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Unread December 13th, 2005, 12:05 PM
sk8rgrl23 sk8rgrl23 is offline
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 53
Question What exactly is Christian Counseling

I really want to keep an open mind on this, but recently I've been confronted with two incidents of what I see as really bad therapy with a Christian spin to it. One is related to a client I just started seeing that came from a christian counseling center describing some serious ethical boundary violations, but since I didn't observe this firsthand, I"m going to comment on the incident I did experience first hand.

Last Saturday I went to a training that had been approved for CEU's by our state licensing board. The title was 'group leader training for sexual abuse survivors," which is right up my alley. When I got the packet I noticed it was from a christian "academy" and I was initially skeptical but I said, "No Monica, let's keep an open mind on this, they probably are not related to Pat Robertson." I went expecting to learn some new approaches and interventions, but what I got was Bible Study (which I can't use given that I work for a public mental health agency), gay bashing and overall gross insensitivity to the needs and vulnerabilities of sexual abuse victims. As one example of the level of incompetence I observed, two of the forms in the "workbook" (read: a plastic-binded set of xeroxed pages of irrelevant and biased data for which I was asked to pay $15) it included a registration form which asks prospective gruop members/clients to disclose specificially what type of abuse they suffered, including who did it and what body parts were involved. This registration form supposedly is to be collected (by whom?) and kept (where?) and used for (what?). Another form in there was a "no suicide" contract-so the people who put htis together have some rudimentary knowledge of the risks involved-but it only said to call your group leader if you are feeling suicidal. This training, as it turns out, was primarily geared to train people to go back to their churches to train people themselves to lead a "support" group on this. so a suicidal gruop member is being asked to seek help from a lay person who is unlikely to have even the most basic training in crisis intervention.

The other part of this, that leads me to question what exactly is christian counseling, is that the workbook included selected passages from the Bible, and were mostly irrelevant to the issue. Much of the language in the workbook, designed to be used directly with clients, included language derrogatory to gays and anyone in a nontraditional family structure. When questioned the instuctor, a licensed counselor, stated that her clients know when they come to her that she is a christian counselor so they know what to expect and she makes no apologies for her beliefs.

So given these two recent incidents, being my only contact with the world of Christian counseling, I'm led to believe that this isn't so much therapy as it is religious ministering, as the therapy seems to be designed around the therapist's religious framework rather than the client's. also, my impression given her statements is that she treats only Christian clients. Given her stated position and my impressions from this really poorly designed training and grouip format, I"m wondering if this particluar counselor has any real interventions other than bible reading.

But none of this looks to me like it qualifies as therapy, for much the same reason as Intelilgent Design is not science. If there are any Christian counselors out there who can give me an explanation of how interventions specific to Christianity can be used that are supported by research, I'm all ears. Otherwise, I fail to see any advantages to Christian counseling over mainstream counseling, as we are all supposedly bound to certain ethics, which include helping the client and treating them fairly and not imposing the therapist's beliefs on the client.
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