Running head: BIBLICAL VERSUS MAINSTREAM COUNSELING TERMINOLOGY Biblical Versus Mainstream Counseling Terminology Patricia Daugherty Liberty University Abstract In the counseling profession today, there is quite a bit of controversy and discussion about Christian counseling compared to conventional counseling. As the terminology of both the Bible and mainstream counseling are analyzed, distinct similarities are evident. This analysis of key Biblical and contemporary counseling terminology will show examples of basic terms, their meaning, and usage in both settings.
One of the results revealed during this research was that many counseling terms are used in conventional counseling have similar meanings in the Bible. This study shows that certain words that are used in the field of counseling today are indirectly built upon Biblical principles. Biblical Versus Mainstream Counseling Terminology Introduction There are many opinions and much debate concerning the use of the Bible and Scriptures in the counseling setting. Many in the secular community have questioned the use and the legitimacy of the results of counseling sessions that are based wholly on a religious belief system.
Many feel that since counseling that revolves around Biblical beliefs is and not based on scientific experiments and results is it not a valid form of diagnosis and treatment. Based on the research of Howard, etal (2005), Psychology is the result of man-made theories and scientific studies and has no foundation built upon religious beliefs. Psychology is known as the study of the mind and is an academic discipline that bases its theories on the scientific method and the study of human behaviors.
Psychology attempts to understand the role of a person’s mental functioning and their social behaviors all the while trying to determine any underlying physiological issues. Psychologists study such things as personality, emotion, behavior and interpersonal relationships, and the unconscious mind (Ganje-Fling & McCarthy, 1991). They base their diagnoses on previously studied mental disorders and develop treatment plans based on those diagnoses. There is an obvious difference between the psychological direction of counseling the Biblical direction of counseling.
Psychology deals mostly with the study of theories and concepts that have been developed by scientists as opposed to the Bible’s study being focused on God and his direction of how we should live our lives. God has laid out his guide for us to follow in the Bible and Christian counselors work to help their client’s use His guide to work through their troubles. Both of these views have seemed to be on opposite ends of the spectrum for as long as counseling has been in existence.
Over the past several years, there has been a surge to try and integrate these two views into one view that will be more beneficial for the client as well as the counselor. The problem with this idea is that there has been so much debate between the professionals in each of these over the years that they do not want to admit to a common ground between the two. Clinton & Ohlschlager (2002) discuss the importance of the use of the Bible in contemporary counseling sessions and the use of contemporary counseling terminology and techniques in Christian counseling.
They suggest a more liberal approach to the counseling session one in which the Bible is used to enrich the counseling session and make it more rewarding for everyone. The research that was completed in this analysis was done to demonstrate how important the role the Bible and its terminology can be to contemporary counseling. The research was conducted on several terms that were commonly used in both the Bible and the counseling profession. It was determined that were many terms used in counseling today that are also mentioned in various verses in both the Old and New Testament.
The research showed that many of these terms have the same meaning in both disciplines and some have totally different meanings which was the main purposes of this paper. The reader will be presented with the meaning of the terms in both the Bible and the counseling profession, they will be presented with examples of their use in both the Old and New Testament, and how their usage compares under both disciplines. It will be important that the reader realizes that the use of Biblical terms in contemporary counseling can only work to increase the positive outcome of counseling and make the experience more enlightening for all involved.
Analysis Counselor/Counsel According to Holman’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary (2003), a counselor is someone who will analyze a situation and then give advice to the people involved and help direct them toward the appropriate decision or course of action. In the King James Version of the Bible, there are 14 references to the word counselor, 11 of which are located in the Old Testament and three of which are located in the New Testament. The term counselor can also be understood to mean someone who acts as a consultant not only to one person but to a group of people as well.
An example of this can be found in the Old Testament in 1 Kings 12:6-7, 6 “And, King Rehoboam consulted with the old men, that stood before Solomon his father while he yet lived, and said, How do ye advise that I may answer this people? 7 And they spake unto him, saying, If thou wilt be servant unto this people this day, and wilt serve them, and answer them, and speak good words to them, then they will be thy servants for ever. ” These Scriptures show that even in the Bible a counselor was sought out to give advice and to help people make important decisions in their life.
The words that were spoken to King Rehoboam demonstrate some of the guiding principles in counseling today. He was advised to speak kindly to his people and answer their questions, and the result would be that they would serve him. Counselors should not expect their clients to serve them, but they should follow this same advice when talking with their clients. In the Bible, there are many persons who were considered to be counselors including Joseph of Arimatheae. In Mark 15:43, “Joseph of Arimathaea, an honourable counselor, which also waited for the kingdom of God, came, and ent in bodily unto Pilate, and craved the body of Jesus”. This shows a good example that many people in the Bible was perceived as counselors because of their ability to give advice and help others. There are many additional instances in both the Old and New Testament that show examples of the use and influence of counselors. There are even instances where God is considered to be a counselor. In Psalms 16:7, “I will bless the LORD, who hath given me counsel: my reins also instruct me in the night seasons”.
