Language is very important in counseling. Of course, God created language and he uses it all the time. He used it to create the universe. He used it to visit us in history. He used it to communicate with us to help us in our infirmity. We use it to communicate with one another. Involving people in the communication, thus language of God, is one of the goals of counseling. Consequently, language is very important in the counseling process.
Language is a two-way vehicle. It communicates information from one person to another. It can also be thought of in the opposite direction, it is the means by which one person receives information from another. It is very important for the counselor to keep both directions in mind when he interacts with the counselee. read more…
Gathering data is one of the most important parts of giving good and godly counsel (Pro. 18:13). The two primary ways a counselor can gather data are directly and indirectly. Jay Adams says “overtly and covertly” (The Biblical Counselor’s Manuel, p. 257ff.) Direct information comes as a result of asking the counselee for information and their responding by telling you what they think. Indirect information comes as you observe the counselee during the time you are with him. You notice he is sleepy, or rigid, or nervous, or that his eyes are dilated, or that he is sweating. You can tell a lot about a person by simply observing him. The information you gather when simply observing is called halo data. It is the data that goes all around the direct information you are gathering.
I agree with Bob Smith about observing halo data in a depressed person:
Depression is one of the conditions with much halo data. The first place to look is the most obvious — the counselee’s face. His face literally oozes a “what’s the use” attitude. His eyelids tend to droop, the corners of his mouth are turned down and seem to pull the entire facial expression down with them. His face is long, grim, and sad. He appears listless and generally expresses an air of helplessness or hopelessness. Written on his face is what is going on inside him.
All other visual and auditory clues or data follow the same pattern. His voice is quiet and his speech tends to be slow. His voice is a monotone with little or no expression. As he talks tears may come to his eyes. He may not look at the counselor but at the floor. He sits with a droop to his shoulders as though pushed down by the weight of the corners of his mouth. His hands rest limply in his lap. There is very little motion of his body as he talks. He walks slowly and at times almost shuffles. There is little life, spring, or bounce that shows some expenditure of energy. He is interested in doing what he does with as little effort as possible.
This describes the classic depression. All these things are not always present but there will be varying degrees of some of the signs present in most depressed people.
Occasionally a depressed person displays the exact opposite signs. He is overactive, fidgety, impatient, irritable, and talks fast but with disconnected speech. However, his physical symptoms are those of the classic depression.
The preconditioning level is “the long-standing underlying pattern of non-biblical responses which often stems back into childhood.” It is a term used by Jay Adams in Competent to Counsel to describe the third level of involvement in the counseling process (p. 148).
When the counselee comes to your office, he tells you what brought him to you in the first place (the presenting level), but the presenting problem is usually caused by something else going on in his life (the performance problem). When the performance problem is identified and examined more closely, it becomes apparent that behind the presenting problem stands a long pattern of life decisions and behaviors that result in the presenting problems. These patterns are called the preconditioning problems and are the result of things going on at the preconditioning level. Taken together, the presenting level, performance level, and the preconditioning level all point to the status of the heart. Out of the abundance of the mouth the heart speaks, acts, thinks, and is (Luke 6:43-45). read more…
A complicating problem, also called a secondary problem, is a problem that comes as a result of not handling the primary problem correctly in the first place. Jay Adams gives an example of complicating problems in his book Competent to Counsel, when he discusses how sin, not dealt with Biblically, spirals downward, out of control. He said, “Sinful habits are hard to break, but if they are not broken they will bind the client ever more tightly. He is held fast by these ropes of his own sin. He finds that sin spirals in a downward cycle, pulling him along. He is captured and tied up by sin’s ever-tightening cords. At length, he becomes sin’s slave” (p. 145). He goes on to use the event of Cain and Able in Genesis four as an example of this. Cain’s sacrifice was not accepted by God (4:5). Then Cain sat, seething and becoming more and more angry. God went to him and warned him not only about where he was headed, but also gave him a way out (4:7). Instead, Cain killed his brother Able and compounded his sin (4:8). Later, Cain added lying to the pile of sins (4:9), and he was forced to become a wanderer and a vagabond (4:12, 14). read more…
Working with people and their problems is often like working with an onion. To get to the heart of the matter, you often have to peel off several layers. People usually come to me with issues in their lives that they know they need to do something about. They know they are having trouble. What they don’t know is that the problems they know about are usually caused by problems they don’t know about. Sometimes these problems are sinful; sometimes they are not.
In either case, if you want to help a person with the problem they bring to you, you will need to go back and work with the underlying problems before you can help them with the problem they presented in the first place. In the biblical counseling world these two levels have names. The first level, the one the counselee brings to you is called the presentation level. The level that is usually causing the problems at the presentation level is called the performance level. There is another deeper level as well, but this will be dealt with in the next question. read more…
Hmmm not sure where you are going with this. But I will say I have 3 children in my home who have experienced trauma at a young age. Trauma effects our brains in a physical way which then plays out in emotions and behaviors because it effects our brains. Just like western medicine I am sure some researchers are Christian and some are not. But I can say the research that has been done is useful and should not be ignored.
