BL - 47 Christian Counselling

A.      Meaning of Counselling
 Biblical Counselling is basically “listening sympathetically to a person’s problem and encouraging him to overcome the problem with the help of God’s word”.
B.      What is not Counselling
                   Counselling is not “giving advice to a person or helping to solve his difficulties or guiding to get rid of problems”.
                   If a counsellor does any of these, he will become commander or adviser instead of being counsellor.
C.      Objectives of Biblical Counselling
                   Christian Biblical Counselling has atleast four objectives as following:
                   First, It encourages him to overcome sin through the Saviour. 
                   Second, It encourages him to grow in maturity.
                   Third, It encourages him to become like Jesus (the image of Jesus Christ – Christ’s character).
                   Fourth, It encourages him to overcome his problems of daily life.
  1. What is the difference between Christian Counselling and Non-Christian Counselling
                   Although Non-Christian Counselling guides a person to come out of his problems successfully,  it looks for short-term results.  Hence it is always temporary in nature.
                   Christian Counselling encourages a person basically to find the Saviour who can help him to overcome his problem all.  It looks for long-term results.  Hence Christian Counselling looks for permanent solutions.  It brings therefore everlasting results.
  1. What are the common factors of Christian and Secular Counselling.
                   “Listening to Person’s Problem” is the first common factor in Christian Counselling as well as in Non-christian Counselling (Secular).
                   “Encouraging the person” to find solution is the second common factor in both counselling.
F.      Need For  Christian Counselling
                   In this so-called advanced scientific world, most of the people are busy with daily schedule to work and to earn.  Due to their job, studies, and business, people move from one place to another.  Often they are away from their families.  The joint families are being parted.  Those who are living together with their families face financial and social pressures.
                   A century ago, family elders and friends listened to the person who had any problem.  Now due to parted and separated families, elders’ role in the family is reduced.  Friends are busy with their own affairs.  So there is none to listen to him sympathetically.
                   Although scientific advancements have brought the life easy, they do not comfort people.  Science has failed to meet the need of soul.  Even the secular counselling often fails to heal the soul permanentally.  In this juncture, Christian Couselling is the only proper solution to human soul and all its problems (Pro. 11 : 14 ; 12 : 15 ; 15 : 22-23, 30-33 ; 19 : 20 ; 24 : 6).
G.      Importance of Christian Counsellors
                   There are many professions, which bring higher income.  Hence many select such occupation. They can not spare time to listen to the problem of others.  In fact, such people themselves have many problems not solved.  Hence Christian Counsellors are very important for the society.  They can serve the society by listening to the problems of people.
H.      Focus of Counselling
                   People live with pressures, stress (tension), due to work, financial pressure, unemployment and sickness.  Many of these problems can be solved by proper counselling.  Some of the problems can not be completely solved immediately.  (Ex. cancer patient).  However good counselling can help people to overcome and cope with their stress.  Hence counselling must help to relieve the stress / tensions from the persons who come for counselling.
I.       Various Types of Counselling
                   Counselling is generally classified into four major types, based on the needs.  They are crisis counselling, Facilitative Counselling, Specialized Counselling, and Preventive Counselling.
J.       Crisis Counselling
                   This type of counselling is usually done at emergency situations.  It is done during natural calamities (Earthquakes, Tsunami), accidents, loss of relatives, financial loss etc.  It can be done for individual and for small groups.  It is usually done right after the incident take places.  It goes on from one week minimum to 6 months, maximum.  In some special cases, it may be longer than 6 months.
K.      Facilitative Counselling
                   This type of counselling is generally done in relaxed situations.  Career guidance, Parental guidance, Improving Family Relationship (Mother-Daughter –in-law) and Improving marriage Relationship (Husband-wife) are under this category.  This counselling is necessary at particular stages of life.
L.      Specialised Counselling
                   This type of counselling is necessary for specific problems.  Drug addiction, Sex matters, Finance, Medical Treatment etc. are known as specialized counselling areas.  This counselling is commonly done for individual-some time for couple / family.
M.     Preventive Counselling
                   This counselling is done for creating awareness on particular area of life.  Ex. Pre-marital counselling, stress management.  This counselling will help the people to be prepared to meet the challenges of life.
N.      The Need of Counselling to Various Stages
                   Special Counselling is needed according to the age level as following:
  • Child Counselling (upto 12 years)
  • Adolescent Counselling (13-19)
  • Youth-Premarital Counselling (19-35)
  • Middle-Age Counselling (36-50)
  • Old Age Counselling (50-60)
  • Geriatrics Counselling (61 – above)
O.      Important / Basic Techniques of Counselling
                   There are two important techniques in counselling.  Either of two can be used as it is suitable.  They are known as Non-Directive Counselling and Directive Counselling.
