples of faith-based community counseling centers include:

  • Catholic Charities. 

  • Jewish Family Services.

  • Lutheran Family Services.

These centers offer a range of services like:

  • Individual, group, family and couples counseling.

  • Integrative care that combines behavioral health and medical treatment.

  • Workshops providing education regarding mental health and substance abuse issues.

  • Case managers to assess needs and assist with employment, housing, or transportation goals.

  • Pregnancy and parenting classes to counsel and educate new and soon-to-be parents. 

  • Adoption services to streamline the process.

  • Community outreach and social opportunities to connect with your community.

  • Special care and activities for seniors.

Faith-based treatment centers accept most insurances, and they often pride themselves on never turning away clients due to financial issues. Many offer sliding payment options, making services very affordable or even free.

Getting Started with Faith-Based Counseling

Initiating treatment at a Faith-based treatment center usually starts with a phone call. Let them know you are interested in starting therapy and ask about their procedures for getting started. You may need a separate phone call or meeting to establish payment terms.

After these first steps, you will attend an intake appointment with your therapist or an intake specialist. This evaluation will assess your medical and mental health history, current symptoms, stressors, coping skills, and goals to determine which treatments are the best fit for your needs.

The process of receiving counseling from your religious leader will vary by location, so plan to ask questions and make a few phone calls. When doing so, be sure to set the expectation that you are interested in more than informal discussions. Failure to do so could cause problems in the future due to miscommunication and misunderstandings.

Must-Ask Questions for Faith-Based Counseling

Faith-based counseling programs are some of the most affordable treatment options available, but they are also some of the most challenging programs to navigate. With a lack of standard care across settings, asking questions at all stages of the process will keep you safe and boost your chances of success.

Consider asking:

  • Who will be providing counseling services? What are their credentials?

  • Will my counselor be a professional or a layperson? What is their educational background?

  • What steps are taken to protect my privacy and confidentiality?

  • How will my faith affect treatment?

  • What is the fee for services and how is the cost determined?

  • What happens if my religious views differ from my counselor?

  • How often do I come to therapy? Are there any limits on my sessions?

  • Does my therapist receive regular supervision from a therapy expert?

Finding the best mental health care is always a balancing act. You want high-quality treatment that is affordable, convenient treatment from experts, and a therapist who is kind while pushing you towards your full potential. 

Achieving this balance by yourself is challenging, but starting the process at OpenCounseling helps streamline your journey towards faith-based or other counseling approaches. Great therapy is just a click away.

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Eric Patterson
Posted on 02/04/2019 by Eric Patterson

Eric Patterson is a licensed professional counselor from the Pittsburgh area who aims to help his clients improve their mental health and lead better lives. For the past 5 years, Eric has written extensively on the topics of mental health and addiction for various print and online sites with the goal of providing accurate and engaging content. Outside of work, Eric loves spending time with his family, listing to indie rock music, and going for long runs in the summertime.