Is it important for the church to offer counseling for people in need? Siang-Yang Tan, Professor of Psychology at Fuller Theological Seminary explains the importance of lay-counseling and soul care in the church.
“Lay-counseling has always been a ministry of the church, for 2,000 years people have engaged in soul-care, psychotherapy came much later.”
In fact, the Bible even tells us to bear each other’s burdens, love one another, and encourage one another.
“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” – Galatians 6:2
“It’s a Biblical truth that we are to reach out in love to help one another, that’s what lay-counseling is all about.”
Sometimes, Christians are afraid of counseling and psychology because they believe that much of it was invented by famous atheists like Sigmund Freud.
“We think that Freud invented psychotherapy, but soul care was way before that.”
Siang-Yang believes that Christians can effective integrate spiritual direction into Christian counseling, but they must do it carefully.
“We have to do it ethically and well, but if you are truly a Christian counselor you aren’t just interested in symptom alleviation, eventually you want people to grow into maturity in Christ.”
Many struggle to see how religion and psychology can ever meet in a constructive way. However, according to Siang-Yang, it’s starting to happen.
“People in the church must realize that psychology is not as anti-religion as it used to be.”