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.