P.      Non-Directive Counselling
                   In Non-directive Counselling, the counsellor commits himself to active listening, questioning to clarify doubts, and giving moral support to the person who is being counselled.  This is usually done by informal ways through Lay-people and volunteers.  This kind of counselling is often done by friends or relatives in informal situations.
Q.      Directive Counselling
                   In Directive Counselling, some special techniques and methods are used.  Directivie counselling can be practiced only by well trained / qualified counsellors.  In this process, the counsellor listen to the problem of client, analysis the root cause of the problem, and then directs the client to take the right decision which is suitable for him.  The counsellor does not take decision for the client but he wisely direct the client’s thinking in the right path / direction, so that the client may take right decision.
  1. Psychological Theories (Psychology – Secular)
                   Psuke, a Greek term means ‘soul’.  From this Greek word, English word psychology is derived. There are many psychological theories.  (More than 400 theories).  Unfortunately, many of these theories do not believe the existence of soul (soul of man).  In general, psychology is a branch of study in anthropology.
                   Although it is popularized now, Psychology is a new branch of study.  It is still at  developing stage ; new theories and new approaches are emerging.  One can not say that Psychology is completely scientific.
Note :  Although psychology is not scientific, it is not wrong to study about it.
S.      Psychology Vs Bible Psychology
                   As mentioned earlier, many psychological theories and so-called Psychologist do not believe the exitence of soul (Psuke) in man.  But the Bible clearly teaches about soul (of man).  Man has soul (1 Thes. 5 : 23).  Since the Bible teaches about the existence of soul in man, definition of soul, functions of soul, problems of soul, and solutions to the problems of soul, the Bible is the perfect book on Psychology.  So the Bible has better teaching on psychology than the so-called psychological theories and psychology.
T.      The Role of Psychology in Counselling
                   Some secular – counsellors use psychological approaches in counselling.  However counselling can be practiced well without the help of psychology.  Because the basic for every counselling is “Sympathetic listening”.  Many trained counsellors also  practice counselling without the help of Psychology.  They are also often successful in counselling without psychology.  This shows us a truth that counselling can be practiced well without Psychology.
U.      The Role of Psychology in Christian counselling
                   The Bible has clear teaching councerning soul and Psychology.  Hence a Christian Counsellor can use the Bible as his only resource book and manual book for counselling.  However, some Christian Counsellors use Psychological approaches in their counselling practice along with the Bible.
V.      The Biblical Counselling
                   The Biblical counselling is nothing but Christian counselling.  In Biblical counselling, the counsellor firmly uses the Bible as his only resource book / Handbook for counselling.  He never uses any Psychological approaches in his counselling practice.  The Biblical counsellor believes the Bible as the best book for biblical Psychology and as the best manual for counselling.
W.     The Best Psychologist and Counsellor
                   Jesus Christ is the best Psychologist, that the world has ever known.  He could understand man as he was.  Nobody should tell Him about man (Jn. 2 : 23-25).  He knew what was in man’s heart / soul.  As He knew man, He counselled all those who came to him.  He gave perfect solutions and answers to their problems and questions.  People marveled at the gracious words of Jesus (Lk. 4 : 22).  He healed the broken hearted (Lk. 4 : 18).
X.      Basic Qualifications of a Biblical Counsellor
  1. He should believe the Bible as God’s word and it has power to comfort for all human problems ( 2 Tim. 3 : 16-17).
  2. He should believe God who is able to solve all our problems (Heb. 11 : 6).
  3. He should believe that Jesus Christ is the only Saviour for the forgiveness of sin (Act. 4 : 12)
  4. He should have a good understanding of the Bible and should read the Bible regularly and systematically (1 Tim. 4 : 13,15-16).
