Christian Counselors?

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by I Am Blessed 24, May 30, 2007.

  1. I Am Blessed 24

    I Am Blessed 24
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    Do you consider Christian counseling to be from pastors only, or counselors who are Christians and have a degree in psychology?

    Do they both have a place in a Christian's life?
     
  2. His Blood Spoke My Name

    His Blood Spoke My Name
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    Counselling can be done by any saint who walks with and is is strong in the Lord.

    Galatians 6:1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.

    Paul wrote this epistle to the churches of Galatia... not to pastors only. A degree in psychology is not a requirement.
     
  3. TBLADY

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    I have found that some of the BEST counselors are those who are not in the profession, but like the above poster said were spiritual, walking with God...knew their bible inside and out and who had EMPATHY, understanding and listened more than they spoke, being sensitive to the individual and not trying to cram bible verses down their throat....expecting immediate changes.
     
  4. Bible-boy

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    I would agree. However, I am sure that there are some very good professional Christian Counselors out there. Particularly those associated with [FONT=verdana,arial][FONT=georgia,palatino]Nouthetic Counseling and this organization: http://www.nouthetic.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=16&Itemid=80[/FONT][/FONT]

    [FONT=verdana,arial][FONT=georgia,palatino]One thing that I have noticed while at seminary (and because I have a family member who majored in Christian Counseling) is that many students that go into that type of program have experienced some sort of psychological trauma prior to entering the field of study. Those that I personally know sometimes seem to allow their personal experiences to act as the source of authority for their Theology rather than the Bible. I mean sometimes they appear to pass the Word of God through the sieve of their personal experience rather than allowing the Word of God to be the sieve through which they pass their personal experiences (to gain God's prospective rather than their own). Thus, their personal experience often acts as the source of authority driving their Theology. This is never good for anyone to do in relation to any subject.
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    #4 Bible-boy, May 30, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: May 30, 2007
  5. annsni

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    I think that most any mature believer is equipped to do general counseling but I think that at times, it's good to involve someone who has a bit more training in certain things. A friend of mine is dealing with the aftermath of a break-in WHILE they were home - their 6 year old son found a strange man in the house and started yelling which got the dogs going - and I really think that they both need some counseling from someone who's familiar with PTSD. I've done counseling before - with some training (both secular and Christian) but I do not feel comfortable doing some counseling - I know when I'm in above my head.

    So, I think that pastors can counsel, trained counselors can counsel, trained psychiatrists can counsel and the regular old believer can counsel. It just depends on what it's for and the person needing the help.
     
  6. Lagardo

    Lagardo
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    I'm a pastor with a degree in Psychology.

    I got my BA in Psychology because I wanted to go into Clinical, Counseling, or Developmental psychology. During my senior year, I felt God was calling me to ministry. Partly afraid of this call, partly still stuck on being a counselor of some kind, I came up with a fine compromise. I'd go to a seminary and study counseling. That way, I could be an licensed professional counseling but do it in a Christian context. (Note: I don't advise compromises with God. Do not take my mistakes as an endorsment of my behavior).

    God really convicted me in those counseling classes. A few things began to get my attention: First was the success rate of professional counseling (christian or secular). Its only about 33%. Worse yet, its pretty much equally divided between those who say they were helped, those who feel no change, and those who feel worse off. Putting this with another study that found that 80% of counseling clients feel much better after making the first appointment (the idea that I'm getting help seems to help in and of itself), I began to question whether the counseling techniques were working at all.

    And that brought me to the counseling techniques themselves. Most are based in rogerian counseling (from Carl Rogers.) Rogers was a humanist and counseling is largely based on humanist philosophy. This really bothered me, especially since I'd be taking all kinds of classes on theology, pastoral work, etc and then humanism. It wasn't sitting right. I began to see that counseling required faith, so why then was the faith in the humanism?

    Now you might be thinking, wait, is this philosophy or science? I have a BA is psych from a top psychology research school. I understand well the science of psychology, and counseling is pretty far from it. I found that counselors would love for you tho think of them as similar to medical doctors, but its just not there. The education, the training, the rigor, the liscensure procedures, the success ratings are just not measuring up to your doctor. I once had a christian counselor defensively tell me, "If you have a toothache, you might pray, but you'll pray on the way to the dentist." I just thought, "yeah, the dentist has a little better than 1/3 of his patients feeling better too."

