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sk8rgrl23 December 28th, 2005 03:05 PM

Re: What exactly is Christian Counseling
That's what I was hoping for. I have posted questions on this on a couple other bulletin boards on this topic, and have gotten all kinds of repsonses, some agree wtih me wholeheartedly, others want to chase me off the planet.But so far I have gotten no real concrete information on what this is.

William Reid December 29th, 2005 09:02 AM

Re: What exactly is Christian Counseling
Since you're getting few responses, and little concrete help, maybe you should do a brief study or survey on the topic. Seriously, some literature review and an objective survey of some kind might be a nice contribution to the professional literature. I could see a couple of possible topics: (1) How do the people who do it (or say they do it) define it (there may be several answers), and/or (2) what is the perception from outside the Christian (or other-religion-based) field (either other professionals or laypersons).

Maybe you could even find a grad student who needs a research project to do some of the leg work.

sk8rgrl23 January 17th, 2006 10:25 AM

Re: What exactly is Christian Counseling
THat's an excellent idea. I kind of got pulled away from this for a bit (holiday stuff) but I'm just about ripe for a little project. I just knew my alumni library privileges would come in handy some day......

William Reid January 18th, 2006 10:58 AM

Re: What exactly is Christian Counseling
Great. Go to it, and keep us apprised of your results. Let me know if you get data that you think is worth publishing; I work with some professional journals (mostly psychiatric, however).

Charles McNeil February 24th, 2006 01:02 PM

Re: What exactly is Christian Counseling

Originally Posted by William Reid
Ah, Da Friendly is still around. Good.

Just a quick observation (and maybe I'm being picky): Neither of the last two posters consistently capitalized "Bible" or "Christian." Given that proper grammar demands capitalization, and respect for others' beliefs suggests the same, is there some reason, or was it just an oversight? I must admit that I purposely avoid capitalizing "scientology."

A nosh is a snack, sk8rgrl. One out of two ain't bad.

Yeah, that's a bit picky. :) :eek: :) I don't capitalize religious terms regardless of faith tradition. I don't do so to slight anyone, it's just that to me, a non-believer for the most part, it would feel to me as if I cared more about the terms and what they represent than I actually do. However, I might feel differently if I was a member of the religion in question.

BTW, is anyone here aware of the fact that "dianetics counselor" either is or was previously indexed in the US DOT (Dictionary of Occupational Titles) as if it were a legitimate occupation? (John Revolta please forgive me! :D ) Among the essential skills is listed activities such as "use of an E-Meter", etc. I had this come up in a VALPAR assessment I once interpreted for a client. This is one of among many reasons I now refuse to employ VALPAR as a vocational evaluation strategy. I can't in good conscience use a device that would suggest that cult membership would be a GOOD THING for any of my clients.



William Reid February 25th, 2006 10:30 AM

Re: What exactly is Christian Counseling
Your discovery of "dianetics counselor" in a federal occupations list is very interesting. Didn't know that. I for one will pass the info along to try to learn more. Anyone know further about that?

Thanks also for your other two posts.


John Simon March 5th, 2006 03:30 AM

Re: What exactly is Christian Counseling
In this situation, it might be easy to fail to recognize the concept of a counselor practicing bad therapy rather than a counselor practicing Christian counseling since you are not familiar with Christian counseling in general. Some Christian counselors suck and many mainstream counselors suck. THis might not be surprising in the sense that some engineers suck or some lawyers suck. I am sorry you had a bad experience with this person. My understanding is that Christian counselors might be willing to discuss what the Bible says about a person's problems but usually only after a person identifies themselves as a Christian. In my experience, the bulk of a Christian counselor's business comes from other Christians. Many Christians want to go to a Christian counselor because they do not want to be judged for their beliefs. After all, many people view all Christians as right wing fundamentalists. So if a client states that he wants to get a divorce, the counselor might discuss this idea against the person's faith. Whereas the typcial therapsit might not even think to ask about how that decision meshes with a person's faith. Also, we are forgetting about informed consent. If in the informed consent paperwork, the therpaist describes how he would be willing to pray with the client or discuss decisions against the bibile or disucss the person's faith then it does clear the way to talka bout these subjects. Of course, if the person says to stop then the therpaist needs to stop. Bascially, through informed consent, the client can decide if they want to work with this type of therapist. Now of course I realize that you can not put anything you want in the informed consent paperwork such as "I do dual realtionships." However, the therapsit can explain where they come from in terms of a frame of reference.