  5. He must be able to give right answers politely (1 Pet. 3 : 15 ; Pro. 23 : 16).
  6. He should maintain good moral life (1 Jn. 3 : 2-3 ; 1 Pet. 1 : 15-16 ; 1 Tim. 4 : 12).
  7. He must trust God for all his needs (Heb. 13 : 5,6 ; 1 Pet. 5 : 6-7).
  8. He should be hospitable (1 Pet. 4 : 9).
  9. He should love others, irrespective of their caste, race, language, religion etc. (Jam. 2 : 8, 9 ; 1 Jn. 3 : 23).
  10. He should be a good patient listener (Jam. 1 : 19 ; 5 : 8 ; Pro. 17 : 28 ; 21 : 23).
Y.      Spiritual Check-list for Biblical Counsellors
  1. Our Best Teacher = God / Holy Spirit. In. 14 : 26 ; Is. 9 : 6 – Do you learn from Him?
  2. Our best counselling manual = The Bible – 2 Tim. 3 : 16-17 ; 1 Pet. 2 : 1-3 – Do you refer it for your counselling service?
  3. Our Best Insurance = Faith – 2 Tim. 4 : 7-8 ; Heb. 11 : 6 – Have you taken the policy of Faith?
  4. Our best shelter = Truth / Jesus – Jn. 14 : 6 ; Prov. 18 : 10 – Are you in the Shelter of Truth, Jesus Christ?
  5. Our Best Food = God’s words / Good words – Prov. 12 : 25b ; 15 : 30 ; 16 : 24 ; Mt. 4 : 4 – Do you taste it daily?
  6. Our best exercise = Prayer – Phil. 4 : 6 – Do you pray always?
  7. Our best medicine = Laughter – Prov. 17 : 22a – Do you laugh when you are at trials?
  8. Our best Dress = Righteousness – Eph. 6 : 14 ; 1 Cor. 1 : 31 – Have you worn the righteousness of God?
  9. Our best Manners = Gentleness – Phil. 4 : 5 – Are you gentle?
  10. Our best Relation = Love (1 Jn. 3 : 23) – Do you love others?
  11. Our best Service = Comforting others – 2 Tim. 4 : 2 ; 2 Cor. 1 : 3-5 – Do you spare time for gospel work to comfort others?
  12. Our best Lessons – Our failures – Prov. 24 : 16 – Do you learn lessons from your own failures?
  13. Our Best success = Attempts – Prov. 14 : 23a – Are you ever attempting for new achievements in counselling?
Z.      Simple outline for Biblical Counselling
  1. The need for Counselling = Sin / problems in life
  2. Guideness for Counselling = The word of God (Bible)
  3. Preparation for Counselling = Prayer
  4. Basic for every Counselling = Sympathetic Listening
  5. Power supplied for every Counselling = by the Holy Spirit
  6. Solution for problems in Counselling = in Jesus Christ
  7. Author of Every Counselling = The Lord (Is. 9 : 6).
  1. Counsellor
                   A Counsellor is the one who listens to the problems of client.  He also guides the client so that the client can successfully come out of his problem himself by the power of God’s word.
  1. Client / Counselee
                   A client is the one who approaches a Counsellor in order to get some guidance for overcoming his own problems.
  1. Listening
                   It is a process in which the Counsellor sympathetically listens to his client who speaks out his mind / problems.
  1. Questioning
                   It is also a process of Counselling, in which the Counsellor gets more and needed information from the client by the way of asking questions – either open-ended questions or closed questions or indirect questions.
  1. Open-ended Questions
                   These questions are used by the Counsellor when detailed answers are expected.  The answers of these questions are usually given in sentences.  These questions always start with the interrogative words like what, who, How where, when etc.
Note :  Questions start with “Why” are usually avoided by good Counsellors because many a times the client may not know the reasons “Why”.
  1. Closed Questions
                   These questions start with auxiliary verbs.  Usually, they begin with Do, Did, Is, Was, Have etc.  These questions are always answered by saying either “Yes” or “No”.  So they are known as closeod questions.
  1. Indirect questions
                   These questions are asked by using a statement form or summarizing the statements of client.
  1. Data-Gathering
                   It is a counselling process by which the counsellor collects necessary data by questioning the client regarding the problem.  The counsellor may file those data in a file / records which can be used for counselling the client in the next meet.
  1. Analysing the data
                   In analyzing, the counsellor classifies the data he has gathered from client into various level so that he can take necessary steps for further counselling with the client.
  1. Goal Setting
                   It is also counselling process in which the client sets at least a goal in order to overcome his problem.  However, the counsellor may help the client to set his goal only when it is necessary.
  1. Evaluation
                   It is a counselling process in which the client or the counsellor or both together evaluate the progress of counselling by evaluating whether the client achieves the goal which is set.
  1. Follow- up
                   It is also a counselling process in which the counsellor visits or meets the client to encourage him to achieve the goal which is set for future.  Follow up is necessary in every counselling.  The counsellor must decide himself, how often the follow-up must be done.
