This paper is the development of my personal theory on Christian Counseling. I use many scriptural references to support my beliefs and stress the importance of gaining wisdom and knowledge from the bible. It incorporates all of the presentations, readings, and critiques I did at Liberty University’s Theology and Spirituality in counseling course. I talk about how I integrate Psychology, Theology, and Spirituality into my Christian counseling and believe that they all have a lot to offer the Christian counselor. The role of integration and multitasking is necessary to be an effective Christian counselor under the guidelines of the American Association of Christian Counselors. The methods and skills of a beneficial Christian counselor is to recognize their limits and boundaries, continue education, fellowship, and present themselves in a Christ-like manner.
This paper takes a look at numerous Christian authors and how their theories of counseling have influenced and helped me develop my own theory of counseling. Through multitasking any counselor can view a situation through many different perspectives. It is not one method that will bring about healing in a person, but an integration of numerous methods and theories. A close look at understanding human personality, where problems are developed, how to source problems and structure effective intervention, and looking at how my worldview influences my theory, outlines in detail the construction of my comprehensive counseling theory.
What is Important for Understanding Human Personality?
As a counselor it is important to understand the development of a client’s personality and Dr. Hawkins (2006) presents a model of human personality through his concentric circles. God is in the center, then the Soul, Body, Temporal Systems, and on the outside Supernatural. When one system is not
functioning properly other systems begin to be affected. Everyone was created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:27). Christians are to strive to become Christ-like and this does not happen without discipline.
The theories of Adam’s (1986) are based on 2 Timothy 3:16-17 which says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” Adam’s counseling relies on the Holy Spirit to convict the person to want to change after hearing the truth of the Word of God. He discredits psychology and believes that God is the only one needed to motivate a person to change.
This is one of the more extreme theories and is correct in that God needs to be the main source one taps into. God, throughout the bible, used many different ways to motivate His people to change. One way was through a donkey that spoke to Balaam after he struck him three times for not moving (Numbers 22). “The angel of the LORD asked him, “Why have you beaten your donkey these three times? I have come here to oppose you because your path is a reckless one before me. (Numbers 22:32 New International Version). There are many ways that God will use to motivate change.
Dr. Wilson (2001), Backus, and Chapian (2000) take a different approach with one’s past hurts and his or her interpretation of them being what motivates them. When one is hurt by others they are more likely to continue the cycle of hurt. Romans 12:17 says, “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone (NIV).” Wilson did not want the person to minimize the wrong that has been done to them, but give it over to God and allow God to heal their wounds. Backus and Chapian feel that if one can change his or her thinking then they can change his or her future behaviors. They all agree that one’s past can either hinder them or push them forward to being motivated to change.
Crabb (1986) believes growth and change are an ever changing process for both the counselor and the counselee. He feels that one is suffering from “unreachable goals, external circumstances and fear of failure” (p. 76). He takes the approach that the church can develop programs that can help those who want to change. The three general levels of counseling that Crabb presents are “Level I-Counseling By Encouragement, Level II- Counseling By Exhortation and Level III-Counseling By Enlightenment” (p. 190). The person acting as the counselor needs to build a relationship with the person for any level of his methods to really be effective. The relationship helps one to be motivated to open up and want to change. The process and ways to counsel are always changing. Knowing different theories, how to use them, and when to use them is what makes an effective counselor.
Human development is an ongoing process of not just, Hawkins concentric circle known as, the body, but the soul. His Temporal Systems circle that includes family, friends, church, society, government, economy, and education are what help shape and develop these areas of one’s life. During this process of human development painful things happen and if not dealt with can cause damaging results later. The title of Wilson’s book, Hurt People Hurt People, is a perfect description of what can happen. Wilson, knowing change is not easy, said it best when she said, “We must enter the change process with open eyes. When we do, we’ll see that the necessary truth requires tears, time and even some terror” (p. 96). God reminds us in Philippians 4:13 that we “can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” The process of human development is not an easy or painless one, but in the end we become more like Christ, which is the ultimate goal.
The counseling process is not about one method working for every person, but each person being an individual with specific plans for change. This is why it is important to find out the clients culture, beliefs, and lifestyle experiences that have shaped them to this point. Western culture emphasizes individuality and coming into one’s own person, but not all cultures encourage this. This is why it is important to allow the client to be the educator during the assessment process. When forming a specific strategy for transformation counselors integrate his or her education and the knowledge they gained from the individual client, which then generates a platform for discipline.
