What defines a Christian counselor? When should you integrate faith in your sessions? Why is it important to ensure that you listen to the needs of your client when it comes to faith in therapy?
In this podcast episode, Whitney Owens speaks to William Hemphill about calling yourself a Christian counselor.
Meet William Hephill II
William Hemphill, II, is a counselor, pastor, and speaker. As a husband who has been married for over 23 years and a father who adopted three children, he understands the rewards and challenges of maintaining a strong marriage and blending a family.
In his practice, he works with individuals who value their faith, couples who want to strengthen or rebuild their relationships, and with adoptive families in building loving connections. He is the author of the book Praying With Your Spouse: A Secret To Building Intimacy In Your Marriage.
Listen to his podcast here. Email William at firstname.lastname@example.org
In This Podcast
- How William got into the counseling world
- Calling himself a Christian counselor
- What defines a Christian counselor
- Forming first relationships with pastors
- Faith and Family Matters
- Giving people a choice
How William got into the counseling world
When William was in seminary training, a professor told him that every pastor should have a therapist, so in the midst of his training, he took that to heart and went to see a therapist, who he actually still sees today. This therapist is a faith-based counselor and William always thought that it might be cool to integrate those two aspects. He did some work with people in hospitals and hospices but only for one or two sessions and knew that he wanted to do more in-depth work. In 2013, when his mother passed away, William decided to get his mental health counseling degree and from there knew that he wanted to operate in private practice.
Calling himself a Christian counselor
We need to let people know we’re out there and so we have to be at a place where people are searching, that they can find us in order to get the help. And so, a lot of that has to do with the decision so that people could find me, so I’d be able to work with them.
William operates more as a pastoral counselor or chaplain mainly because of his experiences and being able to work with people in their faith and help them navigate through different issues. Identifying as a Christian counselor was partly a business decision as more people look for Christian counseling than pastoral counseling.
What defines a Christian counselor
I might have some personal prayer before a session, and just ask God to guide me in the session so I can be an instrument of grace to make a difference.
A Christian counselor is someone who has some authenticity and understanding of your faith as a Christian. Personally, William doesn’t think that is necessary to talk about your faith in every session because it is the client’s session. It is the client’s job to bring the information and it is the counselor’s job to hold the container. If a faith story or biblical passage can help a client to do the work that is needed then it can be a very powerful tool. As long as you have an understanding of the Christian faith and can ethically integrate that into your work, then you can call yourself a Christian counselor.
Forming first relationships with pastors
- Reach out via email or call to let them know that you’re a counselor in the area.
- Have coffee with them and see how you might be able to help them in ministry.
- Offer something like a marriage workshop or something on dealing with grief – this can make a big difference in the congregation, especially in a small to a medium church where the pastor is serving a ton of roles.
Faith and Family Matters
I believe a lot of the work that we do as counselors is helping people to live out their faith more authentically, and be more authentic as to who God made each of us.
William’s podcast is about faith, family, society, and mental health. Lately, William has put a lot of emphasis on issues dealing with Coronavirus and race in society as it has affected so many people. He has some interviews where he and his wife have talked about their relationships and also have some solo episodes and interviews on issues of faith, family, adoption, etc. William’s goal is to make families whole and that is the emphasis of his ministry.
Giving people a choice
There’s nothing wrong with having a bias. Everybody has a bias. Our job is not to enforce that on someone but make the room a safe place for people to process their work. And if faith allows them to process their work and become better individuals, then we share our faith stories and what God has given us as gifts to do that.
One of the worst things that you can do as a therapist is to try and force your beliefs on someone. Jesus did not force himself on anyone, he shared the gospel but didn’t force people to believe in it, he gave them the choice. Therapists are there to be gentle with people and where they’re at, not to force anything down anyone’s throat.
Books by William Hemphill
- Dr. Judy Seeger on How to Profit & Keep Patient Retention In Your Holistic Business Using Videos (Even If You’re Camera Shy) | FP 42
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Meet Whitney Owens
Whitney is a licensed professional counselor and owns a growing group practice in Savannah, Georgia. Along with a wealth of experience managing a practice, she also has an extensive history working in a variety of clinical and religious settings, allowing her to specialize in consulting for faith-based practices and those wanting to connect with religious organizations.
Knowing the pains and difficulties surrounding building a private practice, she started this podcast to help clinicians start, grow, and scale a faith-based practice. She has learned how to start and grow a successful practice that adheres to her own faith and values. And as a private practice consultant, she has helped many clinicians do the same.
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