Principles Of Effective Christian Counseling

Christian Counseling
Christian Counseling

1.0 Introduction

1.1 What is Considered Christian Counseling? 

Does the number of emotionally hurting persons in the world keep on increasing daily? Different people including churches are having difficulty adapting to the fact that people need counseling to the point that some churches are not seeing the need to conduct counseling within the church. Christian counseling is different from secular counseling, in the sense that most Christian counselors use the biblical perspective to guide people since the Bible is viewed as the basis of truth[1].  Christian or biblical counselors usually seek to know the areas that an individual has been disobedient to Christian principles and scripture to try to assist the person to get back to submit to God. The counselors can direct back the people by using their standards to measure their goals and the lifestyles of those being advised. Research shows that Christian counselors understand the Bible concepts especially practical wisdom on marriage, human suffering and marriage hence use them to guide people on what they should do and to make the accountable[2].

2.0 Origins of Christian Counseling

Christian Counseling began slightly in 1968 although the counseling had not been officially documented since it existed from the 1st century and in the New Testament.  In the early years of 1900’s Christians believed and agreed that the Bible was the cornerstone to restore human lives. Jay E. Adams is believed to be the founder of biblical counseling movement. Psychologist O. Hobart Mowrer (1907-1982) is however considered as the founding father of counseling movement. This is however confusing since most of Mowrer contributions was towards the field of modern psychology[3]. Mowrer had expertise in learning theory and became the first discoverer of anxiety and fear. Mowrer believed that illness related to the mind was based on genetic or biological aspects of individuals. He further believed that mental illness was a result of confessed sins that haunted an own guilt.

According to him, there was no satisfaction in the manner in which Christians or churches addressed sins in practice and theology especially through the justification of doctrine[4]. He founded therapy groups that he structured around concepts of confession, integrity, and confrontation and started teaching theories of mental health and sin to other people including seminary students. Jay E. Adams is one of the students agreed with the modern psychiatry in the sense that churches were overlooking the fact that sin could be a possible aspect in causing emotional distress. Mowrer psychiatry gave the church the authority and right to counsel those hurting, however, it was viewed by Adam as a fight against the church since it was replacing Christian faith with humanistic views and self-centered thinking[5].

David Powlison, who was Adams student, further pursued the previous ideas in his dissertation book. According to him, Adams dispute with the understanding of individual problems was outlined around knowledge system framed in explicitly theological terms. His view is that medical model defined women and men as not being responsible to God and themselves contrary to earlier set views. David also argues that Adam did not see the cure of souls being possible by using peace of mind or behaviors that are socially accepted that was stated as being enough[6].

3.0 Christian Counseling

The Christian counseling community has been engaging in discussions on what Christian counseling should be and the extent to which the Bible should be based on. Christian counseling has few basic approaches that are limited hence making it ineffective when applied to some situations. Christian counseling has brought some confusions if indeed it’s true to its objective keeping in mind that Christians may call themselves counselors or some counselors may just call themselves Christians for the sake of attracting clients. Few concepts have been used to shade some light to customers who are seeking the services of Christian counselors. This is because some individuals may require spiritual knowledge to handle their dilemmas rather than using secular perspective to advise them. Different Christians especially those who hold strong denominational, evangelical or fundamentalist beliefs would prefer counseling services from a Christian counselor[7].

This, therefore, has become a challenge because some become frustrated due to the disparity that exists today in Christian counseling. The disparities have resulted due to the existence of different types of Christian counselors including. Examples include but are not limited to: Pastors that give their advice due to their seminary education or experience; Christians with deliverance ministries; Christians therapists with family and marriage experience; Christians applying scripture concepts but do not have counseling training or skills; Christian professional counselors, social workers; Clinical Psychologists who combine secular counseling knowledge with Christian principles and secular counselors posing as Christians[8]. The different types of counselors end up frustrating those seeking to be advised by right or believing counselors. It is also difficult to monitor if those claiming to be Christian counselors are using Bible concepts when advising their clients.

Individuals seeking professional services of a counselor are usually referred by their pastors to individuals known to the pastor or have a counseling center that has the same doctrine with the pastor. Despite the try to only refer church members to Christian counselor’s challenges do occur since some counselors are already introduced to secular training or education world especially those working outside the church stings. Churches also recruit counselors due to their secular association making them continue using secular techniques instead of shifting to Christian techniques while advising their Christian clients. The approach is therefore deemed to backfire in the end because failure to use biblical perspectives will make some clients to be frustrated especially when they realize that their Christian counselors do not seem to bother holding them responsible for going against their Christian values. Most Christians seeking professional counseling would love to be corrected by being given practical examples from the Bible, failure to which they will start doubting the whole process.