One of these disciplines is learning boundaries, according to Cloud and Townsend (1999). Hebrews 12:11 says, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” This is why Cloud and Townsend go on to say, “The painful discipline of boundaries will eventually bear good results in our lives” (p. 203). One does not change and become a whole individual overnight, but with hard work, discipline, and willingness to go through the process it can eventually happen. Where Problems are Developed
Conceptualizing Health and Wellness
A person needs to look past the “why” and focus on the healing. God understands that unpleasant things happen, but does not want one to dwell on the evil, because it can create even additional sickness. In creating complete physical and spiritual wholeness scripture, positive fellowship, and prayer are vital. Anderson (2006) recognizes how the different Temporal Systems, Hawkins presented, can negatively impact a person’s behavior. This then can manifest destructively into our physical bodies. One again overcomes this by binding it in the supernatural and allowing God to heal them from the inside out. God says, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalms 147:3). The person needs to surround themselves with positive people who will uplift and encourage them. The different Temporal Systems can either affect one negatively or positively and some of that responsibility is on the person. Hart (2001) discusses some practical things that can be done to gain physical and spiritual wholeness.
These things included, but were not limited to, sleep, healthy eating, exercise, and sometimes medication. Sleep and rest are one of the easiest and cheapest of the methods and also the one that is always put aside as unimportant. There are some cultures that set aside specific times in the day to rest, for different reasons. Christians need to learn from these cultures and also take heed to God when he said in Exodus 23:12, “Six days do your work, but on the seventh day do not work.” This scripture is not meant to be taken to the extreme, but to be understood that “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27). God wants us to understand the importance and power of rest in relationship to wellbeing.
Psychological and Spiritual Illness
There are times in life when one will experience spiritual brokenness and need to seek God and counsel for wholeness. The stories in the bible are not just for historical reasons, but to give us examples on how to live our lives. David was a man who endured many hardships and attacks, but he relied on God to be his protector and restorer. David at one point in his life went away to the Cave of Adullam, which means refuge. Sometimes the counseling setting is the place of refuge for the client and the counselor needs to allow God to guide and direct them in the healing process.
David said a prayer to God, while in the cave, which began with vocalizing his anguish, but ends with: I cry to you, Lord; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.” Listen to my cry, for I am in desperate need; rescue me from those who pursue me, for they are too strong for me. Set me free from my prison, that I may praise your name. Then the righteous will gather about me because of your goodness to me (Psalms 142:5-7). Counselors need to guide the counselee to a place of desperation and realization that there is freedom in Christ.
There are many reasons for a client to be psychologically unhealthy and a counselor needs to do a thorough evaluation to measure the severity of it. This will benefit not only the client, but the counselor when deciding a treatment plan. There are some psychological and mental illnesses that a counselor is not equipped to handle and a referral to a psychiatrist might be needed. Anderson feels that most mental disorders are from the enemy and not due to chemical changes or neurological disorders. This way of thinking can be very dangerous for the client and the counselor. It does not matter where the psychological anguish comes from, but how to treat it. A counselor always wants to be competent in the treatment of psychological and spiritual illnesses or refer there client to another.
Hart believes that anxiety is one of the leading psychological illnesses facing Americans today and counselors need to learn the different methods for treating it. He presents many different methods that could work for not only Christians, but for anyone struggling with anxiety. His advice, for how to maintain a healthier body and soul, is practical and very relevant. The counselor needs to take the time to understand what each client is dealing with spiritually and psychologically. They need to have knowledge of many different theories and treatment methods for both and how to implement them. The client needs to determine if they want to incorporate God in their healing process. Once this is established the counselor can then work with the client on a treatment plan for healing. Role of Integration and Multitasking
As a Christian counselor one needs to learn the skill of integrating psychological, theological and spiritual counseling methods into the counseling process. Crabb presents four ways Christian counselors integrate psychology, theology, and the bible into the counseling process. Separate but Equal (keeping them completely separate), Tossed Salad (blending of them all with no sifting of Psychology and theology), and Nothing Buttery (disregarding Psychology altogether), and a Spoiling the Egyptians approach (integrating them all into one’s counseling) are the four methods he presents.
