Experiences with what is known as Biblical Counselling or Nouthetic Counselling?


I am serving in a church that has been strongly affected by 'biblical counselling' as the only legitimate counselling people should seek as Christians.  Please enlighten

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The premise of nouthetic counseling is that we simply need to find the appropriate Biblical solution and trust the power of the Holy Spirit to effect the sort of change that is required for us to transform / conform our thinking and behaving more closely with scriptural principles for living. www.gotquestions.org/nouthetic-counseling.html

Inherent in this approach is the idea that psychology is a secular endeavor and therefore has little to offer by way of healing. By such logic medicine too can be called a secular endeavor.  Should we forsake its advances and rely strictly on the Biblical approach of laying on of hands?  Do not get me wrong here Peter, I have gone to a sick person who has asked me to pray for them and lay hands on them but they also went for treatment. If they go for medicinal treatment are they demonstrating a lack of faith?

In the same way a counselor can search the scriptures and ask for the Holy Spirit’s power for a client but they should be trained in psychology as well. Clients come for help with a whole range of life experiences that may effect the expected outcome of counseling.  Having some knowledge and training in cognitive and behavioral issues or in family systems can be very important in understanding the client and his or her problem(s). One issue with Nouthetic Counseling is that Biblical solutions are often applied with little regard to differences in gender, cultural backgrounds, disabilities, age, etc…

Jesus tells Nicodemus that people refuse to come to the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. James tells us to confess our sins to one another so that we can be healed and John tells us that perfect loves drives out fear. Clearly, sharing our sin with each other is important. Accountability is a Biblical Principle and counseling is a wonderful ministry to enable such. A few things to consider are;

1.       THAT we hide our real / true SELF from one another is evil.

2.       WHAT we hide is one thing. Revealing this about our self is just the beginning.

3.       HOW we hide is another. Most of us are blind as to how we do this. When a client comes for counseling they demonstrate how they hide by how they talk, by idiosyncratic behaviors, by what they say and what they do not say, all of which needs to be dealt with gracefully and mercifully knowing full well that the counselor has their own ways of hiding.

4.       WHY we hide WHAT we hide and WHY we hide HOW we hide is also very important. The WHY gives credence to gender, cultural, familial and a host of other differences, the differences that God uses to create and recreate us.

5.       WHO we reveal our self to needs to be a righteous person, by which I mean a humble believer, a vulnerable believer, a non-judgmental believer, a person who knows that standing before the almighty with chocolate on our face is not about justice but about mercy. Exposing the self is for the experience of having our Father wipe our face clean with a wash cloth in one hand and a cookie in the other.

Finding a good counselor is not always easy. A good place to begin is to look at their track record.

Rev. K. VanderVeen, B.A Psych; M.A. (counseling).