4.0 The Need to Rely Solely On Scripture for Answers

Despite the discussions, if there is need to combine research and practical experience, Spiritual Revelation and Biblical knowledge when counseling questions still arise as to what extent or portion should Christian counseling depend on the different kind of knowledge. As much as Christian counseling should solely rely on Biblical perspectives, it also becomes necessary to incorporate other types of counseling to get the desired results. The counseling process should rely first on the Bible followed by spiritual revelation, secular research, and theories since each perspective are important in bringing psychological healing to the customer[9].

Counseling based on the biblical process of Salvation by Faith is the most complete and reliable and should be used fundamentally in everything done in the church. It is prudent to argue that if the process of salvation by faith is Gods way of making people whole again, then it should be used primarily in the counseling process. This, therefore, means that if biblical perspective can be used to solve psychological problems in the church, it needs to be strengthening to make it effective when used. It is also worth noting that if the Christian counseling process were based solely on biblical answers it would be readily accepted in churches and many who are not subscribed to the counseling process will be willing to incorporate the Christian counseling in most programs in the church.


5.0 Principles of Effective Biblical Counseling

The active principle of biblical counseling is developed to guide counselors on how to conduct themselves during counseling process and to handle their clients well. Different principles have been outlined:

5.1 People Need Help

The first principle is to understand that people need help. Various reasons have been described as the causes making people seek help including anxiety, stress, bitterness, and resentments, especially in marriage, churches, and families. Lack of people being taught character values and how to manage life challenges to be able to conveniently confront them also contribute the number of those seeking help. The difficulties of people’s lives have made the number of those seeking Christian counseling to increase. Understanding that people need help will help the counselor focus on the problem rather than judging the individual for seeking help[10].

5.2 Counselors Should Be Competent

The next effective principle is that counselors should be competent since the process of helping people is urgent but not a natural process. This, therefore, calls for competency on the counselor side for them to be careful so as to identify the best counseling approach to apply to their different clients. It is also important to understand that Christian counseling is not for every person especially to those who are resisting change or growth in their lives. It also certainly not applies to counselors whose motive of helping others are not genuine and are not concerned with the welfare of those being counseled. Christian counseling, therefore, is for those who have the potential of becoming skillful sensitive and knowledgeable and motivated to handle clients[11].

5.3 Counselors Need To Have a Strong Value System

The next principle is that counselors need to have a strong value system since the process of helping people can be a damaging process at times if the counselor has flaws. If the client comes to realize that the counselor is not perfect or doesn’t have a moral value it makes them frustrated and to begin doubting the process. This, therefore, calls for identification of values that are used to measure parameters of being right or wrong or to measure mediocrity and excellence. Therefore the counselor’s values can be used to measure the number of individuals who are likely to cope in future based on the help received. Having a counselor with high values plays a role in determining if the clients will be able to handle difficulties in future or will still be broken by them[12].

5.4 Counselors Not To Be Too Attached To the Clients

Christian counseling principle also calls for counselors not to be too attached to the clients or to make them dependent on the counseling process. Counselors should, therefore, maximize on making the individual use their human potential to effectively provide a lasting change to the individual. The clients should also be willing to receive help since it’s the fundamental aspect required to make the counseling process a success. Those who are defensive or resistant and not willing to receive help will make less commitment to change their ways to improve the way they live. An individual who has been manipulated, or threatened may view the counselor as being part of the plan hence may fail to open up. The counselor can only patiently wait for the person to realize despite being adamant seeking and wanting help will do a greater good in their lives[13].

5.5 Counseling Process Should Be Handled By Professionals

The counseling process should be handled by professionals who trained on how to handle their clients. This because those seeking help would love to be talking to experts who can easily identify their problems and advise them accordingly. Both the counselor and the client should trust in God keeping in minds that despite the counseling God should be left in control to guide the client further. Trusting in God form the basis of Christian counseling since clients would love to be advised based on Bible or Scripture perspective. It is also important that offering help without trusting in God equalize to secular counseling, which the client may be avoided since they directly sought Christian counseling[14].

5.6 Counselors Should Be Effective Communicators

Effective counselors should be good communicators since most counseling sessions require the counselor to carefully choose their words to avoid communicating in a manner that further hurts the client. The chosen words should inspire the client and not condemn them. The counseling duration should be limited since the counselor should watch the calendar to make the client grow and become self- reliant. The counseling process should be limited to only responding to the need of the client to prevent developing the unhealthy relationship where the client becomes dependent on the counselor regarding advice[15].

