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An Introduction to Christian Counselling

A correspondence course from Barnabas Training International

BTI 2007

An Introduction To Christian Counselling: Module 1

Table of Contents
How this course works ................................................................................ 1 Introduction .......................................................................................... 1 The Process........................................................................................... 1 Course Structure..................................................................................... 2 What will you learn in this module? ................................................................ 3 What is Counselling?................................................................................... 4 The Uniqueness of Christian Counselling........................................................... 8 Three Counselling Approaches....................................................................... 9 Non-Directive Counselling.......................................................................... 9 Directive Counselling ............................................................................... 9 Holy Spirit Led Counselling .......................................................................10 Skills and qualities of a helpful Christian counsellor............................................12 The Client / Counsellor Relationship ..............................................................14 Frameworks in Counselling ..........................................................................15 Small Frameworks ..................................................................................16 Large Frameworks ..................................................................................16 The Bible in Counselling .............................................................................17 Four Major Secular Approaches to Counselling...................................................19 Behaviourism ........................................................................................19 Psychoanalysis ......................................................................................19 Personalism..........................................................................................19 Transpersonalism ...................................................................................20 Human Needs ..........................................................................................20 Maslows Hierarchy of Needs .....................................................................20 Five Ring Model .....................................................................................21 A Counselling Strategy .............................................................................22 Exploring...........................................................................................22 Clarifying Goals...................................................................................22 Action ..............................................................................................22 The Gerard Egan Skilled Helper Model ............................................................23 Stage 1 Whats going on? .....................................................................23 Stage 2 What solution makes sense for me? ...............................................23 Stage 3 How do I get what I need and want? ..............................................23 The Action Arrow How do I make it happen? ..............................................23 Assignment.............................................................................................24

An Introduction To Christian Counselling: Module 1

How this course works


Introduction
Counselling is a highly skilled and incredibly powerful skillset that does require a large amount of practice and understanding as well as a great deal of self-awareness. In counselling the counsellor has the clients hopes for a better future in their hands and to a large extent they have the clients mental health in their hands. It is not, therefore, something to be taken lightly. In this course we look at some of the basic skills and theory required to become a counsellor. By the very nature of a correspondence course, we are unable to provide any practical exercises but by applying these skills in your everyday life you will be amazed at the extent to which people will respond to you in a positive way. The current position in the world of counselling is that a Level 3 qualification is the minimum standard one must achieve before one can call oneself a counsellor. This course is a foundation level course which, although it carries no formal qualification, will provide you with an excellent basis with which you may undertake a Level 2 qualification. Current accepted practice in counselling is that before qualifying at Level 3 one must necessarily refer to any counselling activities as helping rather than counselling, and the client must be referred to as the helpee.

The Process
The course is split into 12 modules which will be sent to you one at a time on successful completion of the previous module. Should you decide to not complete the course then do let us know and we will send you any remaining modules for your future reference. Each module will contain your learning material, interspersed with opportunities for you to think about the material and how that may apply to you personally. At the end of each module there will be a small assignment for you to complete and send to your tutor. You will be allocated a personal tutor who will be contactable by email and with whom you may correspond on any issues related to the course. Completed assignments will be sent to this tutor for marking. As well as the assignments you must also keep a personal journal. This is to help you with your self-awareness as well as help you to focus on your learning. Your journal must also be sent in to your tutor for marking together with your assignments. Page 1

An Introduction To Christian Counselling: Module 1

Confidentiality is paramount in the world of counselling and we do stress that everything you send to us will be treated with the utmost confidentiality. At the successful completion of the course you will receive a certificate from Barnabas Training International to demonstrate your competence at the Foundation Level of Christian Counselling. If you should have any questions about the course then please feel free to contact us on 01243 554462 or see our online discussion board at www.btctraining.co.uk.

Course Structure
Module 1: Introduction to Counselling and Christian Counselling Module 2: Increasing Awareness of Counselling Issues Module 3: Problems, Labels & the Role of Society Module 4: Helping the Client to Face and Work Through Change Module 5: Increasing our Understanding of Ourselves and Others Module 6: The Counselling Environment and Effective Listening Module 7: Factors Affecting Personality Module 8: Understanding our Minds and Relationships Module 9: Exploring Issues of Stress Module 10: Counselling Guidelines and Case Studies Module 11: Counselling Skills Module 12: Physical and Sexual Abuse Appendix: Biblical notes

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An Introduction To Christian Counselling: Module 1

What will you learn in this module?


