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.