In this third chapter, the authors consider the substance of Christian counseling. They present the apologetic that all counseling (secular to Christian) is evangelistic in nature. “It is now accepted that all counseling is impositional. Every counselor imposes a point of view on those who come for help. All counseling is rhetoric–that is, designed to influence clients…” (p. 18). They distinguish between overt and covert forms of “evangelism” but contend that all counseling makes metaphysical or quasi-religious claims about the nature of persons and the nature of change. They believe that “sharp distinctions between religious and psychological theories are ill-advised” due to the the subjectivity of theories (p. 20).
Since counseling theory is just that, not something provable in a grand sort of way (neither is it completely without objective data however), both christian and secular counseling theories share some commonalities:
1. Observations (subjective facts)
2. Intervening variables (meanings given to those “facts”)
3. Mediating constructs (higher level abstractions and assumptions made from steps 1 and 2)
So, for christian counseling, we have the intervening variable of God. God is. And God advocates, reconciles, heals and directs.
Commentary: I’m surprised by several things in this chapter. It is good to hear their dictum that all counseling is impositional. I remember saying that in my doctoral program and being pooh-poohed for saying such. Biblical counselors have been saying this for years but it is good for others to “catch up.” I think they are basically advocating a presuppositional view of counseling. There are no “brute” facts but observations that are immediately interpreted and supported by interpretations on a higher scale. Unfortunately, this chapter is quite short and not much in the area of substance as it is supposed to be about. Really, it should be entitled, The starting point of Christian counseling. Further, God is active in our day-to-day lives in the roles they list. But so much could be said beyond their few paragraphs. Next they plan to look at the process of christian counseling.
I’m getting the feeling that this is an apologetic for these two authors to stake their claim. But, it doesn’t have that much substance yet.