What Flavor is Your Counseling? Most of us are combos, but who best (more than the others) reflects your perspective?

The Larry Crabb/Deceitful Heart Emphasis
6% (1 vote)
The Jay Adams/Nouthetic Perspective
67% (12 votes)
The James Dobson/Ecclectic Approach
0% (0 votes)
The Tim LaHaye/Temperament theory
0% (0 votes)
Gary Collins Christian psychology
0% (0 votes)
William Backus Truth Therapy
0% (0 votes)
Joel Robertson/Brain Chemistry
0% (0 votes)
Birth Order
6% (1 vote)
Theories that heavily weigh demonic influence
0% (0 votes)
Theories that give a lot of weight to genetics and the brain
0% (0 votes)
I am influenced significantly by 2-6 of the above
6% (1 vote)
I am influenced significantly by most of the above
0% (0 votes)
I am influenced significantly by all or all minus one of the above
0% (0 votes)
None of the above characterize a good portion of my philosophy
17% (3 votes)
Total votes: 18
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There are 13 Comments

Ed Vasicek's picture

I am influenced a lot by Crabb, Backus, Dobson, and theories that place a high premium on genes and brain chemistry, with a touch of the demonic.

How about you?

I guess my base of operation is Larry Crabb's emphasis on the deceitful heart.

"The Midrash Detective"

Jamie Hart's picture

I would have to choose Jay Adams Nouthetic approach, though I lean more toward Paul Tripp/CCEF style. More focus on heart issues driving our actions with a heavy dose of the sufficiency of Scripture.

Daniel's picture

Ed, that sounds like a soup ingredient label.

Just curious, has focusing on genes and brain chemistry 'solved' a lot? I remember in college we had a pastor come in who had dealt severely with depression to the point where he was put on some sort of medication that did something with brain stuff. That allowed him to think clearly, and once he dealt with other issues he was able to wean himself off of the drug.

I wholeheartedly agree on the touch of demonic. We don't hear too much of this since we are for the most part on here Americans, but I am finding more and more people that are affected by it, my wife for one. Luckily we got great counseling and were able to deal with it appropriately. Since then my wife has had the opportunity to help a number of people with similar situations.

I am not sure where I am on any spectrum. I know that I place a lot on dealing with people's sin, but am not opposed to looking into alternatives to help if need be. And obviously not every thing can be traced back to a particular sin(s), although probably a lot can. Then again, I don't really do any counseling so I could change.

Ed Vasicek's picture

Daniel wrote:
Ed, that sounds like a soup ingredient label.

Just curious, has focusing on genes and brain chemistry 'solved' a lot?

I think so. It at least lets us know where to admit defeat and where to concentrate. For example, some people are bi-polar because of brain chemistry issues, and it is an inherited condition. To get down on them for their behavior will do little good. They need medication. Some schizophrenics would be dangerous if not for medicines.

It is sort of like when I go to the barbershop with my thinning hair. I tell my barber, "You did a good job, considering what you had to work with." Genetics and brain stuff help us set realistic boundaries (what we have to work with).

"The Midrash Detective"

Daniel's picture

Obviously each case is different, but would you (if you are able to write prescriptions) write a prescription as well as put some emphasis on their need to take responsibility. Like a 80/20 or something like that? Or would you first deal with the physical and then the spiritual?

But if you are unable to write prescriptions, how would you go about first diagnosing a physical condition (I am assuming prescription writing and your ability to diagnose a problem go hand-in-hand), and then getting a prescription written?

And also, how would you separate what was done as a result of a physical condition vs what was done knowingly? And I suppose also, how do you deal with family members who may want to blame everything on them rather than allowing for some leniency due to their condition?

I am just curious because I so rarely hear of people dealing with physical issues.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

I voted for 2-6 of above.
Adams has been helpful. And though the Nouthetic folks tend to view him as anathema, I've found that much rang true in Crabb as well.
I do believe strongly that most of the people I have opportunity help need nothing more than good teaching from Scripture supplemented by the wisdom of experience (so I've borrowed a lot from others for the latter). I've personally found that biblical principle and wise application have been of the most help to me as well.
One area that continues to intrigue me is the matter of how the physical organ of the brain (and the rest of the physiological stuff) relates to the spiritual aspects of our being. There has been some work on that subject from the biblical counseling movement perspective and I'm very interested in reading it. Just haven't gotten to it yet.
(To illustrate what I mean, when a guy falls off a ladder, hits his head and experiences dramatic personality changes--along with other evidence of brain damage--to what extent are his new habits and ways of thinking "spiritual"? And if you can get "spiritually" messed up by hitting your head, who's to say you can't by some subtler form of damage?).
The realm of psychology is one of the battlegrounds that expose the fact that people who take the Bible seriously (fundamentalists, conservative evangelicals) have still not figured out what to do with science--where it fits in. Personally, I continue to find it a difficult problem.

Ed Vasicek's picture

Daniel wrote:
Obviously each case is different, but would you (if you are able to write prescriptions) write a prescription as well as put some emphasis on their need to take responsibility. Like a 80/20 or something like that? Or would you first deal with the physical and then the spiritual?

But if you are unable to write prescriptions, how would you go about first diagnosing a physical condition (I am assuming prescription writing and your ability to diagnose a problem go hand-in-hand), and then getting a prescription written?