In this module you will learn and explore:-

What counselling is What Christian counselling is Some approaches to counselling Skills and qualities of a good counsellor The use of the Bible in counselling Four major secular approaches to counselling Two models of human need The Egan Skilled Helper model of counselling

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An Introduction To Christian Counselling: Module 1

What is Counselling?
Imagine that you are struggling with some personal issues; you don't know what to do or who to turn to for help. A friend tells you about a counsellor they know and encourages you to call the counsellor and arrange a meeting. Your friend is sure that this counsellor will be able to help you. You have made an appointment to see the counsellor, but as the time gets nearer you are feeling less sure about your decision. You've never seen a counsellor before and you are not really sure what to expect.
Think about and answer: What anxieties do you have about the 'counselling'?

What are your hopes and expectations for the 'counselling'?

If somebody were to ask you what you think 'counselling' is, what would you say?

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Counselling could be described as "an activity that aims to help others in any or all aspects of their being, within a caring relationship". This includes:
Listening Giving permission to talk Giving people support Giving people a chance to express themselves Coming alongside people Giving Encouragement Being Friendly Talking through problems Helping people see and explore new options Helping people come to terms with a situation Building confidence Helping people to release, let go of, unravel problems in order to be set free Helping people to improve the quality of life as they see it Giving time and being available Finding an answer without dictating Showing Patience Demonstrating Love Providing Hope Helping people to help themselves Offering Confidentiality Engendering Trust Creating a climate so that the "client" feels accepted, non-defensive and able

to talk freely about himself and his feelings (begins to build a trusting relationship) Helping the client to gain clearer insight into himself and his situation so that he is able to help himself and draw on his own resources.

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One Definition of Counselling Here is one of many possible definitions: "Counselling can be defined as 'that activity which seeks to help people towards constructive change and growth in any or every aspect of their lives. The aim is to achieve this through a caring relationship and within agreed boundaries'" (Association of Christian Counsellors)

What is Christian Counselling?


Imagine again that your friend has told you that the counsellor you are going to see is a Christian who offers 'Christian Counselling'.
Think about and answer: How important is this to you and why?

What are you expecting from this counselling that would be distinctively different from counselling that is not Christian?

Create a definition of Christian Counselling

List some key words (e.g. prayer, bible)

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Here are some of the issues that may have come up in your thoughts about Christian Counselling. Christian Counselling may include the following:A God given ability to help another find God's direction for their life. Helping an individual to recognise, understand and solve his own problems in accordance with the Word of God and by the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit. In Christian counselling, a persons spirit is also involved, as it is concerned with comprehension, conscience and insight. The counselling therefore seeks to help the whole person and not just focus on a problem. The Holy Bible is recognised as the final authority. The Bible is the best psychology book as it is God's Word. The Bible may be used as a handbook in which the solution to all of our problems is revealed (the word Psyche comes from the Greek word for soul Psuch). Invites and makes use of the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit. In this it is directive, based on the Word of God. It depends on God not man. It is the spiritual approach designed to help a person solve a conflict and become adjusted to the spiritual laws designed by God for successful living. It is bringing people to the heart of the Father. Christ centred and not man centred.

A Definition of Christian Counselling Here is one definition: "Christian counselling can be defined as 'that activity which seeks to help people towards constructive change and growth in every aspect of their lives. The aim is to achieve this through a caring relationship and within agreed boundaries, according to Biblical Truths, aims and methods all practised within a framework of Christian commitment, insight and values" (Association of Christian Counsellors)

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The Uniqueness of Christian Counselling


Whether the counsellor is a minister, psychologist, psychiatrist, or social worker, certain principles make Christian counselling unique. First, Christian counselling accepts the Bible as the final standard of authority. Christians are not left to be "tossed back and forth" but can look to a final authority. Relying on the Holy Spirit to guide them through the Bible, Christians are not dependant on their own consciences to direct their behaviour. If conscience agrees with the Word of God, it is valid: if not, conscience is invalid. The Bible not only gives insights into human behaviour but also puts everything into proper perspective. It tells who we are, where we came from, and our nature and purpose. Second, Christian counselling is unique because it depends on not only the human will to be responsible, but also on the enabling indwelling power of the Holy Spirit to conquer human problems. Although all of us are responsible for our own actions, even Christians can choose irresponsibly. Through God's power, however, we no longer need to be slaves to a weak will, our past environment, or social situations. Although problems do not disappear when we accept Christ, we gain new power to deal with them. Third, Christian counselling is unique because although by nature human beings are selfish and tend to ignore or hate God (Rom. 1:28-32), Christians through faith receive the Spirit who gives them victory in overpowering their sinful nature. Fourth, Christian counselling is unique because it effectively deals with the counsellee's past. Many traditional personality theories (particularly psychoanalytic theories) deal exclusively with the past. Because Christians find themselves forgiven for past life events, they can be guilt free (1 John 1:9) and look forward to the future (Phil. 3: 13-14). Even if some past events require insight and specific prayer to remove resentment and bitterness, believers have a secure position in Christ. Fifth, Christian counselling is unique because it is based on God's love. God loves us (1 John 4:10) and as His love flows through us we love others and care for them (Rom. 12: 921). A Christian counsellor feels a spiritual relationship to other Christians and helps them to grow in Christ as they solve their problems. Sixth, Christian counselling is unique because it deals with the whole person. The Christian counsellor is aware that the physical, psychological, and spiritual aspects of human beings are intricately related.

