Thursday, March 14, 2013

What is our Conscience?

The word Conscience is a noun meaning "sense of the quality of one's character and conduct," "adherence to moral principles," and "consideration of fairness and justice.  Commonly used metaphors for conscience include the "voice within" and the "inner light."  Attached is an article on the subject of the conscience
  Religious views of conscience usually see it as linked to a morality inherent in all humans, to a beneficent universe and/or to divinity.   The diverse ritualistic, mythical, doctrinal, legal, institutional and material features of religion may not necessarily cohere with experiential,emotive, spiritual or contemplative considerations about the origin and operation of conscience.
In Dr. Corsini's class he spoke on the conscience.   He said that the conscience does not teach us right from wrong, instead it prods people to do what that person has already been taught is right.
One can do what is wrong in good conscience because he has been misinformed as to what is right or wrong.  The word conscience is in the Bible but it only appears in the New Testament and the Old Testament translations of conscience are from the term for heart.
In 1 Samuel 24:5; " Now it happened afterward that David's heart troubled him because he had cut Saul's robe.  The New Testament speaks on the unbeliever's conscience in Romans 2:14-15.  It says; verse 14" for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, verse 15 " who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them."
The Bible also speaks on how the conscience may be corrupted.  In 1 Timothy 4:2; Speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron and in Titus 1:15; "To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure, but even their mind and conscience are defiled."
How can this subject apply in a counseling session?
Although conscience takes a central role in helping people to live better lives through counseling and to reconnect with godliness in their hearts counselors rarely address this word in the session.  Most counselees that come into a counseling session have significant depression, suicidal thoughts, and a self-degrading attitude.  Some counselors are afraid that bringing up the matters of conscience will escalate the counselees feelings of guilt.
Besides a feeling of guilt, another emotion which is often associated with the conscience is shame.  A counselor can help the counselee that because of the new creator they became in Christ, the shame that once was there is removed. These implications on the conscience in counseling sessions can be challenging.  Starting at the ground level, as Christian soul care providers, counselors help people keep their natural conscience responsive so that they are keenly aware of wrong thoughts, emotions, and behaviors in their daily lives.
Counselors need to ask counselees frequently about their moral conflicts and explore the function of individual conscience.  However, at the higher-level, counselors need to bring a more complex view of conscience to their counselees.  Counselees should be informed that simply having a good conscience will not accomplish wholeness.
Personal view on this subject

After writing this blog and doing the research on the conscience, I have learned material I never knew about this subject.  In Coun 507 class, Dr. Corsini says that the conscience does not teach a person right from wrong, it prods the person to do what they already know what is right.  I never heard it in that way, i always thought that the concept of the conscience was how it is shown in the picture above.  On television shows they would show the character who has to make a decision in their life having an angel on the right or left shoulder and a devil doing the same.  Each one has their opinion on what the person should do and the person just gets more confused on making the right or wrong decision. Now I have a clearer understanding on the job of the conscience.  


  1. Erin, I appreciate the way you related the conscience to feelings of guilt and shame, and how faulty thinking and teaching might contribute to these feelings. I also appreciated you highlighting the importance of explaining the concept and process of the conscience to the client in order to help them gain self-awareness. I think that often people can gain a great sense of confidence (and even validation), when their psychological and emotional processes can explained.

  2. Hey Erin,
    Thanks for taking the time to shed some more light on the role that conscience plays in the world of counseling. I'm guilty far to often of veiwing my "cosncience" as the picture that you posted and I know many people who have grown-up in church have that same view. Isn't learning and acquiring knowledge fun? The reason why I say that is because it sounds like both of us are learning to see things in through a different lense in 507.
    I really appreciated what you had to say here: "counselors help people keep their natural conscience responsive so that they are keenly aware of wrong thoughts, emotions, and behaviors in their daily lives." Thanks for helping me learn Erin!!!


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