Tag Archives: models of counseling

Things you won’t hear often in graduate counseling programs

In my last post I made mention of Dr. Langberg’s presentations last Monday night. One of her talks was entitled, “Ten Things About Counseling You Don’t Usually Hear in Graduate School.” At some point we may be able to upload video of that talk but just to whet your appetite, here are a couple of her 10 items,

  • Counseling is not nice. Most people get into the counseling business because they want to help people and because others have indicated that they have a gift for listening. Without being negative about the work of counseling, Dr. Langberg reminded us that to counsel with others is to invite garbage into your life. People don’t come to counseling to talk about the good things…
  • Similarly, the stuff of counseling is contagious; it will change you.
  • Counseling will expose you. It will expose your limits of patience, rationality, and love. It will expose your baser reasons for being a counselor.
  • Christian counseling is doing God’s work. It is not our work.
  • Christian counseling is doing God’s work for him (not for ourselves or others).

Just a taste. But she concluded with this call,

Listen acutely. Study avidly. Be the Word.


Filed under Christianity, counseling, counseling skills, Diane Langberg

Improving Case Conceptualization?

For my counselor readers: What books or other helps have you encountered that improved your ability to conceptualize cases?

When we teach counseling skills we do the following (we do more than this but this is the general trajectory):

  1. Build basic helping/counseling skills (if you can’t connect with a person and build a trusting relationship, any knowledge you might have will be useless!)
  2. Expose students to a wide variety of problems (so they can understand and describe common problems in living or common pathologies–even if they are not sure of the causes of these problems)
  3. Explore human growth and development from a descriptive and biblical viewpoint (this at the same time as #2 so that they learn about common problems  and sufferings as well as what healthy and Godward lives look like in a fallen world)
  4. Teach case conceptualization (marrying client information (e.g., background info, presenting problems, attempts to solve the problems, etc.) with theoretical understanding of the person/problem/desired outcome.
  5. Build intervention repertoire during fieldwork.

#4 is the hardest, especially in a generalist program that doesn’t spend a great deal of time on theoretical models (we teach models as part of every course and our model of Christian psychology (biblical anthropology along with process oriented model) isn’t as defined as the old models (e.g., Rogers, Freud, etc.).

If you were teaching counseling to practicum students who needed help with conceptualizing cases, what resources would you turn to?


Filed under biblical counseling, christian counseling, christian psychology, counseling, counseling science, counseling skills, Psychology, teaching counseling

Biblical Counseling is too focused on big truth?

Haven’t had much time to write of late since the pressure is on for more formal writing assignments. But, in prep for a presentation in a few weeks I have been thinking about this question. Is the biblical counseling model of change too much focused on truth? Heretical thought for some I’m sure. (For those who don’t remember I consider myself both a biblical counseling and a Christian psychologist).

Let me start with some shoddy diagrams of two classic models of change.

1. Presenting problem –>Diagnosis Made–>Counselor generated insight (reality/truth) –> Corrective action (counseling as troubleshooting ways to cement corrective action outside of session). Counseling in this model focuses on truth/reality applied to counselees life outside of session. Benefit? Problem/solution focused; objective change. Drawback? Feelings and Relational activity is minimized (though not denied). The relationship is used to get to the activity of change.

2. Presenting problem  –> Diagnosis Made (but may not be told) –>Counselor generated insight (NOT given) –>Introspection via counselor generated questions. Counseling in this model focuses on introspection and counselee generated insight. Benefit? No pressure to perform, feelings encouraged. Drawback? No real relationship focus as it is purely 1 way. No focus on objective change (assumed it will naturally happen).

So, model one is more cognitive. Model two is more dynamic. Both models want or respect the valuate of relationship but usually see it as a necessity to get to what really heals (truth or insight).

The biblical model is most like model one. In many respects, the focus on truth is good. We fallen creatures need constant reorientation. We are easily deceived. And yet, which truth? Notice Jesus with the woman at the well (John 4). He doesn’t start out with the biggest truth (she’s an adulterer). Notice that we often need more immediate truthes to be the focus. Peter needs the hand as he sinks, not a lecture. David needs Nathan’s story first. We learn that God doesn’t tell us all our sins right off the bat. We couldn’t take it. Do we in the biblical counseling world over-focus on the big truths of faith, trust, sin, idolatry, etc. that we miss the “smaller” truths that God is with us, that his hand is present right now in some small tangible way?

So, how about this model for change that is both solution focused AND interpersonal.

Presenting Problem –>Collaborative Diagnosis/Goal setting –> *[empathy ->validation ->here/now ->collaboration on meeting goals/objectives and responding to thoughts, feelings, behaviors] –> small habit change attempts –> post hoc insight.

In this model the primary work is in the interpersonal dynamics (the stuff in the brackets) and insight is more what happens after change takes place: “Oh, that’s what I was thinking then and this other way helped me to change that.” If this alternative model is a bit more accurate in portraying how people actually do change via God’s grace then this is my big question: how might this model change how we use the Scriptures in counseling.

Make any sense?  If anyone has artistic capability to render these diagrams I’d love to see how you’d do them.

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Filed under biblical counseling, christian counseling, christian psychology, counseling, counseling science, Psychology, teaching counseling

Ever hear of _____Therapy (the latest christian model)?

Someone recently mentioned “Creation Therapy” as the latest Christian counseling treatment. Ever heard of it? Is it any good?

You be the judge. Google it (with quotes) and tell me what your first impressions are of the several sites that mention it (and therefore impressions of the therapy). How would you go about evaluating the tools?

Tomorrow, I’ll make some comments on good ways to evaluate up and coming models of christian counseling.


Filed under christian counseling, counseling