Faith and Therapy
Updated: Apr 14, 2022
When I began therapy, the thought of sharing my thoughts about my faith to my therapist would make my heart beat a little faster, my palms got a little sweaty, and I felt my body get all tense. I was scared. I was afraid that my therapist would be judgmental, they may not really understand me, or they would make assumptions about me and not truly listen. I don’t know about you, but these are three characteristics I definitely do not want in a therapist. If you have had similar thoughts as me before starting therapy, you are not alone! In hearing people speak about their faith to their therapist I have realized that others feel this way as well.
However, my story ends on a very different note than it began. When my therapist asked me about my faith, I knew that it was a good thing to share with them, though it was scary. I took a deep breath and hesitantly told them piece by piece. As I told them, I saw how my therapist listened, like really listened. I slowly began to feel more and more as if I was being heard rather than judged.
Opening up to my therapist allowed me to see how beneficial it can be to bring faith into the therapy room. It showed me how keeping my faith locked away in a separate place that was far away from out of the room is keeping me, the real me, out of the room. If you are afraid of bringing up your faith in therapy, believe me I have been there. You may think that you and your therapist have different religions and this could cause conflict. Maybe you have been hurt or discriminated against in the past because of your religion? Maybe your religion looks different than many other people and you are unsure how your therapist will respond? Maybe you have been hurt by religious people in the past? These fears make sense, and it is important that you listen to yourself and assess your fears. Ask, “where are they coming from, what would be most helpful to me, and how can I move forward”?
Also, I want to encourage you to go to therapy. Don’t let concerns like this keep you away from getting the help you need. Therapy can be so wonderful and being hurt in the past or fears about being hurt should not get to keep you from getting the help that you deserve. The following are tips that helped me move forward in therapy. I hope they can be helpful to you too!
Be open to telling your therapist that your religion and/ or spirituality is a sensitive topic for you.
Think about how your religion impacts your identity as a person.
Consider what you hope to benefit from therapy and how your faith may be a part of that journey.
However, I realize that this is not a perfect world and unfortunately my experience may not be your experience. While I hope that when you enter into therapy you will find a therapist that is welcoming and accepting. If this is not the case, the following are some thoughts to consider:
You own the rights to choose your own therapist. I want to encourage you to feel empowered to find the therapist that is going to support you on your journey.
Having a poor experience with another therapist can be a topic to bring up in a current therapy session. Being vulnerable with someone only to be hurt can be super helpful to process with a therapist that you trust.
Trust yourself and listen to how you are feeling. You deserve to have the right therapist who accepts every part of you!