My Life/Teen Life You Need Jesus… and a Therapist by Emily Clare Burt I remember sitting down in the chair right across from my counselor for the first time, realizing that I was unintentionally dressed in all black. Immediately, I thought, “Oh gosh, she’s going to think I’m some emo college student who’s just here to rant and cry to her.” However, as we started talking, my insecurities started to settle and I felt heard as I explained what was on my heart. Maybe the thought of therapy or counseling scares you. Or maybe you’re wishful and hopeful to start. The reality is, there are lots of different thoughts and emotions tied to going to therapy… and rightly so. Opening up the wounded parts of your heart requires vulnerability and courage. By doing so, though, small seeds of hope are nurtured and allow for an opportunity of growth and change. If you’re letting Jesus into those parts of your heart, He can offer you real healing; but He will also use things like counseling or therapy to allow you to experience His love and divine healing. No Problem is Too Big… or Too Small If you’re like me, your insecurities might feel like the greatest roadblock in starting counseling. Sometimes we feel as if our problems might be either too big or too small to bring to someone. There is a tendency to get caught up in a wrong mindset in which our wounds burden others, or, are a waste of another’s time. However, this is the gift of counseling. Counseling gives us the freedom to open up about certain situations that we might not be able to completely work through ourselves. By finding the right counselor that fits you, they are able to professionally direct us to where our thoughts, emotions, and actions are meant to go. Remember, their job is to help YOU! Be Open In this entire process, openness and vulnerability are key — not only in therapy sessions but also with yourself and your parents. Having a conversation with your parents about seeking counseling might feel like ripping your chest open. That being said, any act of love rooted in Christ alone will always bear fruit. Acknowledging the need and seeking help is an authentic form of loving the soul God has given you. If your family is part of the hurt and brokenness you are experiencing, first let me say: I am so sorry. You are loved. Secondly, the Lord desires for those relationships to be healed. One of the most incredible things about our faith is that Jesus established God as our Father. The Father’s love is healing and repairs the woundedness of our hearts when we let Him in. Ask for the Father to give you strength, guidance, and courage when approaching your parents about seeking help. Finally, be open to your friends. Most likely, they too are yearning for and/or are pursuing some form of counseling. If not, being honest about your own personal journey can be of witness and encouragement for others. Surrounding yourself with supportive, loving, and uplifting friends is crucial in the path to authentic healing. Not only this but throughout time, your friends can hold you accountable with your personal growth along with the help of counseling. Overall, don’t be ashamed to share your journey! Rather, invite them in. Next Steps So you’re ready to take the next step. How do you even choose a therapist? Should they be Catholic? Finding the right therapist always comes with trial and error. Here’s the good news: It’s completely normal! Part of the journey of seeking help is that it won’t be perfect all the time. You might find a therapist that is a great fit from the beginning! Or, it might take a couple of tries before you find the therapist that is right for you. Amongst all this, do not become discouraged. The Lord will guide and direct you in all things and lead you to where you need to be. But should they be Catholic or Christian? Our faith and relationship with Christ is the most important thing in this earthly life. That being said, therapy and spiritual direction are two very different things. Both of these are incredibly helpful and beneficial in our walk with our mental health and the Lord. However, one should not become the other. Therapy unpacks our emotional and mental processes in order to further understand ourselves and certain situations. Meanwhile, spiritual direction primarily focuses on our personal relationship with Christ. Our spirituality will always and forever be tied to every aspect of our lives. Therefore, true deliverance and healing for our hearts can only be brought to completion through the Father. Therapy can bring us into a deeper understanding of ourselves, which can help us realize where we need to let God work healing. There are a lot of benefits that can come from having a Christian/Catholic counselor, but at the end of the day, it is not absolutely necessary. However, if you find yourself with a non-Christian counselor, have wisdom in where they may direct or point you to. It’s also important to be upfront with your counselor about the necessary role your faith plays in your life. If you conclude that they might be pointing you to places for consolation other than God, consider searching for a new therapist. All in all, make sure that therapy is bringing you closer to God’s love rather than pulling you away. The Lord desires for you to be healthy, healed, happy, and holy. On our walk of faith and life, we fall and sometimes we need help. When Jesus carried the cross, He Himself, King of King and Lord of Lords, fell three times. As humans, we need help to carry our crosses and to get back up. Counseling can be one of those ways in which we search for healing and guidance. However, without the Lord, we can only try to heal ourselves so much. By recognizing our brokenness and seeking help through Him and through therapy, God can work in ways to show us His unending love, which is truly healing and life-giving.