    This all had me questioning quite a few things, bringing me right into opposition with most Christian counselors. I find that most of them reject such disciplship aspects like church discipline. I began to wonder, what's a Christian counselor to do with sin? I also noticed that most Christian counselors reject counseling by anyone other than themselves. Refer, refer, refer, is all they seem to be telling pastors. To me, counseling seemed to be a biblical role of a pastor (and other mature Christians).

    So there I was, studying something that is based more in philosophy than science, and standing opposed to the Bible. I changed my studies and was much happier.

    I have done extensive reading on Nouthetic counseling and find it to be very helpful for the pastor. I strongly encourage all pastors and church leaders to take back counseling. Yes, if a medical (just because a counselor has a fancy name for it doesn't mean its as real as cancer...pick up a DSMIV and learn what makes a "mental illness") condition is possible, send them to a medical doctor. Otherwise, you, the person needing help, and the Holy Spirit can do more with scripture than a lot of Christian counselors want you to know.
     
  7. annsni

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    Our church also tends towards Nouthetic counseling. I think it's a valid way to counsel. But then again, I tend to be a facts-based kind of person - sometimes to my detrement. LOL!
     
  8. AresMan

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    Wow, I actually agree with an entire post by HBSMN! Kudos. :D
     
  9. Lagardo

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    It scared me too :laugh: I thought it was a great post!
     
  10. preachinjesus

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    As a pastor, I often send people to certified Christian counselors that I know of when their problems and struggles get too much for me to handle.

    I am equipped for some counseling, but once things reach a certain point I automatically set them up with someone in the Christian counseling field I know and trust.

    Not all psychological problems are sin problems or spiritual problems. There are legitimate grounds for some to get serious counsleing help including some (on rare occassions) medical help to correct some issues going on in their person. Once I refer someone to a certified Christian counselor I follow up and try to keep in touch with where they are, particularly if they are in my ministry area.
     
  11. Lagardo

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    Barring rare medical occassions, what is it about the training of a Christian counselor that makes you feel they are better equipped? If the problems are not sin or spiritual in nature, what do you think they are?
     
  12. annsni

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    Well, let's put it this way - does everyone have the right way to communicate? Does everyone deal with things the same way? I grew up in an Irish Catholic home - you had issues? Fine - deal. End of story. I'm not a good one to analyze a situation that people might be in - and I just might not know how to properly deal with a particular problem. I've dealt in crisis counseling and premarital counseling - as well as a little bit of adolescent counseling. But beyond that, there are things that I KNOW are above me and I would prefer that they see someone who has a bit more training in the issue that they're dealing with.

    Case in point - a friend of mine is going through a divorce. Her husband beat her bad enough for her to have permanent nerve damage in her face and she decided that enough is enough. She has pressed charges and is moving forward with the divorce (this is after 12 years of abuse). I referred her to one of our own counselors at church - someone who has had many years of counseling women (she's one of the pastor's wives) and I feel that she would have a lot more experience and wisdom in a time like this.

    It's absolutely fine to understand our own limits. Not everyone is able to be a counselor - just as everyone is a teacher, a prophet, etc. Some are gifted in areas - others are not.

    Why is that a problem?
     
  13. TBLADY

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    Research on What Makes Counseling Effective

    1. The counselor must establish rapport, trust, and a perception of himself as a "safe" person by the client.

    2. The counselor must approach people differently, according to their personality, expectations, level of confidence, and emotional state. For example, a deeply depressed person must be approached differently than someone who is momentarily discouraged. A confident person who is suffering a temporary crisis is dealt with differently than someone who considers himself a lifelong failure.

    3. The counselor must have a personal impact on the client through their relationship, independent of the content of the counseling. He or she does this through modeling their own approach to life, becoming involved in the client's thoughts and emotions, and providing an alternative perspective to the client's perspective.

    Focus on the client, rather than the counselor.

    An article relevant to effective counseling recently appeared in the American Psychologist. It focuses on the client, rather than the counselor. The article is entitled, "In Search of How People Change". It suggests that people who successfully change behavior, do so in a slow, intermittent, upward spiral, moving through a series of steps. The path of change is not a steady, linear, progression. It is fraught with regression, moving backward to an earlier stage, remaining stagnant for a time, before again moving forward. The person changing will probably achieve a slightly higher level of success, the next time, before regressing again and repeating the cycle. The article suggests that as a counselor approaches a client at different points in this change process, he needs to be aware that the client will be prepared for some activities, but not for others. A person may have a vague sense of discomfort, and be willing to explore its origins, but not be prepared to make a major change in behavior. The counselor cannot independently determine the rate of change. Effectiveness cannot be measured by the same standards at all points in the counseling process.