And also, how would you separate what was done as a result of a physical condition vs what was done knowingly? And I suppose also, how do you deal with family members who may want to blame everything on them rather than allowing for some leniency due to their condition?

I am just curious because I so rarely hear of people dealing with physical issues.

I guess I'll say 50/50 just as a starting point.

Depends who you are dealing with and what you are dealing with. Some people feel TOO responsible for that which is out of their hands. I have had a number of dealings with bi-polar situations. When I pastored in Chicago (in the city), a lot more of those situations involved the need to take responsibility. With more educated and professional people, many of them are fairly well disciplined to become professionals in the first place. Some of these people tend to put too much responsibility on themselves. I have often found this the case with bipolar and depression.

When it comes to marriage counseling, dealing with the deceitful heart syndrome becomes more crucial. Sin is a lot more than behavior, it is involved in our very thought processes and the way we interpret life. Marriage brings this out. So is this a responsibility issue? Yes, but it is more a matter of personal espionage. In a sense, it is a deep responsibility issue.

Addictions is particulary tricky. Addictive behaviors are sinful behaviors for which we are responsible, but they go beyond simple sin. I try to refer those situations. Like Aaron, I do not have all the answers.

Sometimes counseling involves helping people to cope with that which they cannot change in themselves or others. We are not good at advertising that some problems have no solutions (at least in this life). The hard part, I suppose, is to distinguish reality from what appears to be reality. Once we get down to reality, we can they try to work with that reality. Idealism not in touch with the realities of human nature and modern life can sometimes prevent this.

I do think most issues are the result of sin. Sometimes that sin is buried deeply and involves sabotage (people are not sincere in wanting change with their whole hearts, but they feign an effort so that they do not feel as guilty about their sin). But not always; there is much about these human chemistry sets called 'us" that we do not understand.

"The Midrash Detective"

rogercarlson's picture

I tend to be Nouthetic but I am modified in my positions. I am not anti-medication but mostly anit meds. I have counseled several that were on medication and had they not been there would have been know way to break through. I don't find Dobson's stuff all that useful in the real world counseling issues. His understanding of the Scriptures is just too superficial - on the hard science stuff I have benefited from.

I appreciate and agree with most of what Ed V has to say on these issues here. Good thread Brother!

Roger Carlson, Pastor
Berean Baptist Church

Bob T.'s picture

The Biblical basis for counseling are all the scriptures properly interpreted and applied plus that which is objective truth from both Psychiatry and Psychology plus practical experience and observation.

Nouthetic counseling has a false basis for its counseling world view philosophy and approach to scripture. However, some within that sphere have put out helpful material on specific problems such as marital counseling.

Approximately 1.1% of the adult population have physiologically based mental problems which can only be handled by the Psychiatrist. These require medication to alleviate symptoms.

Ed Vasicek's picture

I am amazed at how "uniform" SI participants seem to be on this poll. It sounds like Nouthetic Counseling is next in line immediately after the fundamentals. I would have never guessed how heavily-weighted participants seem to be in that direction.

"The Midrash Detective"

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

The whole biblical counseling movement has broadened out a good bit now. That is, there are lots of "not quite nouthetic" variations out there and also implementations of that general model that are far better than others.
< rant >
For example, there's a "heart" emphasis among some that seems to collapse into fog and mumbo jumbo frequently (or maybe I'm just not smart enough to know what in the world they mean... but then, are counselees smart enough?).
And one teacher I know emphasizes the general need for greater devotion to Christ so much, he pretty much rejects any effort to deal with a paricular problem... and certianly never "the problem" the counselee sought you out for help with.
I think that's way off for two reasons:
1) It really makes the offer of counseling somewhat disingenuous. If you don't plan to address the problems people are coming to you about, drop the term "counseling" completely.
2) It overlooks the fact that though everyone needs to grow in devotion to Christ, that general need has particular components. So helping someone toward Christlikeness is not at odds in the least with helping them solve a particular problem in a relationship, personal habit, crisis, etc.

I guess I get pretty irritated with the theoreticians at times. It is not helpful to people to tell them their desire to solve problem A is in itself an "idol of the heart" and they should just forget about it and focus on an oddly abstracted idea of devotion to Christ. < /rant >

Ed Vasicek's picture

To be honest, when people have really bad problems as Christians, a lot of times no kind of counseling helps. That is the untold legacy of both secular and Christian counseling.

Someone has an issue, and popular culture says, "You need counseling." The implication is that counseling has a magic wand.

If I think of the marriages I have seen break up, the addictions that are never defeated, the wayward children than continue their wayward course -- I wonder if most of the problems that are actually solved are solved apart from counseling.

Not that it never helps -- it can and does. But probably as often as not (once you get into serious and deep situations), it does little good.

"The Midrash Detective"

Jamie Hart's picture

Ed Vasicek wrote:
To be honest, when people have really bad problems as Christians, a lot of times no kind of counseling helps. That is the untold legacy of both secular and Christian counseling.

Someone has an issue, and popular culture says, "You need counseling." The implication is that counseling has a magic wand.

If I think of the marriages I have seen break up, the addictions that are never defeated, the wayward children than continue their wayward course -- I wonder if most of the problems that are actually solved are solved apart from counseling.

Not that it never helps -- it can and does. But probably as often as not (once you get into serious and deep situations), it does little good.


I read an interesting article on a great counseling blog in regards to this...
Check out http://www.competentcounseling.com/2009/03/10/having-the-right-perspecti... Counseling Solutions .