sk8rgrl23 March 5th, 2006 01:32 PM

Re: What exactly is Christian Counseling
Hi John and thanks for your reply. However, that still doesn't answer to part of my question which is "what does a Christian counselor do that I don't?" From an ethical standpoint, we as therapists are obligated to take a nonjudgmental stance, so the question of me or another "secular" therapist judging someone for their beliefs is ideally a moot point. (Are there secular therapists that deride people's beliefs systems? Of course there are, but there are also Christian counselors like the one I witnessed that deride people who believe differently than they do.)

I work for a public mental health agency. Nothing in our agency policy says anything about not being permitted or in any way discouraged from engaging in therapeutic discussions of spirituality and religion. If I appear judgmental in any way, it's only when I see something happening with the client that appears detrimental. I get concerned when a person is engaged in a belief system that impinges on a person's free will, for example. I also get concerned when I see religion used as a way to oppress a person, such as is sometimes seen in cases of domestic violence, where the concept of "submitting to your husband" is taken to an extreme.

Personally I believe in working within a person's framework and personal set of ethics. I have worked with people of all faiths from Eastern religions, to New Age to Christians who adhere strictly to the Bible.

But I also work hard at keeping the two schools separate. Spirituality can be therapeutic, but it is not therapy, any more than mental health counseling or any theoretical orientation is a religion.

I haven't gotten there yet, but I want to start digging up literature and see if there's any empirical support of Christian counseling as a form of therapy in its own right, or more fundamentally, what do they say they do that the rest of us don't?

John Simon March 5th, 2006 11:06 PM

Re: What exactly is Christian Counseling
I mostly agree with what you are saying. However, you might not be judgmental but you also might not ask how a client's decision meshes with their religious beliefs. Even if you did ask, they might not know and might be looking to the counselor to help them with this part of the equation. I doubt a secular therapist would take the time to read the Bible so they could help the client with their decision. The Christian counselor can point the person to the relevant Bible passages etc. I beleive that you will find that most Christian counselors that are trained use CBT or Psychodynamic or some other typical theory. You might think of it as a specialty within the therapeutic community similar to a person who works with transgendered individuals or the gay community. Of course, someone who works with a gay individual might use the same CBT framework that you use. However, having worked within this community for a while, they might also be able to discuss nuanced information with the client that you or I are not aware of. To start you on your journey, I would suggest that you look at an article on the subject in the Psychotherapy Networker. I beleive it was about 3-5 years ago. It provided an in-depth discussion about the differences. It was quite informative. I doubt you will find statistical infomration on the subject any more than you would find statistical studies on whether counseling helps gay individuals. The real focus should be on the diagnosis and whether or not the therapist treats that effectively.


William Reid November 23rd, 2007 11:52 AM

Re: What exactly is Christian Counseling
Thanks for reading this thread! The Law, Ethics and Psychotherapy Forum gets a lot of readers, but few new posts. You are invited to contribute statements, comments or questions to keep the forum alive. Pick something you like, or something you don't like, but don't let the threads go stagnant! All I ask is that we avoid personal questions from patients (we can't do clinical work or second-guess therapists here, but we can have professional discussions among clinicians about ethics or forensic scenarios). We also avoid personal attacks.

The possibilities are endless. You can simply reply to a post in an existing thread, or start a new one. Do you have questions or experiences that involve the ethics or legal aspects of training? clinical work? termination? malpractice or malpractice lawsuits? forensic careers? criminal matters related to mental health? boundaries? work with courts or lawyers? work in correctional institutions? work with parolees or probationers? clinician impairment? laws affecting practice?

Choose something you're familiar with or something you want to know more about. If you want suggestions, you're welcome to check out my website at

Bill Reid, Forum Administrator

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