What to Expect from a Catholic Therapist

Deciding to bring your Catholic faith into your therapy sessions can either bring you feelings of peace or feelings of anxiety. Your response will largely depend on the relationship and experiences you have had with God, the church, and your church community. 

Integrating your faith based beliefs into your therapy sessions is a personal choice and it is optional as well. Some individuals will only resort to Catholic therapists while others steer away from them and instead opt for a secular therapist.

I will share a little bit of my personal experience in hopes to bring clarity to those who are trying to decide if a Catholic therapist is a good fit for them. When I received therapy services for the first time, I went to a secular therapist. I wanted to process my divorce and my new life as a single mother. I participated in the initial assessment and never returned. 

There was a disconnect between the therapist and I. She had difficulty understanding the magnitude of what it meant to be a divorced single mother within the Catholic church and the feelings of shame and guilt that came with it. With time, I found a Catholic therapist. I was intrigued, but I was also hesitant to contact her. I didn’t know what to expect. I feared being judged due to my current life situation. 

I built enough courage to contact her and we scheduled the first appointment. There was an immediate connection. I did not have to explain myself. She understood my feelings along with the terminology of the Catholic church such as “decree of nullity” and the meaning behind the “sacrament of marriage.”

When I became a licensed therapist, I knew I also wanted to create a safe and comforting space for my clients to process their mental health through the lens of our shared Catholic faith. 

As I continue to work in the field of mental health, I have had the opportunity to meet other Catholic therapists who also create safe spaces for individuals from different walks of life; divorcees, infertility, abortions, LGBTQ, married couples, single parents, and single adults. 

Below you will find a list of the characteristics that will help you gain a better understanding of what you should expect from a Catholic therapist:

  1. To acknowledge and value you as a child of God.
  2. To walk with you in your journey of healing.
  3. To help you see yourself as God sees you.
  4. To reflect God’s love, mercy, and grace.
  5. To have knowledge of the Church teachings.
  6. To help you have a better understanding of your mental health through the lens of faith.

Here is a list of what you should NOT expect from a Catholic Therapist or any therapist. Should you ever experience any of the mentioned, please have a discussion with your therapist to bring clarity to the situation.  

  1. Judgment of any kind: therapy is meant to be a safe space for you. 
  2. To impose their beliefs, values, and morals on you: we have an ethical obligation to respect your beliefs, values, and morals.
  3. To attempt to convert you to Catholicism: deciding to convert you to Catholicism or any other denomination, spirituality, or belief is a personal decision.  
  4. To shame or ridicule you for failing to follow the church teachings: we are not here to judge. We are here to create awareness. People of faith are not exempt from experiencing difficulties. 
  5. To only talk about religion and pray: You will set the direction and pace of your therapy sessions.  

Should you ever find yourself in a crisis, please call or text the national crisis/suicide hotline at 988 or call your local police department at 911. 

Mireya Torres is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker practicing in the state of California. Mireya is the founder of Healing in Faith Therapy. She offers telehealth Catholic based mental health therapy to women who are ready to reclaim their self-worth, discover their purpose and fully realize the amazing gifts they have to offer. If you wish to contact Mireya, please do so at 760 998-9095 or mireyatorreslcsw@gmail.com

mental health through the lens of faith