  1. Confrontation
                   It is a counselling process by which the counsellor carefully confronts the client in order to bring a change in the attitude or behaviour of client.  Confrontation is usually done when dealing with sin or inter-personal relationship related to counselling.  It is one of the very important process of counselling.  It must be done very carefully by the counsellor.  If it is not handled properly by the counsellor, it may break the counselling process or the relation between the counsellor and the client.  Confrontation is usually done at the middle stage of any counselling process if it is necessary.
  1. Communication
                   Communication is one of the best skill that every counsellor must develop.  He should be an able communicator so that he can communicate with the client effectively.
                   In counselling communication plays important role.  A counsellor is not only a communicator but also a good listener so that he can understand what the client communicates.  If communication between the counsellor and the client is coherent, counselling process will bring the best result. 
  1. Verbal Communication (words)
                   Verbal communication simply means what is communicated by the words either by speaking or by writing.  The words expressed reveal the thoughts of mind.  The words reflects what is in mind.  A counsellor must listen carefully what the client speak out.
  1. Body-Language (Non-Verbal Communication)
                   Body-Language means what is communicated through the action or movements of body.  Face is an important part of body which communicates more about our mind than our mouth (words).  The eyes express our mind to others as well.  Similarly, our hand gesture and body posture communicate our thoughts of mind.  In a sense, the whole body communicate more than our mouth.  Hence a counsellor must keenly observe the body language of the clients.  Although a client is unable to communicate through his mouth, he would communicate much through his body.
  1. Eye-Contact
                   Eye contact is also one of the important means of communication.  Hence the counsellor must maintain good eye-contact with the client.  He should not avoid eye-contact with the client.
  1. Counsellor-Client Relation
                   The Counsellor must show respect to the client irrespective of client’s age, caste, race, religion, sex etc.  In order to show his respect, the counsellor must use respectful word, such as “Thou” (Thou is respectful word of You). If the counsellor fails to respect, the client may not express or speak out.  It would certainly hinder the counselling process.
  1. Behavioural Change
                   Behaviour is related to moral aspect of man.  More often, the clients who come with problems will have negative behaviours, such as anxity, fear, anger.  Perhaps the root cause of their problem may be a negative behaviour.  In such cases, the client must be counselledto change his behaviour and thinking.  Right / Positive thinking is taught very well in the Bible for every behaviour (Phil. 4 : 8).  Bringing such behavioural change in the client is known as “Behavioural Change” in counselling.
  1. Argument
                   Counselling process may seldom get into argument.  It is dangerous.  The counsellor must be careful enough to avoid any argument with the client / counselee.
  1. Decision Making
                   This is one of the finest part / area in counselling.  However the decision must be taken by the client, himself / herself.  The Christian counsellor must guide the client to take decision based on God’s word.  The counsellor must show the references from the scripture to the counselee during the counselling sessions.  It will give enough knowledge on God’s word to the client, and help him to take decision according to God’s word.  Every decision must be taken by the counselee after prayer.
                   Before taking any hard or difficult decision, the client may consult with many experienced people who are in the respective field.  The counsellor may guide him how to consult with experienced people.
Ex.  If counselling related with business / Finance, the client may consult the experienced business people with the guidance of counsellor.
  1. Confidentiality
                   During the counselling process, the client may disclose some secrets about personal matters or about others to the counsellor.  The counselee  will not reveal any secrets until he believes the counsellor.  So every counsellor must keep the secrets of client.  He should not tell those secrets to others at any time.  So the counsellor must be a confidant, able to maintain confidential reports.  If such secrets are revealed to others, it may   damage the name of client or others.  If a counsellor is unable to keep secrets, he will bring disrespect to himself and to his profession of counselling.  So keeping the secrets ever secretely is known as confidentiality.
  1. Referral
                             Every counsellor has some limitations.  Ex: If a client comes with sickness, the counsellor may ask the advice of a doctor or some cases can not be handled by the counsellor himself.  In such a situation that case / client must be referred or guided to another counsellor who is capable of handling such cases.  (Ex) A criminal comes for counselling.  His emotional problem can be handled by the counsellor but his legal problem can not be handled by him.  So he has to guide the client to a good advocate who is able to be a counsellor too (or) when the client is opposite sex, he / she must be referred to other counsellor. (Possibly, the counsellor must be the same sex of the client).
