When I was in high school I probably would have told you that I wanted to be a “Christian counselor”. I said that with good intentions; I believed, and still do, that our deepest hurts and hardest struggles can be carried with God’s help, however, when I got to college and took a class on various Christian counseling techniques, I realized this wasn’t what I wanted. At the time, I was also taking another course on how to integrate my faith with science, which made me come to another important realization that, if I’m a Christian, my faith is going to be intertwined with everything I do, and slapping the word “Christian” on my business card wasn’t going to prove anything and would only narrow the amount of people I could reach.
I knew that getting a “secular” education about therapy would require extra effort on my part to discern how I’d hold onto my values while still becoming a competent and accepting therapist, but I intentionally chose this type of school because I had already done the Christian-school-thing and I had a deep desire to get to know people from different backgrounds and walks of life. It also helps that my program is one of the best in the state, but who’s bragging?
During our initiation into the MFT program, my cohort had to promise to accept all the effort and sacrifice it would take to become a therapist. Following this, one of our professors read a speech illustrating the qualities and values of a dedicated therapist. He spoke of the priority that therapists place on being vulnerable and open with other people, as well as the importance of building relationships and repairing broken ones. He stated that, as therapists, we needed to be trustworthy, dependable, and unwilling to give up.
Then he said, with teary eyes, and to my surprise, that love was one of the most imperative characteristics of a therapist. Love was powerful, and without it, a therapist could not carry out her or his duty to listen, heal, and guide others into growth. A therapist that had love would also have the ability to look past and put down their own biases, stereotypes, and pre-existing values in order to most fully help someone else. Love meant putting others before self.
So it seems that therapy, which was born out of the science of psychology, would emphasize love as the single most important foundation for the profession. And is it not also true that Jesus Himself spoke of love being the greatest thing that Christians cling to and give freely?
With honest love,