(Taken from Introduction to Psychology and Counselling by Meier, Minirth, Wichern and Ratcliffe)

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Three Counselling Approaches


Some Christian counsellors argue that there are three broad approaches in counselling. These are Non-Directive, Directive and Holy-Spirit Led.

Non Directive

Directive

Holy Spirit

Non-Directive Counselling
Not giving advice / not telling the person what you do Person Centred or Rogerian approach (after Carl Rogers) Helping people see a range of options Allows the troubled person to talk / think problem(s) through / consider options / retain ownership of problem / take responsibility for working through solution

Directive Counselling
Offering advice or direction to the client Can confront & challenge An example of Christian directive approach could be Jay Adams An example of secular directive approach could be Rational Emotive Therapy May be important in life or limb risk situations Can be used to (sensitively) confront sin issues Recognises the final authority of The Word of God, that it is living and active - Jesus could be directive in His style of counselling (e.g. "go and sin no more.") Recognises the centrality of Jesus and not the person

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Holy Spirit Led Counselling


We need to pray and ask God for discernment, guidance and wisdom and ask Jesus to intervene in the situation Remember that we need to operate by the Lord's Power and Love Recognise Him as Wonderful Counsellor This "model" is used in "Wholeness Through Christ" ministry

Summary
As Christians we can be free to use all 3 models as appropriate and be careful not to focus too much on either non-directive or directive. Always remember that the Holy Spirit needs to be our power base. We counsel for The Glory of God, not for the glory of our clients or ourselves.

Think about and answer:

Within the context of counselling, try to define the 3 terms below and some of the potential benefits.
Non - Directive

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Directive

Holy Spirit led

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Skills and qualities of a helpful Christian counsellor


Spend a few moments reflecting on a time when you needed help with a personal problem, and you received help or counselling. Jot down a few brief notes:
What were some of your feelings at the time?

How did your helper / counsellor respond?

What was most helpful?

What was least helpful?

How did you feel afterwards?

Think about and answer: What do you think are the skills and qualities that a helpful counsellor needs? List these below.

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There are many skills and qualities required in counselling and you may have come up with some that are not listed. Here are some that you may have included in your list:A helpful counsellor
presumes nothing about the client checks all things has a Biblical view and understanding of God and man has an authentic relationship with Jesus Christ, walking and listening to God is in authentic fellowship with other Christians has good self-awareness knows their own limitations and when and how to refer on has good listening and communication skills has good relationship skills compassion, sensitivity, gentleness has patience knows where their security and significance really is is non-judgemental, accepts and respects people does not give advice inappropriately or too quickly has empathy (in contrast to sympathy) is self-organised, disciplined, prepared has a teachable and servant heart has the ability to handle shocking subjects in a way that will not detrimentally affect the counsellor/client relationship has good confrontation/challenging skills is able to sensitively pray with the client when appropriate has honesty/integrity recognises the clients right to choose to be counselled. It is a privilege to counsel not a right has a practical understanding and application of confidentiality is accountable with appropriate Supervision

The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded than the shouts of a ruler of fools Ecclesiastes 9:17 Page 13

An Introduction To Christian Counselling: Module 1

The Client / Counsellor Relationship


The counsellor becomes the clients crutches for a time, offering stability and aiding mobility at a time of great need. We are there to support, to listen and to lead. As such we must take care not to suddenly kick away any pre-existing crutches that the client comes with until new crutches are properly in place. Also we must take care not to remain as crutches. If we do for too long then the client will become over dependent on us and it will be painful when the time comes to finish counselling. We must not set ourselves up as some sort of guru figure. Counselling is about letting go after bringing people to the heart of Father God. We must take care that we dont attempt to hang on to our successes or become proud. But also be aware that we will counsel some clients for whom there is no success. We must, therefore, check our motives for counselling. If we are doing this to satisfy our own needs for security or significance or to boost our own ego we will have problems. We need to be praying about this. Finally, always remember that people have to get to know Father God for themselves. They need their own personal relationship with Jesus.
Think about and answer: How do you think you would manage this if and when you become a counsellor? Of what personal issues might you need to be careful?