    Step 1: Identify the problem.

    Step 2: Identify the biblical principle that applies.

    Step 3: Apply the principle to the problem.

    In light of the above information regarding what makes counseling effective, there are some problems with this prescriptive approach.


    Not all people are looking for, or ready to respond to, an authority.
    Some reject such an approach outright, though they may be amenable to a different approach. Others outwardly conform to the counselor's expectations, giving the impression of change and success; but inwardly, perhaps unconsciously, they are not self-motivated. Changes are shallow and short-lived. A prescriptive approach doesn't allow for differences in personalities and mental or emotional states, which affect the client's receptivity to the counselor. Some people respond to explanation and suggestion more readily than inspiration and exhortation.

    The prescriptive approach emphasizes the content of counseling over the experience.

    Much research indicates that the experience is the more powerful factor. Most of us can think of a person who has had a strong impact on our life because of their attitude or approach to life, rather than what they said. Relationships can be powerful in themselves. A prescriptive approach can seem impersonal, like a person attempting to teach river rafting by giving instructions on shore; then sending the student down the rapids alone.


    The prescriptive approach does not consider the spiral process of change, noted above, in which people need different forms of intervention at different times. It is easy for the counselor to move to a plan of action prematurely, to satisfy his own need to be doing something more tangible, when the client has not yet arrived at a conviction to change behavior.

    A non-prescriptive approach to Christian counseling assumes that God's will is primarily qualitative. That is, God desires development of internalized qualities, rather than temporary behavior changes. These qualities might include openness to his Spirit, realistic understanding of self (including the sin nature), and honesty regarding our real motives, desires, and goals. It also assumes that the counselor does not have an all-inclusive understanding of the client, but can only work with that aspect of the person that is available at a particular time. The counselor is one of many influences God will use to reach and effect change in the individual.


    The goal of counseling is to move to one level of change to another.

    It is first necessary to determine where the client is in life, and what personal resources she has. Is she experiencing a nebulous sense of discomfort? Is she focused on a specific source of distress? Is he looking for a way to change? Is he struggling to maintain changes already begun? The goal of counseling is to move from one level of change to another, always bearing in mind the modality most effective with this individual. The method is to listen to the message the client is sending, reflect this to the client in a way that has meaning to them, and present alternative possibilities, decisions, and behaviors when the client is truly ready to consider them. Neither Christ nor Paul appears to have used a formula in their approach to people. Jesus approached Nicodemus differently than the woman at the well. Paul discussed philosophies with the Athenians and confronted the Corinthians. Yet his goal for everyone was the same: that they be imitators of him, in order that they become imitators of Christ.

    For the full article click here http://www.gregswensonphd.com/christian_counseling.htm
     
    #13 TBLADY, May 31, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: May 31, 2007
  14. DQuixote

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    I drove myself to become the world's greatest psychologist. Then Jesus found me. I trashed it all. Much of what Largado says speaks to me. HBSMN strikes similar chords. I believe that Christian Counseling, without any credentials, without any state licensure, is appropriate, as long as one's only textbook is God's Word. A pastor once asked me for my state license. I was appalled that he did so. I replied "I was grandfathered." The grand Father of us all teaches me.
     
  15. WaltRiceJr

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    There is a group in Philadelphia called the Christian Counseling and Education Foundation. They serve both as a "professional" counseling center, and work with Westminster Seminary to train biblical counselors, but they also hold seminars and publish materials designed to get Christians to disciple one another.

    Some of their professionals have both pysch and seminary degrees, one has an MD. I've heard some of them say that the worldy model of counseling is good at finding problems, but has no solutions. And for so long, in America at least, people in the church didn't want to hear about your problems, so those in need went elsewhere. Time to fix that.

    Sin and its effects are very much a big part of CCEF's model, and I think you might find their biblical orthodoxy refreshing. (While they have a Presbyterian bent, nothing here that prevents using solid biblical teaching!)

    http://www.ccef.org
     

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