Over the years I have received numerous e-mails asking the same question: What must I do to become a Christian counselor? I thought it would be well to provide my response for others who might have the same question.
As in any pursuit, here are two very important steps:
- Bathe it in prayer. What is God’s desire for you? – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight” (Prov. 3:5-6).
- As you are praying, learn as much as you can about it. Sometimes the more you know, the more that passion grows. But, sometimes the opposite happens.
You also need to determine where you want to go with it, how you want to use it. Do you want to become a professional counselor or do you want to do lay or peer counseling, perhaps as a ministry in your church?
This should become clearer as you invest prayer into it and gain a greater understanding of counseling.
The answer to that question will point you toward your next steps:
If lay counseling, a certificate program could be sufficient. A good starting point could be the site of the AACC, the American Association of Christian Counselors. They have some courses that could be of great benefit to you.
If professional counseling, you will undoubtedly need to have a degree, probably even a Master’s Degree, to get licensed in your state. Each state varies in their requirements and procedures so you should check with your state government with questions you have about state requirements. It could be helpful to network with a Christian counselor or two in your area to learn from them what procedures they followed.
An example: As of the writing of this post, Pennsylvania requires you have both a bachelor’s and master’s degree to get licensed. The Master’s degree must be 60 credits. You also have to do 3600 hours of supervised counseling and take and pass the National Counselor’s Exam. — Where you are located could be different.
If you do not get licensed, then you should be careful in calling yourself a counselor as with that can come liabilities. People who are professional counselors usually purchase liability insurance. Those who live in the United States can get some ideas on that at the American Professional Agency.
Some use the term “Biblical Life Coach.”
Some put it under the umbrella of discipleship.
At minimum, you should refer to your counseling as “lay counseling” and not just “counseling” so as to denote that you are not doing this as a professional.
Here are some additional helps on the MinTools.com site:
Counseling Ministry Training – This is primarily for lay counseling, not professional counseling.
Counseling Ministry Resources – Most of these links will take you to other sites.