How Do You Become A Christian Counselor?

Christian CounselingSomeone of the Christian faith who wants a career in counseling may wonder what steps to take to become a Christian counselor. There are many people who, as counselors who have little or no training in psychology or in human behaviors. This is true in the Christian arena as well. There are no laws against untrained people being “advice-givers,” and no provision for regulating them. If you are interested in becoming a credentialed professional, however, you must map out a career path.

Education is Crucial

Many people who call themselves Christian counselors have knowledge of the Bible. That, in itself, is not sufficient to be an effective counselor. Societal issues like divorce, substance abuse, domestic violence and sexual orientation are complex. Offering a simple Bible verse, no matter how much truth it bears, in response to problems amounts to muttering platitudes. Christian counselors use counseling techniques and understanding of human behavior to show clients how to apply Biblical truth. According to Degree Directory, starting with a bachelor’s degree in Christian counseling from an accredited Bible school or Christian university is the first step. These degree programs offer the fundamentals in Old and New Testament teachings, in counseling techniques and ethics and in several types of counseling including marriage and family, addiction and child psychology. You could stop with the undergraduate degree and offer counseling informally through a church but, to be a counselor you must be licensed through the state and licensure is awarded only to those with graduate degrees. In addition to a master’s degree, most licensing boards require applicants to have a minimum of two years of supervised experience and to pass an examination. Often, people who already hold graduate degrees enter Christian schools to get certification in Biblical counseling. They also can add a specialization to their degrees that allow them to work primarily with selected populations such as children, the elderly or those with substance abuse.

What Kind of Certification or Licensure is Needed

There are several organizations that offer credentials to counselors. Secular certification such as state licensure is certainly an option for those who want to become Christian counselors if they understand the restrictions that such licensing implies. State-certified counselors may not invoke religious beliefs unless the client initiates the subject. According to Education Portal, while there is no specific license for a Christian counselor, you must be licensed by the state or another entity to be a practicing counselor. Christian counselors may elect to be licensed through faith-based organizations such as the National Christian Counselors Association. In addition to a license, counselors may earn voluntary certification through organizations such as the National Board for Certified Counselors. A National Certified Counselor credential is different from a state license, but some states allow license applicants to pass the NBCA exam instead of the state exam for licensing. To maintain any recognized counseling credential, professionals must take continuing education classes.

Related Resource: Become a Marriage and Family Counselor

There are standards of professionalism that apply to counselors, whether Christian or secular. These standards include adequate education and regulation through approved entities. A graduate degree from an accredited Christian university or school and approved certification will give someone the credibility to become  a Christian counselor.