How is church-based counseling different from typical Christian counseling?
- It’s more community-driven than individualistic. Most Christian counseling is purely individualistic. One counselor counsels one counselee. Most Christian counselors talk about relationships but remain wholly disconnected from the other person’s life apart from scheduled, one-on-one meetings in the counselor’s office. On the other hand, church-based counseling is a team effort (Prov. 11:14, 21:26).
- It doesn’t separate the counselor and counselee’s lives, but brings them together.In most Christian counseling there is almost no overlap between the counselor’s life and the counselee’s, often intentionally so. This is based on secular psychology models which have a reductionistic view of human beings, assuming that most problems can be solved with the type of clinical education that occurs in a counseling office. Church-based counseling believes in overlapping the counselor and counselee’s lives since it assumes that life in community gives a more honest and realistic look at the troubles of the mind, heart, and will. Also, the counselor and counselee sit together under the same ministry of the Word, thereby enjoying a greater degree of unity in the faith. The counselor can draw upon that ministry of the Word in his or her counseling work. And the counselee can see that the counselor practices the life he or she preaches.
- It normalizes counseling problems rather than making them exotic. Some counseling runs the risk of making people’s problems seem embarrassingly exotic. Church-based counseling “normalizes” them, because it helps people to see that all Christians struggle with sin and suffering and should seek godly counsel. Church-based counseling also normalizes people’s problems in that it is built on the conviction that God’s people, filled with God’s Spirit and equipped by God’s Word, are able to help those who struggle and suffer. This is the opposite of what typical Christian counseling often communicates: that only “professionals” with degrees and credentials are able to help.