This comment came in response to my last post. I thought I would say a few words about it. First, in the previous post, I was talking about the temptation to study the mind at the trough of the non-Christians and think that we are learning anything ultimately and independently helpful.
Second, The Bible tells us that sin is not allowed—ever. It also tells us that our thoughts, intentions, words, and behavior comes from our heart, not our brain. This means that no matter what has happened to our brains, we are not allowed to sin. Sin is still something that earns the wrath of God. Sin is something that needs to be owned, confessed, and repented of. read more…
Eclecticism is the thought that Christian counselors can take advantage of modern psychologies to enhance their counsel. It often comes on the heels of the following statement: “All truth is God’s truth, but not all truth is in the Bible.” From there, the argument proceeds to look at the problems in the world around us and proposes solutions, based on non-Christian psychology, as if they have equal or even higher authority. for the cure of souls.
But we are Christians. We stand on the Bible as the Word of God, the creator of Heaven and earth. It is true that all truth is God’s truth and that not all truth is in the Bible. But how we know what that truth is is measured by what is in the Bible, not by some standard outside the Bible. For example, we know from the Bible that God is a God of order (1 Cor. 14:33). We also know that he is not a man and thus cannot lie (Heb. 6:18). This is how we know that 2+2=4 and always will. We know a lot about the world around us because we observe different things. Because God made the world in a particular way, we can only make inferences from what we observe if the same events will happen the next time all the conditions are right. And it is the way it is and not some other way because the God of the Bible is the same God who created the world and he doesn’t change. read more…
Biblically speaking, guilt is the state of a person who has done something against the commandment of God. In fact the Hebrew word for guilt refers to the punishment that should be dealt out because of the transgression. It has more to do with the fact and penalty of sin than it does with the feeling of having sinned. I would say that the feeling that comes with sin would be more biblically called shame rather than guilt. When Adam and Eve sinned in the garden, they disobeyed a command of God and earned the punishment of death, and thus were guilty of having sinned. When anyone in Israel sinned against God and realized their guilt, they were to bring an offering to the Lord. The offering removed the guilt by dying in the place of the person who actually sinned (Lev. 5:5-6 for example).
False guilt is what we refer to when a person violates some standard other than the Word of God. They may have disobeyed a house rule, or their own conscience, or some other outside rule and thus they feel guilty. But if the standard is not the Word of God, they have not sinned against God, they only feel like they have. False guilt is just that— false guilt. Fake guilt. No guilt. Simply feelings of guiltiness. These feelings are there because the person is too introspective, too focused on themselves. The person might be afraid God is angry with him. But if he has not sinned, his feelings are false. He needs to repent of allowing himself to think like this and stop feeling guilty for no reason. read more…
September 1st, 2014 Comments Off
Homework, “at its best…is intended simply as a means for beginning and maintaining the regular practice of godliness required by Paul in 1 Timothy 4:7” (Adams, The Christian Counselor’s Manual, p. 298ff).
Homework allows God to do the work in the heart of the counselee rather than thinking that the counselor, is the healer of souls. This is because the homework happens in the presence of God, in the counselee’s home rather than in the presence of the counselor and in his office. Homework causes the counselee to look God in the face as he opens the Scriptures and hears the voice of God speaking to him. In the privacy of his own home, the counselee is able to pour out his life and heart to God and humbly ask for change and a new life. The counselor guides the counselee in telling him to whom to go for help, and where in the Word to go for help. But then, because the work is actually done at home, the counselor is able to get out of the way and let God work.
Homework sets a pattern for expectation of change. Right from the beginning, the counselee sees that God will be working through him as he does what God expects him to do. It is not that the counselee is doing the work, but that he is offering himself to God in a way that allows God to work through him to change his heart. Good homework gives hope to the counselee. It is a positive view of life and of God that gives the counselee hope for the future and a changed and joy filled life. read more…
Data gathering is collecting information. It is done several ways, the most obvious is the Personal Data Inventory Sheet. Another is simply asking good questions that reveal the counselee’s heart.
Gathering data is important for several reasons: First, the process is helpful in building the relationship between the counselor and counselee. While the counselor does not want to spend his whole time “bonding” with the counselee, trust is very important in the counseling process.
Second, gathering information is very important in making sure the counselor really understands the situation the counselee is describing. He needs to know not only the facts as the counselee remembers them, but also the emotional state, motives, spiritual state, and results of the various things that happen in the counselee’s life. The Bible says, “If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame” (Pro. 18:13). Many counselors have spoken before they know all the information they need to make a wise pronouncement or suggestion.
Third, sometimes gathering data is important for the counselee as much as for the counselor. Sometimes the counselor might know exactly how to “fix” the counselee’s problem, but they can’t say it to the counselee in a way that they will hear or understand. Gathering data in the right way can reveal hidden motives, heart responses, and sinful patterns to the counselee that he had never thought about before. In biblical counseling it is important that the counselee understand what is going on in his life and sometimes a wise counselor can help him learn about himself and God in a less direct way.