Thinking Out Loud

June 4, 2017

Christian Counseling: A New Paradigm Where Churches Buy Services in Bulk

Filed under: Christianity, Church — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 12:59 pm

One of the local churches my wife and I are involved with is part of a service which may or may not be unique to our part of the world.  The Congregational Assistance Plan (CAP) is one of many services of Shalem Mental Health Network — pronounced ShaLAME — an organization based in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Although I’ve never availed myself of this service so far, basically, in exchange for an annual fee, the organization has a list of members and adherents of this church and if someone on the list needs help, they call the number and arrange a meeting. The church receives a total number of the people who used the service that month, but not names. The local church in question is the first in its denomination to sign on for the program.

Here’s how the organization describes it:

CAP enables churches to make short-term professional Christian counselling support available to their members.

  • local professional, Master’s degree-level Christian counsellors
  • available to all church members and adherents
  • up to six sessions per year for each member
  • services are anonymous and strictly confidential
  • provided at no cost to the church member
  • CAP works seamlessly behind the scenes in your congregation.

This is a win-win. I especially like the last point, “CAP works seamlessly behind the scenes.”

Christian counseling can be expensive. This is something we learned as a family a few summers ago. But for some people a listening ear and some direction is much needed. (They also work with at least one Christian university we’re familiar with.

This blog goes all over the U.S., Canada and the world. I hope people of influence can study this model to see if it has application where you live.



  1. Sadly, I’m far more familiar with the horror stories of Christian counseling gone wrong than I am with instances where it all worked out alright for everyone. So I tend to hear the words “Christian counseling” and start running in the opposite direction. Sometimes Christians are good for being a listening ear, but it’s true professionals who can diagnose problems that need a little more help than prayer alone can provide.

    Comment by Jamie Carter — June 4, 2017 @ 1:16 pm

    • So a counselor can’t be a professional and be a Christian? You’re disputing the first of the six bullet points above?

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — June 4, 2017 @ 3:18 pm

      • The horror stories I’ve heard are all Christian counselors who believe that professional secular counseling is wrong. It’s full of stories where they tell people suffering from depression to just keep on praying, have them repeat Bible verses, and call it good enough. It’s deserved a terrible reputation for a reason. I always figured that there were some instances where a professional counselor will have to leave his or her faith at the door and advise people to do things that Christianity might not agree with.

        Comment by Jamie Carter — June 5, 2017 @ 5:36 am

  2. Over a year ago I attended a funeral of a university professor who was a Christian. He was a believer in theistic evolution, but that’s not the point here. At his funeral someone said, “He didn’t leave his science at the door when he came to church, and he didn’t leave his faith in the parking lot when he went to work.” I think that in the last 20-30 years there have indeed been some horror stories that were the result of what was termed “Biblical counseling.” However, when our youngest son needed this program, it was there for him, and the counsel he got was the result of the counselor spending many years studying psychology and behavioral science and earning the above-mentioned Masters Degree.

    Really, the point of the whole article is that this is something that pastors are not educated in extensively. There are times they need to defer to someone better trained. But that person doesn’t have to “leave their faith at the door.”

    I think you’ve encountered (directly or indirectly) some really negative experiences, and perhaps the phrase “Christian counseling” is a real trigger for you, but please don’t assume the people in this story are not professional.

    Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — June 5, 2017 @ 9:24 am

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