How to Help a Friend Who’s In Need of Counseling

Two weeks ago, I left a conversation with a friend feeling unsettled. I revisited our words, our sentences shuffled back forth, trying to find the hole or place where that poking and prodding in the pit of my stomach may be stemming from. It felt like I was doing figure-eight’s in my head as I looped around the different topics we covered: Kids, parents, friendships, and faith. I started to realize there was an unresolved item, but it was nothing that I could place my finger on. I just started covering her in prayer, and I felt the Lord telling me that my friend was working through some deep issues and hadn’t fully realized the tension herself. This person is tough to confront about relationships, so I knew I couldn’t tell her anything about it because she may become defensive and then fight to even revisit the area of her life she needs to process. Whenever I had suggested counseling, she is very quick to excuse it or feel unnecessary for her life. I just felt the pressing from the Holy Spirit to keep praying for her and ask questions to help slowly upturn the rocks that we would run into whenever we had a conversation.

Just today, my friend called me. She wanted to tell me about a major spiritual experience she had this week. she started to tell me about an older couple, wise in the faith, whom she had known for several years asked to pray over her and speak truth into her life. She went to their house and they asked her questions, through this conversation and prayerful time together God helped unraveled all those feelings and issues she had been struggling to encounter for years. She had never had such a radical experience, and she said, “I’ve never had an experience with the Lord like that before.” I am so grateful to God I continued to pray for her and not pressure her.

When a friend or loved one is obviously dealing with some past issues or relational issues that are unclear or a little too much for one to help guide them towards healing, the best thing to do is:

  1. Pray for them. Intercession is key when this person is fighting and or trudging through their emotions and they are unsure how to process life’s hurts. There’s definitely major spiritual battles fought if we press along with our loved ones and encourage them to run to the lord when in the midst of times of confusion.
  2. Encourage counseling or mentor if they don’t already have one. Professional counseling would be best if you know there’s a deep underlying issue. If that person is resistant to professional counseling, or isn’t open to discuss what’s really going on, a mentor is the best way to go. Having someone older and/or wiser, who’s been through their current life-stage, loves God and it is evident in their lifestyle, those are the best people for mentoring. Ask your local church or church family for someone who they could recommend.
  3. Just listen. The last thing this person needs is to hear your opinion. Unless they’re asking, just listen and help them even walk through thoughts or feelings of hurt or rejection, or just revisiting the past to figure out what is bothering them. For someone to verbalize thoughts out loud, that can be healing in itself. Especially if you have no idea how to help them, listening and empathizing with them is the best way to go.

Hearing about my friend’s experience brought me great joy, knowing God cares about each one of us at the path we are all walking along. He will provide healing and hope when we face life’s trials even though it feels like forever. We all know we need friends who will encourage us, listen, and pray over us if we’re struggling. Let’s provide that solid support to others and  point them to a path toward’s emotional and spiritual wellness.

Do you have a close friend or family member in need of counseling? How did you talk to them about it?


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