A Christian counselor is accountable to God and needs to rely on Him to show them how to integrate different methods of psychology and theology to the counseling process. The scriptures say it best in Titus 2:7-8, “In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.” Multitasking is the main component in discerning and recognizing the real needs of the client and is to be taken seriously.
How to Source Problems and Structure Effective Intervention
Key Elements of my Comprehensive Theory
As a Christian counselor it is my job to educate myself on the numerous theories being used today and what I want to use in my own counseling practice. I do not agree with any one theory presented by the numerous authors, but gleaned from each one. I believe, like Crabb and Hawkins, that the problem at the surface is not necessarily the main issue that needs dealing with. I want to get to the root of issues and lead the client to complete wholeness and freedom. Galatians 5:1 says, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Anderson talks about how one allows the enemy power in their lives and does not realize what little power he has. I recognize that educating Christians on the power of Christ and the authority they have over the enemy will empower them in the healing process.
Adams methods are based on 2 Timothy 3:16-17 which says, “all scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” I agree with him and this scripture verse, but I do not shut out psychology altogether like he does.
Scriptures, like Isaiah 58: 6-11, have been an inspiration in my own personal healing. Isaiah 58:11 says, “The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.” I know the power of knowing the scripture and implementing it in my life. This is why as a Christian counselor the use of scripture would be necessary in any healing process I choose for the client. I as a counselor want to be guided by the Lord and use whatever method he reveals to me to bring others healing in their lives. It is important to me, as a Christian counselor, to find a balance in the use of scripture, numerous theories, and psychology.
Process and Techniques
The counseling process is guided by many codes of ethics mainly set up by the American Counseling Association (ACA, 2012) and American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC, 2012). I personally am guided by the scripture, “brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8). The way one counsels will not be effective if the counselor is not acting in a moral and ethical way.
Cloud and Townsend talk about the use of boundaries in all aspect of life. This is not just for the client to learn, but the counselor in relation to the counseling process. As a Christian counselor I do not want to turn anyone away and therefore need to know how to integrate many different techniques. Scripture is not just for the believer, but has many moral principles that can be used for anyone seeking help. Jesus taught in parables, so that anyone could understand Him. I want implement techniques specific to each client in a way they will understand.
Demonstration of Effectiveness
I am a firm believer that to be an effective counselor I need to have allowed God to work in my life first. Mathew 7:3 says, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” This scripture is talking about not judging others, but the principle can be used for the counselor as well. How can one counsel on healing and freedom, when they themselves are not free?
The counselor also needs to educate him or herself on various methods of treatment to be able to create specific and effective treatment plans for the client. It is important to be flexible in the process and allow room for the Holy Spirit to guide the sessions. Every client is unique and not one method will work for each situation. Hawkins’s concentric circles theory allows the counselor to listen to the client and learn from them. Counselor takes more time to listen to the client and find out what affects the person in each circle and what is important. This method of counseling allows for the counselor to be educated and for a more specific treatment plan to be developed.
How my Worldview influences my Theory
View of Psychology, Theology, and Spirituality
I personally feel that psychology, theology, and spirituality all have a place in the counseling process. God is my guide and the one whom I filter everything through. I will not practice those theories that discredit the bible or go against biblical principles. Christian counselors need to study the scriptures and have a solid foundation to filter different theories through. Mathew 6:33 says, “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” When I seek God He will in turn give me wisdom as I learn about different methods and theories.
Approach to Integration
The mind obtains knowledge, but the heart and soul produce wisdom. An effective counselor does not just seek knowledge, but wisdom. Counseling is a calling that in turn requires great responsibility, “We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have exploited no one” (2 Corinthians 7:2). I have an ethical and moral responsibility to my clients and can only maintain this with the help of Christ.
Through the different readings in this course and the knowledge obtained thus far, I was able to develop a foundation for my theories about the counseling process. I recognize the importance of knowing the bible and seeking God for wisdom on filtering different theories that are presented to me. There are many types of sicknesses spiritual, physical, and psychological and I now have more effective ways to handle each one. I will continue to develop this theory as I gain more knowledge and wisdom in this counseling program at Liberty University and during my many years of as counselor.