Friday, February 4, 2011

Secular Counseling: The Unintentional Hospice Mentality

Various times in class the topic of determining what exactly is the goal of Christian counseling has surfaced. Most recently the professor stated that all counselors essentially have the same goal—to help the client move towards health and healing. Now exactly what that entails should vary when asked to both Christian and secular counselors. But the question remains in what ways and to what degree?

Clinton & Ohlschlager in their book entitled Competent Christian Counseling refer to Collins’ Christian Counseling: A Comprehensive Guide when discussing the goals of counseling. Collins states, “Like our secular colleagues, the Christian seeks to help counselees change behavior, attitudes, values, and/or perceptions…But the Christian goes further. He or she seeks to stimulate spiritual growth in counselees; to model Christian standards, attitudes, values, and lifestyles; to present the gospel message, encourage counselees to commit their lives to Jesus Christ; and to stimulate counselees to develop values and live lives that are based upon biblical teaching…”

I could not agree more with this statement. It seems to hit the nail on the head. However, I cannot help but wonder which part of that definition takes precedence: help the counselees change or to get them saved? And if they are not interested in becoming saved, are we to stop there or continue the counseling process?

In class I made the analogy of viewing the goal of the counselor working with saved and unsaved clients similar to the goal of Hospice or the goal of a doctor. The goal of the doctor is to make their patients live as long as possible and preferably give them the best quality of life possible. Hospice on the other hand knows how it is going to end and simply plans on making the best of what time is left.

Secular counselors are limited in that they are unable to function above the level of making the best of what is left—they without knowing it are stuck in the Hospice mentality. As stated above, they change behaviors, attitudes, values, and perceptions. Christian counselors do not face those same limitations. Because we are capable of “treating” (for lack of a better term) for the long term (eternity), we are the doctors. We have the abilities and means do more than help simply change—we can transform.

1 comment:

  1. When you made this point in class I was totally on the same page. I had read in Dr. Crabbs book how we are all are living to fill the need of both significance and security, however this need can only be filled by God. Crabb then says that without God a person can only get as high as power when trying to fill significance and pleasure when trying to fill security. This quest for power and pleasure ultimately slips in to violence and immorality. This is where I think some of the hospice idea comes in. Secular counselors try to help their clients not do things that hurt themselves or others once they have slipped to the violence and immorality, but that’s all they can do. Secular counselors can’t fill the need of significance and security in their clients lives only God can, and they don’t even tell them that. So they never get the need filled they only keep doing things that make them feel a little better till they die. You are right, sounds just like hospice to me.


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