Types of Christian counselling

There are so many counselling options available - how do you know which ones to go for? Most people identify three levels of counselling: support, counselling and therapy. This can be biblical, 'nouthetic' or person-centred.

1 -- The sort of support you get from colleagues, friends and family. Just because people don't have a qualification doesn't mean they aren't helpful. A good person to go to is someone who is recommended by several people. Also, just having a cup of tea or an arm roound a shoulder is a good place to start. The main difficulties most informal helpers have is knowing when more help is needed and cn sometimes try to 'fix' problems that are too deepy rooted or long standing.

2 -- The next level up is what is most often called 'counselling' and will typicaly involve several sessions of about and hour meeting 1-2- with someone. Depending on the type of counselling, the counsellor may talk a lot or be quite silent, but it is often a mixture of listening and prompting - believeing that many of the answers are actually inside the person. One problem with this is that the person may be genuinely at a loss and a word of advice or teaching might be more useful.
3 -- The most complex level [I'm not using the word 'advanced' deliberately' is what might often be called 'psychotherapy', This might be like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy which focusses on the 'here and now' or a more Freudian/Dynamic approacj which looks at personality and childhood/developmental factors. Psychotherapists typically have the longest training and will be best equipped to deal with extremes of risk and emotion as they are often part of local NHS services with high levels of support.

Should you see a Christian or not?


There are pros and cons to this. You may want to discuss spcific Christian content with a mature Christian - in which case you should see a Christian. However, there is the risk of falling into 'Christian-ese' [shorthand terms used by Christians] which can mean you are not DEEPLY thinking about what you mean or having to explain yourself. Actually, seeing a non-Christian can make you really think what you mean and explain yourself. You will also be sharing your faith in all you say. This research dissertation covers the topic in lots of detail.

What types of Chrstian counselling are there?

1 -- Christians who Counsel. These are people of a Christian faith, but who do not explicitly bring their faith into the session except when asked or to inform their own ideas about the client they are counselling. They may even be reluctant to discuss their own views about Christianity as they know many people seeking counselling have had others' views forced upon them and so instead they will try to help the person find God within them in a way they can understand.
2 -- Nouthetic Counselling. This is counselling directly from the pages of scripture and the Bible. It has the advantage of being 'accurate' according to the Bible, but sometimes people can find this very harsh and stark, especially if they were wanting interpersonal contact and understanding.
3 -- Biblical Counselling is Biblically based adn there is an expectation that there is 'an answer' out there to be found, but takes into account that for many people this is a journey and also brings modern psychological techniques to bear. A good book on this is 'Instruments in the Redeemers Hands' and can be found in the Book Review section.


Rob Waller, 24/07/2008
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