What Makes Christian Counseling Unique?
Christian Counselors have an understanding of the attributes of God, the nature of human beings, the authority of Scripture, the reality of sin, the forgiveness of God, and hope for the future. Counseling and spiritual direction are forms of “renewing the mind,” We need to be taught in the “School of the Lord’s Service.” “For as we advance in the religious life and in faith, our hearts expand and we run the way of God’s commandments with unspeakable sweetness of love.” (The Rule of St. Benedict)
The Christian Counselor seeks to help clients change behavior, attitudes, values, and/or perceptions. We attempt to teach social skills; to give support in time of need; to teach responsibility; to instill insight; to guide as decisions are made; to help clients mobilize inner and environmental resources in times of crisis; to teach problem solving skills; and to increase client competence.
But the Christian Counselor goes farther. He or she seeks to stimulate spiritual growth in clients; to encourage confession of sin and the experience of divine forgiveness; to model Christian standards, attitudes, values and lifestyles; to present the Gospel message, encouraging clients to commit their lives to Jesus Christ; and to stimulate counselees to develop values and live lives that are based on biblical teaching, instead of living in accordance with relativistic, humanistic standards. Scripture and The Rule of St. Benedict and teachings of the church Fathers serve as guides for this kind of spiritual growth.
Our counseling techniques have at least four characteristics: to arouse the belief that help is possible, to correct erroneous beliefs about the world, to develop competencies in social living, and to help clients accept themselves as persons of worth.
Christian Counselors would, with some frequency, pray in the counseling session, read the Scriptures, gently confront with Christian truth, or encourage clients to become involved in a local church.
At the core of all true Christian helping is the influence of the Holy Spirit. His presence and influence make Christian counseling truly unique. It is He who gives the most effective counselor characteristics: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. He is the comforter who teaches “all things,” reminds us of Christ’s sayings, convicts people of sin, and guides us into all truth.
Counseling Solutions at St. Matthew’s Institute is also unique in that our counselors are trained and Licensed Temperament Counselors by the National Christian Counselors Association. Temperament Therapy begins with the assumption that each of us is created as unique individuals. This counseling helps you to discover your own uniqueness and, in that discovery, why you do the things you do. Because Temperament Therapy deals with the inner man, not just symptoms, you will receive real answers to your problems. As a result counseling is more thorough and takes less time. Your counselor will use other theories as well, but the backbone of your counseling will be Temperament Therapy, which has been proven to be highly effective.
Confidentiality is as important to us as it is to you. Confidentiality may be broken if you:
- Report child or elder abuse or neglect
- Report that you intend to hurt yourself or someone else
- File a suit against us
- Give permission to us to discuss your case.
We use various approaches to counseling that are found in Scripture and that Christians have used successfully throughout history. Your Christian counselor might use Biblical precepts, Temperament Theory (Biblical version), inner healing through the use of active imagination, prayer, repentance, confession, and spiritual direction.
“The pastoral counselor teaches the soul the truth about herself by providing a fit context in which the soul can discover herself and learn the truth that is embedded in herself.” “To educate the soul is not merely to teach conceptually or abstractly, but rather practically to lead the soul on the narrow path toward wiser behavioral patterns and a truer grasp of one’s calling.” “The educator sees a balance of moral clarity and kindness, combining strength and encouragement.” (from Clement of Alexandria on Christ the Educator)
Your counselor might suggest literature for you to read and work books to use as well as encourage you to study Scripture, go to a local church, participate in a Bible study, and increase your prayer time.
Possible Dangers of Christian Counseling
We do not know of any dangers in Christian Counseling short of possible misunderstandings of the Bible and traditional Christian theology. Your minister will be happy to explain why he/she is suggesting particular course of action or interpretation of Scripture or theology. Clients are not obliged to agree with or to follow any of their Christian counselor’s suggestions.
Our clients have reported that their presenting problems have been quickly and successfully addressed and helped. Your minister will do his/her very best but the real improvement/healing happens when the client works hard on their problems and brings them to their Creator with a humble and contrite heart.
Obama Care and other changes in the health insurance industry have put a number of restrictions and constraints on services that will be reimbursed. Consequently your counselor, should they file insurance, would not be able to give you the time and quality care that you deserve. Consequently we have opted out of using third party payment or asking for client reimbursement.
Additionally we believe the use of a Universal Medical Data Base jeopardizes confidentiality. Imagine applying for life insurance, employment, or a bank loan and having your private records reveal that you have suffered from depression or that you were once treated for a sexual addiction. Counseling Solutions does not file health insurance claims. Therefore, there is no danger of your counseling records being placed at risk
Did you know that if you file for third party payment you are simultaneously giving your insurance company permission to see all the counseling notes that I have written about our private conversations to be at their disposal to do with them as they wish? Since no insurance claims and reports are filed, you will not have any potentially damaging counseling records following you around in the future. For example, a life insurance company could deny coverage to someone who had told a counselor, psychiatrist or psychologist that they had battled suicidal thoughts.
You are not losing money and are gaining better care by not using third party payment.
Most insurance companies will not pay for marriage counseling. All companies have deductibles and all companies pay very little for counseling services. So you get little financial benefit if any.
Additionally we have a variety of plans that can help you save some money for your counseling. Ask your counselor for details.
Again, welcome to Counseling Solutions at St. Matthew’s Institute. We believe that your experience here will be rich and rewarding.
(Parts of this document were excerpted from, Christian Counseling, a Comprehensive Guide, by Gary R. Collins, PhD and, “Understanding Reconciliation Today,” by Lawrence E. Mick.)