5.7 Christian Counselors Should Maintain Confidentiality

Christian counselors should maintain confidentiality by not sharing with a third party problem faced by their clients. This helps in maintaining the trust since the person shared in confidence and to avoid making them vulnerable. The counselor should also be able to exhibit the character that is being sold to the client. That is the counselor should be convincing and inspiring to the client to make them want to adopt the changes being said to them since it works to bring positive change.

5.8 Counselors Should Also Remember To Take Care of Themselves

Despite helping other people counselors should also remember to take care of themselves. This because one can be overwhelmed with their jobs to the extent that they forget their needs and start looking that they need help themselves. The counselor also need be a good listener since helping people requires one to a good listener to be in a position to evaluate and digest what is being communicated to give adequate counsel. This is because the person receiving help find it comforting when they are understood correctly and given important advice to help them confront their situation[16].

6.0 Conclusion

The number of people who are hurting emotionally keeps on increasing by the day. What is considered to be Christian counseling? Christian counseling uses biblical perspective when counseling believers. Christian counseling, therefore, is becoming necessary in churches to help Christians having difficulties in their lives. According to research Christian counseling is the best since most advice being given to clients has biblical perspectives that clients are seeking to get given the fact that they help comfort disturbed souls. Christian counselors should follow guiding principles to offer the best services to their clients. Being good communicators and listeners are paramount to make the counseling process a success.

7.1 Bibliography

David, G. Benner. Strategic pastoral counseling. A short-term structured model. Second edition. 2012. pg. 1-41.

Everett, L. Worthington Jr., Eric, L. Johnson, Joshua, N. Hook and Jamie, D. Aten. Evidence-based practices for Christian counseling and psychotherapy.2017. 1-141.

Randolph K. Sanders (ed). Christian Counseling Ethics A Handbook for Psychologists Therapists and Pastors. Second Edition. 2017. 7-120.

Richard E. Butman. Qualifications of the Christian Mental Health Professional. 2012. Pg. 1-28.

Sanders, Randolph K., ed. Embracing our Ethical Mandate. Christian Counseling Ethics. Westmont: InterVarsity Press. Accessed June 11, 2017. ProQuest Ebook Central 2012. pg. 8-26.

Siang-Yang Tan. Counseling and Psychotherapy. A Christian perspective. 2017. pg. 1-178.

Tim, Clinton and Gary, Sibcy. Christian Counseling, Interpersonal Neurobiology, and the Future. Journal of Psychology & Theology. 2012. Vol.40. No. 2, 141-145.

[1] Tim, Clinton, and Gary, Sibcy, Christian Counseling, Interpersonal Neurobiology, and the Future, Journal of Psychology &Theology. 2012, Vol.40, No. 2, 141-143.

[2] Ibid, pg, 143-145.

[3] Siang-Yang Tan, Counseling and Psychotherapy, A Christian Perspective, 2017, pg. 21-37.

[4] Siang-Yang Tan, Counseling, and Psychotherapy, A Christian perspective. 2017, pg, 51-68.

[5] Ibid, pg. 80-95.

[6] David, G. Benner, Strategic pastoral counseling. A short-term structured model. Second edition, 2012, pg. 1-41.

[7] Sanders, Randolph K., ed, Embracing our Ethical Mandate. Christian Counseling Ethics. Westmont, InterVarsity Press. Accessed June 11, 2017. ProQuest EBook Central. 2012, pg. 8-16.

[8] Ibid, 16-24.

[9] Sanders, Randolph K., ed, Embracing our Ethical Mandate. Christian Counseling Ethics. Westmont, InterVarsity Press. Accessed June 11, 2017. ProQuest Ebook Central. 2012, Pg, 20-26.

[10] Siang-Yang Tan, Counseling and Psychotherapy. A Christian perspective. 2017, pg, 158-178.

[11] Richard E, Butman, Qualifications of the Christian Mental Health Professional. 2012, Pg. 1-28.

[12] Randolph K. Sanders (ed), Christian Counseling Ethics A Handbook for Psychologists, Therapists, and Pastors. Second Edition. 2017, 7-120.

[13] Everett, L, Worthington Jr, Eric, L. Johnson, Joshua, N. Hook and Jamie, D. Aten, Evidence-based practices for christian counseling and psychotherapy, 2017, 21-41.

[14] Ibid, Pg, 120-141.

[15] David, G, Benner, Strategic pastoral counseling, A short-term structured model, Second Edition, 2012, pg, 1-41.

[16] David, G, Benner, Strategic pastoral counseling, A short-term structured model. Second edition, 2012, pg. 1-41.

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