  1. Time Management
                   Time Management is very much necessary in the life of a counsellor.  Proper time management will help him to avoid the waste of time.  Time is precious; it never comes back.  (Eph. 5 : 16).  He should plan his time – about personal devotion and prayer, and the Bible reading and his works.  He should maintain the time for counselling.  He must fix a particular time for counselling with the client.  As far as possible, he should keep time schedule.
  1. Stress – Management
                   Every counsellor sometimes goes under stress / tension due to busy work, counselling schedule etc.  Some of the signs of stress are divided into two categories; Mental and Physical signs.  Some mental signs are boredome, anger, lack of concentration, negative thoughts, phobias etc.  Physical signs are sleeplessness, disturbing dreams, blood pressure etc.  Hence every counsellor must be able to handle his / her stress.
Practical Tip for Stress Managemeent for Christian Counsellors
  1. Read and meditate the Bible regularly.
  2. Pray for God’s help always.
  3. Have good relationship with the family members.
  4. Have good friendship with other counsellors.
  5. Do Gardening if possible
  6. Visit nearby park / sea shore / Forest / Hill locations once in a week.
  7. Go for a stroll, if possible daily.
  8. Maintain good moral life.
  9. Often visit your relatives or school friends, if possible.
  10. Plan your time management and avoid procrastination.
  11. Go for a family picnic at least once in a year.
  12. Do physical exercies by playing or running.
  13. Think – right things (Phil. 4 : 8).
  14. Sing as you can (Don’t worry about your voice).
  15. Look at the stars and moon at night and think of the beauty of God’s handiworks.
  16. Take enough rest daily and weekly.
  17. Cast all your care upon God (1 Pet. 5 : 7 ; Heb. 11 : 6).
                   Counselling Practice / skill refers to counselling sessions.  In general, counselling has three steps or phases.
  • The Beginning Phase / Step one
  • The Middle Phase / Step two
  • The Ending Phase / Step three
                   In every counselling these three phases are vital.  Now let us see three steps with a little more detail.
  1. The Beginning Phase
                   In this phase a person (Counselee) comes to the counsellor with his problem for a counselling.  The counselling process begins as the counsellor accepts the counsellee.  The counselee speaks out his problems, emotions etc.  The counsellor patiently listens him.  Moreover the counsellor must assure to the counselee that he is with the counselee and that every thing will be kept confidential.  This way a trust is built between the counsellor and the counselee.  Unless the trust is built, the counselee will not speak out his problems all, especially if there is any secret.  So in the first phase, the counsellor must build the trust to the counselee, and he must pay active listening.  Usually questions are not asked to the counsellee in this phase.
  1. The Middle Phase
                   Before the beginning of this second phase, the trust is built.  Hence the counselee may speak out his / her problems clearly.  In this phase, the problems are discussed by questioning.  The counsellor may ask any type of questioning as it is necessary.  In order to get more details of problems, the counsellor better ask more open ended questions.  These questions help him to collect for data-gathering.
                   At any situation, the counsellor should not lie or give any false promises to the client.
  1. The Ending Phase
                   In this phase, every problem is discussed between the counsellor and the counselee.  They evaluate the counselling process and the counsellor helps the counsellee to set the goal.
                   Based on the set goal, the counselee takes the necessary steps to achieve the goal.  In order to achieve the main goal, sub-goals can be made.  These sub-goals will help both the counselee and counsellor to measure the progress of counselling, especially of the progress of the counselee.
                   When the main goal is achieved by the counselee, the counselling comes to the end.  The follow-ups can be made by the counsellor, if it is necessary.
                   Listening is very very important in counselling.  By a mere listening, many of the problems of counselee can be solved.  Hence, every one who wants to become a counsellor must develop the skill of listening.
The suggestions to developing Listening Skill
  1. Be yourself while listening.
  2. Avoid a wandering mind.
  3. Be patient when others speak.
  4. Do not interrupt other’s speaking.
  5. Avoid arguments unnecessarily.
  6. Do not have any bias against the counselee.
  7. Do not judge his / her motives and actions, prematurely.
Note : You can develop your listening skill in any other way that suits you better.
Student’s Assignment
  1. Discuss the need of Christian Counselling.
  2. What are the basic qualifications of a Biblical counsellor?
  3. Write the spiritual Check-List of a Biblical counsellor.
  4. Explain goal-setting in counselling.
  5. Discuss and explain, How will you counsel a married couple, when they come to you to solve the problem of their marriage relationship which is almost broken.
     How will you counsel a drug addicted person / youth.
Note :  Write the answers and send your answer sheet to CALS, with your name and Register Number written on it.