Discussion The use of counselors and the act of counseling is very prevalent in the Bible and in the examples demonstrated above. One of the key aspects of counseling is the fact that it requires the counselor to be a good listener. As evident in both the Bible as well as the mainstream counseling setting, in order to be an effective counselor you must be an effective listener. Not only is it important to listener to what the client is saying but the counselor must also be able to “hear” what the client is saying.
The examples that have been presented show that the role of the counselor has always, in one way or another, been a part of our existence. In the contemporary counseling setting, a counselor is someone who gives advice or counsels another person concerning educational, personal, or professional issues (McMinn, 1996). The Biblical examples and the definition presented by McMinn show that there is a correlation between the meaning of counselor in both disciplines. The research presented shows that in the Bible as well as in mainstream counseling the term counselor can be interchangeable.
In, Belaire, Young, & Elder’s (2005) article they discuss the importance of the inclusion of the use of Scripture within the counseling setting, but they also warn that not all Scriptures are appropriate for use in the counseling session. They go on to discuss the use of the Bible as a guide for the contemporary counselor in structuring their sessions to show the client that the Bible can be used as a guide and a reference that can be used in times of trouble. Help/Helper
The King James Version of the Bible uses the word help in two technical but different ways. First, help is used to demonstrate equipment such as a devise used to secure a ship. As demonstrated in Acts 27:17, “Which when they had taken up, they used helps, undergirding the ship; and, fearing lest they should fail into the quicksands, strake sail, and so were driven”. Modern translations of the term “help” as seen in Acts are understood to mean such things as ropes, cables, etc. The second use of the word help is in the form of the gift of ministry.
An example of this is shown in 1 Corinthians 12:28, “And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues”. In Corinthians, “help” is understood to mean the ability of someone to offer assistance to others. God is also seen as the ultimate “help” to people who lack strength and live in poverty. According to Strong’s Exhaustive concordance of the Bible, there are 115 instances where the term help appears in the Old Testament and ten instances where it occurs in the New Testament.
In many of the occurrences, help has a similar mean as the term “counsel” but for the purposes of the research presented here it means to contribute to the fulfillment of a need. Discussion In the counseling environment, the term is most recognizable when it is used as the “helping relationship” in terms as of someone being in the “helping profession” (McMinn, 1996). What is meant by the term “helping”? Basically, it is used in the fields of counseling and guidance. It often requires the person to work in difficult situations and help others make difficult choices.
When working with clients, there are different steps that need to be addressed in order to reach the desired outcome. First, the counselor needs to determine what is actually going on with the client. It is important to help the client realize what the key issues are that they need to change. Second, the counselor needs to talk with the client help them determine what solutions will work best for them. Third, the counselor needs to work with the client to help them set goals to accomplish the task ecessary to take care of their problems (Monroe, & Schwab, 2009). In order to be an effective counselor, it is very important to be able to help your clients. Helping is a skill that is taught in every counseling training program. However, it is possible for a counselor to become too caught up in the techniques that the actually lose the true essence of what helping means. There some things that can be done to help keep the counselor from becoming too technical. First, the counselor can practice what is called active listening.
The counselor can listen with a purpose and be able to respond in a way that their clients are aware that they are being heard and understood. Second, the counselor can fine tune their reflective skills. Basically, reflective skills allow the counselor the ability to be able to repeat what the client has told them but only using their own words. Finally, an effective counselor must possess valuable probing skills (Oakes, & Raphel, 2008). Many times a client is unwilling to really let the counselor know everything is going on with them at first.
So in these instances, it is important for the counselor to be able to word their questions in nonintrusive ways so that they are able to get the client to reveal more to them. The research has shown that there is a comparison between the meaning of the term help in the Bible and in contemporary counseling. In both disciplines, it is evident that the primary goal of helping is to basically give assistance to those that are in need. It is important to realize that people may need this help in many different ways. Healing
Healing is a term that is used in various settings such as the medical field, counseling, and in the Bible as well. In its basic meaning, it means to restore someone’s health or to restore them to spiritual wholeness. Healing is probably one of the most used terms in all of the afore mentioned disciplines because all three are concentrated in curing either the mind, body, or spirit. There were 14 references to healing found in the King James Version of the Bible with the majority of them being in the New Testament.