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Frameworks in Counselling
An effective counsellor needs a good understanding of self and others so that they are able to recognise their strengths and weaknesses. Organisations have structures and frameworks. Some are tightly structured with: rules/regulations
rigid and precise operating methods rigid and inflexible lines of communication inflexible disciplinary procedures

Other organisations are less heavily structured leaving more space for:
individual expression experimentation/innovation development learning (including from mistakes) open communication self-discipline

Others operate somewhere along this spectrum. As individuals we operate from within similar types of framework or structure.
Think about and answer: How structured are you in your approach to life? What does your framework look like?

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Small Frameworks
The dangers of small frameworks include:A world of negatives that can be projected onto other people WARNING! The small framework is liable to crack or break! Can it cope with the stresses and strains of the client? BLOCKED! What are our no-go areas? What has gone on there? BOUND! What is binding us? What are our prejudices?

Large Frameworks
A large framework is still a framework. We all need boundaries Easier to work with much more flexibility and freedom of movement Undefended/Unprotected counsellors need to make themselves vulnerable to some degree; they need to be prepared for being hurt Calvary love reaches out unconditionally We need the full protection of the spiritual armour of God not our own defensive mechanisms Accessible counsellors need to be accessible people but that does not mean that they are on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year! They need to manage their time, plan it, and make clear appointments. The only real emergency is a life or limb situation and even then counsellors need to be aware of emotional blackmail. Care! Do not be so accessible to others that you become inaccessible to your own family and God. People with problems can put extreme pressure on counsellors. In essence they are very self-centred. A pre-occupation with their problems will sometimes result in a (not usually deliberate) attempt to take control of the counsellor. They wont be aware of what is happening but we need to be and need to ensure that we maintain control. God can and does help people restructure their frameworks as necessary and as He is invited to do so.

So it is important to understand ourselves more and to expand our frameworks as necessary.

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The Bible in Counselling


All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness - 2 Tim 3:16
Think about and answer: What does the Bible mean to you in your every day life?

What special significance does the Bible have for you as a 'counsellor'?

How might you use the Bible in a counselling situation?

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As Christians, we believe in the supremacy of scriptural authority. We also believe in the sufficiency of scripture. Not everything is recorded in the Bible (John 16:12, 21:25), Acts 1:1) but this does not mean that Scripture is insufficient for addressing all of mans problems. Gods view of scripture is shown in the following passages: 2 Timothy 3:16-17, Psalm 119 (all of it but especially vs 11, 89, 105, 130 & 133).
Think about and answer: From the verses listed above write down the reasons why the Bible could be useful in a counselling context.

What are 2 opposite extreme approaches to using the Bible in pastoral care and counselling and what are the dangers of these?

The Bible is alive, it speaks to me, it has feet, it runs after me, it has hands, it lays hold of me. - Martin Luther

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Four Major Secular Approaches to Counselling


Behaviourism Psychoanalysis Personalism (Humanistic and Existential approaches) Transpersonalism

Here is a brief outline of these 4 approaches.

Behaviourism
The philosophical theory of behaviourism - or, to give it its full title, logical behaviourism is a theory developed by James B. Watson concerned with studying and measuring behaviours that are observable. Behaviourism holds that being in a particular mental state, such as being happy, is the same as being in a physical state. In other words, if I say, "I am happy", this may be translated into a description of my physical state - increased heart rate, smiling, etc. The behaviourist would argue that if these outward signs were not present then the person is not really happy. Behaviourists stress the role of the environment as a fundamental shaper of behaviour and attempt to modify an individuals behaviour rather than their internal state.

Psychoanalysis
Psychoanalysis is a family of psychological theories and methods based originally on the work of Sigmund Freud. It is a system of viewing the individual as the product of unconscious forces and is intended to help clients become aware of long-repressed feelings and issues by using such techniques as free association and the interpretation of dreams. The diagnosis and treatment of mental disorder is premised on the Freudian theory that such disorders are caused by repression of desires that the afflicted person may have consciously rejected but that nevertheless persist strongly in his subconscious.

