What is Christian Counseling?

|318 By Dr. Bill Gillham (www.Lifetime.org) 

“Christian” Counseling must counsel the soul with techniques generated by the Spirit of God; counseling which is not Christian counsels the soul with techniques generated by the spirit of this world. “…I heard you refer to obsessive/compulsive disorders on your radio program. That’s a problem I have. I feel that I must spin around precisely three times and flip the light switch once before leaving the house, especially when I’m nervous about something. Do you think you can help me?” Would you throw up your hands at how to help this woman? Would you send her to a “professional”? That’s what I would have felt like doing, even after I’d completed my doctoral studies in counseling. I knew what the textbooks said, the techniques and procedures to use, but I also knew that the success rate for treating folks who were struggling with this behavior was far from encouraging. I would have felt helpless, hopeless, inadequate. Her problem is not uncommon. Many of you know someone who is troubled by obsessive/compulsive behavior, though it may not be incapacitating. It could be as harmless as a baseball player who feels that he must step on second base, heading for his position. Should he fail to do so, it would interfere with his concentration. He would feel insecure, as though a piece were missing, and worrisome thoughts would plague him. Next inning, he’d make sure to step on that base. So what would you do with the woman who wrote us the letter? Would you see her problem as light-years beyond the abilities of a pastor or plain-vanilla layman in the church? Okay, let’s say that the therapist we refer her to is a Believer. Since he knows Jesus, is even perhaps on the church staff, the therapy will be Christian…or will it? Tell me, does a Christian mechanic use Christian oil and grease? When we use the word Christian as an adjective, we imply that the skills and techniques—even the results—of the practitioner are Christian. Have you ever used a “Christian mechanic” who left a lot to be desired as a craftsman? It’s better to describe him as a “mechanic who is a Christian.” I would have no problem using the services of an unsaved, skilled, orthopedic surgeon to set my fractured hip. When I submit myself to his knife, I’m more interested in his surgical skill than his theology. But submitting myself to a counselor who uses therapy developed by the minds of lost mentors is dramatically different. Counseling that is Christian must counsel the soul with techniques generated by the Spirit of God; counseling which is not Christian counsels the soul with techniques generated by the spirit of this world. Attaching scripture to such therapy does not make it Christian in that the goals of these two therapies are diametrically opposed. Holy Spirit-led therapy seeks to lead the soul to abandon all hope in personal strength and thus to total reliance upon Christ’s strength, while secular therapy seeks to lead the soul to greater autonomy (alas, even with “God’s help”)! I don’t question the sincerity or integrity of any counselor who is a committed Christian, assuming his desire is to help people overcome their problems in a Christ-honoring manner. But my concern is this: Does this counselor use Christian therapy or psychotherapy in his counseling? Let’s face it, while both saved and lost plumbers may do an adequate job using identical wrenches, there is a world of difference between counseling with Biblically-based therapy and psychotherapy. While Biblical counseling seeks to lovingly cut the Believer’s fleshly water supply off and lead him to tap in to the rivers of living water (Holy Spirit) within, psychotherapy seeks to prime the flesh’s pump to get it “flowing” again. Notice that I referred to counseling the soul. The word soul and the word psychology come from the same root, meaning personality. Your soul is your personality. Psychotherapy is a discipline which uses techniques developed by unregenerate minds to “treat” man’s soul. The Christian who takes his soul to a psychotherapist for service is like the man who takes his car to the florist to be overhauled. Psychotherapy is not God’s plan for ministering to the soul, especially the Christian’s soul, regardless of whether the practitioner is saved or lost. To reiterate, I do not question this counselor’s motive; I question his method. I’ve taken my stand, now let me back it up by discussing how a Biblical counselor can lead our hurting sister into God’s “rest” (Heb. 4:1). God hates self-reliance. This is the sin Adam and Eve committed; they were the first ones to hum the tune, I Did It My Way. That’s what got our friend into the mess she’s in. The instant she was born she began to hum that tune, to live to get her needs satisfied her way. She drew a circle around herself and set up her own private little kingdom, and she declared herself “lord of the ring.” Her goal: to be in control. Her attitude.
Source: What Is Christian Counseling And How Is It Different From Other Counseling? – Christian Families Today