Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Something We Can All Agree On (Hopefully)

The conversations in my head (yes, I talk to myself) since the last time we were together in class discussing the Bible, psychology, and Jay Adams, have not ceased.  I know each of us has our own thoughts and opinions about the Bible’s role in the arena of professional counseling.  Some may share the views of Adams.  Others can’t wait until Thursday’s exam is over so they can destroy this particular piece of literature.  When it comes to this subject, I believe it is important for each counselor-in-training to know what they believe and why they believe it.  I think all of us understand that this debate / argument will continue long after our own personal practice ceases to exist.  No matter what side of the fence we fall on in the debate, however, one thing we all can and should agree on is the importance of the spiritual well-being of the counselor.

All of us have multiple identities (no, I don’t mean split personalities).  You may be a son or a daughter, a brother or a sister, a husband or a wife, a friend, a promising counselor or a practicing counselor. Whichever applies to you, your biggest and most important identity is as a child of God.  Your personal relationship with Jesus Christ is the stone in the water causing a rippling affect to all the other relationships and identities in your life.  All of us know how vital our training is when it comes to the counseling profession.  We know that people with serious problems, issues, and hurts will be coming to us for help and expecting us to fix them over a limited period of time.  I don’t know about you, but that scares and intimidates me (and people from West Virginia don’t scare easily).  We, as future counselors, have a tremendous responsibility to the counselee – and to ourselves, and to our families, and to God - to be spiritually healthy.  What might that look like?  God paints a perfect picture for us in Ephesians 6:10-18 – the Armor of God. Call me dramatic, but I fully believe that each session we have with a client serves as a unique battle.  As we prepare for each session / battle, we need to understand that being prepared is not limited to simply reviewing notes from the last session or doing research on the particular issue with which your client is dealing, although these are important, necessary, and responsible things to do. 

As I think about each counselee, I know my strength to help them is in the Lord and in His mighty power.  I am aware of how insufficient I am on my own, so I plan to put on the full armor of God, so that I can take my stand against Satan’s schemes – for my sake and for the sake of my counselee.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.   I will, as a responsible counselor therefore, put on the full armor of God so that when the day of evil comes - when I feel discouraged, stressed, or ineffective, when I lose sight of why I felt called to counseling - I may be able to stand my ground, and after I have done everything - after I have studied, prayed, and used every resource I have to offer healing - to stand.  This is the biblical ground where we stand together as counselors - no matter which side of the fence we fall on.  


  1. Scott -
    Besides the fact that West Virginians are a bit off (I’m kidding, Scott; just you are.), I was one of those students who thought Adams’ book ("How to Help People Change", 1986) would make better kindling than literature, but upon completion of the exam Thursday, but I decided to restrain. Not because I want to act like a Christian, but because Adams actually has some valid points. Although his tone was one of arrogance and pompous ignorance, scripture does actually provide more instruction than I think most Christians realize. In my humble ignorance (I’m kidding about the humble part) I didn’t realize that there were counselors who really practice nouthetic counseling and nothing else. However, I, as a learned future psychologist, do not believe that biblical counseling is absent of psychology. I think people who think that there is no *ah hem* necessary relationship between counseling and psychology are mistaken and they miss the point of psychology. In fact, if Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14: 6), and that where two or more believers are gathered the Lord is among them (Matthew 18: 20), imagine what we as well-trained, caring counselors can accomplish with a believing counselee if both enter a session prayerfully.
    I also think that we as counselors, whether Christians who happen to be counseling, or Christian-specific counselors, need to conceptualize the impact they can have on lives and train for that. After all, a wise and amicable professor once said that, “It’s not just you and me that we’re interacting with. We’re interacting with our eternal selves too.” Imagine that; our stones skipping across the pond creating a wake through eternity. That’s a big deal.