Personalism
This began in the 1940s and says that the one thing we know about humans is that they are free, they are autonomous and they are existing persons before anything else. Carl Rogers and Fritz Perls were two well-known proponents of personalism, Page 19

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though they developed quite different forms of therapy. Rogers believed that people were like plants: give them the right type of conditions and they will blossom. The counsellor qualities that facilitate growth are empathy, unconditional positive regard, and congruence or transparency. Rogers work uses a view of human understanding which claims that each persons understanding of the world is unique. Therefore, we have to try to stand where the client is standing in order for them to find their way forward. This quality is empathic understanding. Our task is to facilitate growth not to try to make others in our own image by control and direction. Rogers believed that we are most human in our freedom which ought to be expressed in our feeling and emotional lives. In order for persons to heal, this feeling aspect has to be allowed to reveal itself. Change will naturally occur because feelings, when unblocked and accepted can move on. Rogers view of humankind contradicts Biblical teaching.

Transpersonalism
Transpersonal psychology is a school of psychology that studies the spiritual dimensions of humanity. It looks at such issues as peak experiences, mystical experiences and the possibility of development beyond traditional egoboundaries. Transpersonal psychology is concerned with the study of humanitys highest potential, and with the recognition of spiritual, and transcendent states of consciousness. Transpersonal psychology takes the view that individuals have a deeper Self that lies behind their roles, masks, and beliefs and that the individualised persona is only one manifestation of this deeper Self.

Human Needs
Maslows Hierarchy of Needs
Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs is a theory proposed by Abraham Maslow in his 1945 paper A Theory of Human Motivation. Maslow studied people such as Albert Einstein and Eleanor Roosevelt, and the healthiest one percent of the college student population in order to arrive at his conclusions. Page 20

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The hierarchy is depicted as a pyramid consisting of five levels: the four lower levels are grouped together and are associated with physiological needs, while the top level is associated with psychological needs. Deficiency needs must be met first. Once these are met personal growth needs can be met. The higher needs in this hierarchy only come into focus when the lower needs in the pyramid are satisfied.
Think about and answer: What is self actualisation? How does this contradict biblical teaching?

Five Ring Model


This model is a Biblical model devised by Selwyn Hughes. Although there are some similarities there are some crucial differences. In the five ring model the Spiritual needs are central and comprised of need for security, self-worth and significance. These can only be met by God through relationship in Jesus Christ. The role of the counsellor here, therefore, is to help the client to move from self-centredness to Christ-centredness. Oswald Chambers suggests that what people need is a greater experience of God Actualisation in their lives not self-realisation which is the nature of sin effectively declaring I am my own God. The Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
2 Corinthians 3:17 18

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Think about and answer: How might we use the Five Ring model in a counselling situation?

A Counselling Strategy
One approach to counselling is to ensure the following three elements are covered in the course of the relationship.

Exploring
Show attention Listening Empathy Acceptance Summarise and reflect

Clarifying Goals
Further empathy Challenging Collate information Share understanding Keep clear roles Set goals

Action
Creative thinking Problem solving Make decisions with client Use knowledge to act effectively Evaluate Presume Nothing - Check all things!

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The Gerard Egan Skilled Helper Model


Gerard Egan describes another model in his book The Skilled Helper. It is a 3-stage approach to helping people.

Stage 1 Whats going on?


This stage is about assessing, identifying and exploring problems and opportunities. It is about helping the client to get the most out of the helping process. Skills required here are: active listening, respect, genuineness, empathic highlights, empowerment, challenging, clarifying and summarising.

Stage 2 What solution makes sense for me?


This stage is about helping the client to identify, choose and shape goals. It is about exploring possibilities for a better future; about moving from possibilities to choices. In this stage we help the client to set effective goals and to commit to them. Skills required here are: probing, exploring, support, encouragement, problem management.

Stage 3 How do I get what I need and want?


This stage is about helping the client with strategy and planning in order to identify and choose realistic courses of action for achieving goals. It is about identifying which courses of action best fit the clients probability of achievement and helping the client to formulate a step-by-step process to accomplish the chosen goal. It is also about ongoing evaluation and revision of this plan. Skills required here are: probing, prompting, challenging, clarifying, supporting, reality testing.

The Action Arrow How do I make it happen?


This is about helping the client to accomplish the goals and results producing action. It is helping them with tactics, adapting the plan, contingency plans and action-focussed self-contracts and agreements. Skills required here are: support and challenge, appraisal, endings. Page 23

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Assignment
In approximately 300 words describe yourself as someone very close to you would describe you. Email this description to your personal tutor.

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