The impact of Christian counselling on survivors of sexual abuse
The absence of research and growing involvement of Christians in all areas of counselling gave rise to this study which explores the impact of Christian counselling on adult survivors of sexual abuse. The sample of 44 women and 5 men from an inter-denominational, self-help network, completed a self-report questionnaire of perceived Christian and professional counselling experiences involving issues of trust, power, directive approach, use of prayer and Scripture, responsibility and outcome. Results show that Christian counselling is experienced as qualitatively different from professional counselling: Christian counsellors are perceived as significantly more directive and more powerful than professional counsellors and the overall outcome was perceived more negatively. A number of key factors were identified which influenced the negative experience of some Christian counselling. These included having experience of professional counselling, an emphasis on the use of prayer and Scripture, perceiving the counsellor to have different goals from the client, feeling blamed for continued distress and having prior experience of prayer ministry. Implications for counselling practice and training are discussed.
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