This was originally published on Liberal America on March 31, 2017.
Many people who are not Christians are having trouble finding a counselor or therapist here in the South. There are many counseling centers here that say they are Christian, so it’s kind of hard to feel welcome when you are not a Christian yourself.
Leigh Drexler of South Carolina said this about her struggles:
“My family has always directed their point of view at me, but it has been a million times worse than normal. Every time we’re in a conversation, it’s either about the election or religion..I knew there would be Christian counselors here, but I didn’t think that was all I was going to find.”
I’m lucky in that my treatment team is okay with my lack of faith. Struggling with a mental illness or just with life itself can be difficult. For a counselor or therapist, discriminating against or refusing to see non-Christians is just wrong.
Here in the United States, the number of religious people has been going down over the last few years. According to a Pew Research poll, the number of non-religious people jumped from 16 to 22 percent between 2007 and 2014.
Conversely, many Christian counselors feel that they have to hide it. There is a kind of struggle between the disciplines of psychology and theology. However, there has been a rise in Christian therapy practices in the last few years. Some Christians in the South won’t go to a counselor or therapist who is not a Christian. So, there is discrimination on both sides of the issue.
It just seems strange to me.
Honestly, religion shouldn’t be this big of an issue with trying to find help. If you need spiritual guidance, go to a clergy person. Therapy should be about treating your mental illness. I just feel like there shouldn’t be discrimination. Mental illnesses are painful enough without religious discrimination surrounding treatment.