Christian Counseling: Techniques or Attitude (Part 1)
When many people think of Christian counseling their image is of a counselor who is using the Bible, prayer, or other spiritual resources to persuade, convince, or support a person to do what they believe God wants them to do. The emphasis is often on either the specific spiritual techniques or making someone do what they believe God wants them to do. I've had clients ask me to "make" someone to do what they feel God commands them to do. Often the request is indirect; a comment that implies a request. A husband tells me that "if only my wife would submit like Scripture says, then everything would be fine." Or, a parent looks at me with angry and pleading eyes, "he's got to learn to obey us!"
Is Christian counseling the use of spiritual techniques to move someone to do what God wants them to do? Or, is Christian counseling more about who the counselor is and his or her foundational beliefs, attitudes, and even character? At the College of Counseling we strongly believe that Christian resources appropriately applied can be very helpful for individuals, couples, and families. We also believe a more fundamental understanding of Christian counseling is the attitude and beliefs of the counselor.
The first attitude or belief is that every person, regardless of why he or she is coming into counseling, social economic status, family of origin, ethnicity, gender, beliefs or anything else, should be treated with equal respect, acceptance, and dignity. We base this belief on the triune God’s character and actions. Every person is created in the image of God. We all bear the mark of God’s creative act. Jesus, the son of God, became man, lived, taught, died, rose from the grave, and is coming again because of God’s great love for the world. The Holy Spirit is either working in and through each person or is pursuing him or her in love. How can a Christian counselor treat others in any other way? Everyone walking into a Christian counselor’s office should experience this distinct quality of how a Christian counselor views each person.
Written by Harvey I. Payne, Psy.D. Dean of the College of Counseling