Friday, September 30, 2011

How to make people feel shame, I mean Change

In class I was required to read, "How to Help People Change," by Dr. Jay Adams, the father of Nouthetic counseling. In his book, Dr. Adams lays down the foundation of what he believes is Biblical counseling. According to Adams, Biblical counseling is built on 4 things, teaching, conviction, correction, and disciplined training in righteousness.

While I deeply value and respect Dr. Adams' opinion I have to respectfully disagree with what he considers to be counseling. His method looks a lot more like discipleship than it does counseling, which is completely fine. When I work with a new believer, I think having read Jay Adams' work will greatly benefit my ability to help him understand what it means to be a Christian, but when it comes to having to deal with issues from before the new believer came to Christ, and other such emotional issues, I believe this method is completely wrong.

Adams' book teaches a counseling method that if ineffective in the life of the client, will most definitely make the client feel shame for not being able to overcome his or her bondage. This is not what a counselor does. A counselor according to the greek word for counselor is Parakletos, which defined means helper, comforter, consoler, exhorter, and encourager. These aspects of counseling are completely absent from Adams' counseling model.

How helpful is it to tell a lonely person that the reason they are feeling lonely is because of an unconfessed sin, or an incorrect view of God in a certain situation? It isn't. When you tell somebody that they need to pray more, and that doesn't work, what then? This method sounds really good, and is worded in such a way that it makes you think about using it, but in all actuality it is so far from helpful that it almost disgusts me. Who am I to add shame on top of somebody's depression or loneliness?

I think Adams' counseling method would be great if sin were non-existant, but seeing as sin is the source of psychological disfunction, it would be useless then. This world is fallen, and while I agree that no change is possible without God's intervention, I believe that he can use whatever methods necessary to facilitate that change, and those methods do not include making a person feel shame when they have worked as hard as they can, and they still struggle with a certain temptation. Thank you, and Good night

1 comment:

  1. Interesting reaction to Adams' work. I also thought that his counseling method resembled more of a discipleship model or model for pastoral counseling. I think within the realm of either discipleship or pastoral counseling, Adams' approach could be quite effective. However, with unbelievers or deeper issues than repeated sin in a person's life, I think that a different approach is needed.

    Although I disagreed with much of what Adams said, I really enjoyed reading his book, and I think it helped me to identify my own beliefs about counseling and approach to counseling.


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