With so many professionals out there, how do you pick the right person to work with? The single most important factor is to find someone who understands and shares your core value base. For us Catholics, that would mean someone who is a practicing Catholic, living a life true to the Magisterium of the Church. You want someone who not only knows, but cherishes, his/her Catholic faith.

Catholic counseling vs. secular counseling. What are the differences and similarities? As a general rule, both Catholic counseling and secular counseling share the same desire to help people overcome their problems, find meaning and joy in life, and become healthy and well-adjusted individuals, both mentally and emotionally. The word “counseling” can have multiple meanings, including offering advice and encouragement, sharing wisdom and skills, setting goals, resolving conflict, etc. A major part of counseling is resolving and restoring conflicts between people.

Catholic counseling is distinct from secular counseling in that it specifically incorporates the spiritual dimension, Biblical truths, and a seeking of God’s will in an individual’s life. Catholic counselors understand that the Bible has a lot of practical wisdom about human nature, marriage and family, human suffering, and so much more.

One of the main problems with secular counseling is that psychology puts the self at the center of things. It is all about discovering the self and actualizing the self. The problem is that everything is directed by what the selfwants. It comes down to “my will be done.”

Catholics, on the other hand, respect the life and unique personhood of each individual. And we see our lives in a much larger context. We have an eternal perspective. We see ourselves as sons and daughters of a loving God. We are creatures created by a divine Creator. We believe that we are created by Love, out of Love, for Love. This is worlds away from the secular outlook! We consider God’s will, as in “Thy will be done.”

Secular therapists say that they are “value neutral.” As a society, we have been drowning in this nonspiritual garbage for years. We know the truth: God is the source of all goodness; so therefore, no good exists outside of God! Since healing is good, another certainty follows: All healing comes from God! Thus, God is the source of all healing; there is no healing outside of Him!

Jeff Bates