  2. Scott,
    I appreciate how you integrated the Biblical references into your stance and how you defended it as being your personal foundation both now and in the future. I found it interesting how adamant you were against Adams, and yet, to me I did not hear you defend your opinions against him. Your main focus in this post is how important and vital it is to place God at the forefront of counseling and to arm yourself with His strength, His protection, and His discernment when dealing with a patient. From a cursory review of Adams ("How to Help People Change," 1986), He agreed with what your arguing. I do not see the connection between you first putting him down and then second explaining your viewpoint that is inline with Adams' arguments. I understand your frustration and since I have also read Adams, I can guess at the areas in which you are not in agreement with. I just did not see you highlight those specific areas in your post.
    Personally, I agree with you when it comes to viewing each counseling session as its own spiritual battle within itself. There is a spiritual warfare happening constantly in this fallen world. We are to arm ourselves with Christ each and every day. In my viewpoint, Jesus Christ is the only true hope and lasting answer to any of my problems. As a result, I do not know how one would be acting as a good servant of the King if he or she entered into a perfect opportunity, in a counseling session, and did not offer this solution, the only true solution. I think that anything that was established in this world, although may be true and have positive effects, is not an everlasting solution. It is instead a temporary bandage if not paired with the hope of Christ. In class we were discussing how some of the answers from psychologists in this world are good and will result in positive change. However, because they have a narrow scope of time, not including eternity, they may in fact end in more damage than help. Francis Chan, a pastor and Christian author, described "time" with the illustration of a rope. He had each person imagine that there was a rope that wrapped all around the room several times and at the very tip was a little bit of red tape that barely covered an inch. This red tape represented life here on earth. When put into perspective, it sounds silly to focus so much time and attention on that little bit of red tape and completely ignore the rest of the rope, eternity after death. Therefore, I believe that psychological instruments and methods for change can be incredibly beneficial and true for the long-run, but they are only if the hope of Christ is presented as the true lasting solution to whatever problem the patient may be facing.

    1. Thank you Brittany for taking the time comment on my blog. After looking over my blog (once again), I never once offered my own personal opinion regarding Adams or as you stated, "how adamant" I was against Adams. If you went back and read the blog, you would see that I simply stated two possible opinions that our classmates may have regarding Adams. Not once time did I state my personal opinion. My blog focused on how we as Christians must be personally prepared each and every day in our personal walk with Christ and how that carries over into our professional practice as counselors in making sure that we have the proper armor on each day.
      I apologize for the misunderstanding and for any possible offense my blog may have been to you or to any other readers.

  3. Scott,
    I really appreciate your post. I think it serves as an important reminder that during our education (and the rest of our lives), we are going to be bombarded with multiple opinions, worldviews, and theories about what it means to be an effective counselor. We will constantly hear voices, and at times will have to decide which we are going to listen to. In the midst of all that noise, it is critical to remember we aren't in this alone... we have the Holy Spirit to guide us through it. As you stated in your post, we are essentially going to battle each time we sit down with a client, and we will get slaughtered by what lurks in the darkness if we aren't careful to put on the necessary armor. When I look at it that way, I am less concerned about being "right," and more concerned about being "ready" for whatever God has for me.
    Thanks for the reminder!

  4. Scott, I really enjoyed your outlook and reminder on the armour of Christ. In our counseling sessions we need to be aware that there is also a spiritual realm that is right there among us with our clients. If we are going to help Gods people we have to make sure we are doing what God has called us to do and that we are prayed up because the field we are going into does put a target on our backs. You are right as Christians we can all agree on the importance of the armor of God. Our spiritual well being is truly vital in the healing process of the clients. We can only lead them wherever we are and if we aren't truly healed or walking with Christ how we can truly expect to help our clients? Great blog! Thanks!

  5. Scott, thank you for your post! I too believe that the importance of the spiritual well-being of the counselor is something we can all agree on! I loved how you explained one's relationship with Christ as a stone in the water which causes a rippling effect and impacts all other relationships. What a perfect analogy. Not only is this a great analogy, but it truly emphasizes the impact that one's spiritual health may have on others (especially in the area of counseling). I pray that God would continue to draw me to Himself, change my heart, and mold my into the women that He would have me to be. I agree that it is intimidating to help others and seek to lead them to healing, but my the God of healing be our guide and help us point potential clients to truth!
    Additionally, I love the mentioning of Ephesians 6 and the full Armor of God. I believe that Anderson would agree with the importance of this Scripture in relation to counseling as well. I too believe that it is important to go into each session with a heart tuned into God and a mind that is ready for war. Thanks again for your post!

  6. Scott,
    I could not agree with you more! I definitely believe that above all we, as Christians, are to be fully equipped with the Armor of God. I am sure that I was one of the few that really appreciated Adams’ stance on the use of scripture in the counseling environment because I believe that he intended for the counselor to be the one fully equipped with the Armor of God not so much of only using the scripture to address the issues of the counselee. As you mentioned, I also know that I, alone, cannot help each counselee without the help of the Lord. Great blog, I felt that you addressed one of the main issues that we as future Christian counselors should agree on….our own spiritual well-being.


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