Nearly one-fifth of the Gospels of the New Testament show examples of Jesus’ miracles of physical and mental healing. God, through his work, provides His people with healing of physical ailments, emotional problems, and spiritual issues. Depending on which Scriptures are being references, healing can take on different meanings. Those that are referenced in the Old Testament can result in a different interpretation than those of the New Testament partially due to Jesus’ influence through that part of the Bible.
There term healing occurs 14 times in the King James Version of the Bible, with five occurrences in the Old Testament and nine occurrences in the New Testament. The essence of healing can be seen in the Old Testament in Jeremiah 14:19, “Have You utterly rejected Judah? Has Your soul loathed Zion? Why have You stricken us so that there is no healing for us? We looked for peace, but there was no good; And for the time of healing, and there was trouble”. The Bible not only tells of people’s spiritual status but it is also concerned about their physical condition as well.
As far as the New Testament is concerned a good example of healing can be seen in Matthew 4:23, “And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among people”. The Gospels record 14 distinct instances of physical and mental healing. Jesus commissioned His disciples to continue His basic ministry, including healing. Discussion It is evident through the examples demonstrated above that the Bible is a priceless tool for not only the Christian counselor but the contemporary counselor as well.
The Bible shows examples of instances of healing not only physical, but emotional and spiritual as well. The term psychosomatic is a term that means “soul and body”, and refers to the close relationship between the body and the spirit. If something is affecting the soul they it is affecting the body as well. The health of a person’s soul may be a direct indication of the health of the body. In the Bible, John wished for his friend Gaius to “prosper in every way and be in good health, just as your soul prospers”.
This is in direct correlation to the meaning of psychosomatic in that “a person is a unity; body and soul cannot be separated” (Clinton, & Ohlschlager, 2002). Christian believe in healing through faith, but trying to decide what techniques are scriptural, proper, and psychologically helpful confuses the believer. Jesus used different methods in His healing ministry which included calling upon the faith of the person or bystanders to be healed, toughing the sick person, praying, assuring forgiveness of sin, uttering commands, and using physical media.
As is now with contemporary counseling, the faith of the individual was an important factor in the healing process. Speaking to the woman who has been hemorrhaging, Jesus said, “Your faith has made you well”, Mark 5:34. As with the Biblical meaning of the word healing, the contemporary counseling discipline also operates on the premise that faith plays a big factor in if counseling will work and how quickly the client experiences healing. It is important for the counselor to reiterate to their client that they have to have faith not only in themselves but in the therapeutic process as well if they are going to experience results.
The research shows that in both disciplines the term healing has much the same meaning and is used in similar ways. Conclusion During this analysis, there were many additional terms that were evident that could have been included such as advise, advocate, power, and trust. There are many additional Scriptures that are in the Bible that offer countless more examples of the terms presented in this research as well as other counseling terms. There has been countless research presented in journals and books that go deeper into the comparison of Biblical and counseling terminology.
The main focus of this paper was to demonstrate the importance of the parallels of terminology in both settings. The research has shown that there is a distinct parallel between the terminologies used in counseling with the same terminology used in the Bible. When the client is working one on one with a Christian counselor, this becomes more evident. The use of the Biblical meanings used within the contemporary counseling setting give both the counselor as well as the client a more enriching experience.
During the research and analysis of this terminology there some good points and concerns and that became evident. One positive thing that was discovered was that the use Biblical terminology has become a very useful benefit in the contemporary counseling environment. Belaire, Young, & Elder (2005) state that as long as the counselor uses their best judgment, are careful not to offend their clients, and follow good ethical guidelines the use of Scriptures during the counseling sessions can result in more positive outcomes.
Over the past several years, the use of religious principles and Scripture has become more common in the counseling setting especially when the counselor branches out to serve a more diverse population (Belaire, Young, & Elder, 2005). One possible negative that was discovered during this research is the possibility of offending the client if they were not open to the discussion or the use of religious principles during the counseling sessions. The counselor needs to be sensitive to the feelings, values, and beliefs of their clients before delving into discusses regarding religious beliefs and principles.
With today’s large diverse population, counselors are finding that they are serving many different people who have belief systems that vary greatly from their own. The Bible states a definite set of morals and a distinct belief system and does not sanction any deviation from this. The counselor must remain diligent in their effort to live a Christ-like life but also they need to make sure they do not push their beliefs onto their clients if the client is not ready.
The research that has been completed for this paper has enlightened my understanding on the multiple uses and meanings of the terminology that is used comparatively in the Bible as well as in the counseling setting. Both settings deal with the restoration of the person, the Bible with the restoration of the spirit and counseling with the restoration of the mind, body, and spirit. I feel that with that with the proper integration, regardless of the client’s belief system, Biblical concepts and morals can have a definite impact on the counseling sessions.
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