There are specific situations where counseling is appropriate:
There are also different general approaches to counseling. The sociologist will emphasize the importance of the influence of society as it molds the character of your life. The psychologist will emphasize the importance of "self" and the factors which influence "self-esteem". The psychiatrist will emphasize the importance of physical and chemical factors which influence your mental and emotional states. The biblical / pastoral counselor will emphasize importance of both the Living and the written Word of God and their influence upon your nature, character, and behavior.
Second, effective counseling is to be Scriptural. Paul tells us that the Word is the basis for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in right living (II Timothy 3:16). David said, "Thy testimonies also are my delight and my counsellors" (Psalms 119:24). The Bible is our instruction manual. It is our guide for life. Things go wrong when we fail to follow the manual. James declares that we are to receive the engrafted Word that is able to save our souls (mind, will, and emotions) (James 1:21).
Third, effective counseling is to be spiritually inspired. Solomon, in a dream, asked for wisdom, and God gave it to him (I Kings 3:9, 12). God also promises to give us wisdom. "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all [men] liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him" (James 1:5). Wisdom is the ability to see from God's perspective. However, one must not only see from God's perspective, one also must be able to communicate what God wants communicated. Therefore, one must be filled with the Holy Spirit. The counselor needs to be like Stephen. "And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake" (Acts 6:10). Good counseling should have Isaiah 11:2 as a motto.
Fourth, effective counseling should be discerning. The enemy may appear as an angel of light (II Corinthians 11:14). Therefore, the counselor should test the spirits (I John 4:1). The Christian counselor may also need bind evil spirits, tear down strong holds, and cast out the spirits.
Fifth, effective counseling should be judged for accuracy. The Word says, "Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety" (Proverbs 11:14). There should be no "Lone Rangers" in counseling. Most counselors have some blind spots that are seen by others, but not by themselves. The enemy also is more likely to attack the lone sheep. Those in counseling should be willing to submit to counseling themselves if needed.
Sixth, effective counseling is mature. We should heed the warning from Scripture. Rehoboam turned the people of Israel against him because " . . . he forsook the counsel which the old men gave him, and took counsel with the young men that were brought up with him, that stood before him" (II Chronicles 10:8). Mature counsel also knows when to feed milk and when to feed meat (I Corinthians 3:2 and Hebrews 5:12). Mature counsel has learned to discern between good and bad (Hebrews 5:14). Mature counsel is stable (Ephesians 4:13-14) and exemplifies the counsel of Christ. The result of spiritually mature counsel is that you learn the difference between what is right and what is wrong, repent, and receive freedom.
Seventh, effective counseling is progressive. God does not always answer us when we ask. "And Saul asked counsel of God, Shall I go down after the Philistines? wilt thou deliver them into the hand of Israel? But he answered him not that day" (I Samuel 14:37). Sin blocks the receiving of God-inspired counsel. Sin in your life also may block you from making progress. The counselor always desires that you make progress. However, when the counselor discovers a wall of resistance in your life, he may be unable to give the counsel that he would like to give until that wall is torn down. God may say, "Do what I have told you to do before I give you any more instructions." Christian counseling is to address the wall of resistance in love and with spiritual authority.
Eighth, effective counseling is to be conviction based. Paul said, "Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine" (II Timothy 4:2). The primary reason that most people need counsel is that they, in some way, have not obeyed God or have not been taught to follow the Spirit. An effort to live by our own abilities and reject the grace of God is to live in sin and bring judgment upon ourselves. Therefore, one must come to see the roots of sin before he can get very far on the road to recovery.
Ninth, effective counseling needs to speak the truth in love. The truth should bring conviction and repentance. "For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death" (II Corinthians 7:10). Paul declared that he had a clear conscience before God and man (Acts 24:16). Once one receives a clear conscience, he can see clearly to make a stand. David said, "He shall not be afraid of evil tidings: his heart is fixed, trusting in the LORD" (Psalm 112:7). Paul declared, ". . . for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day" (II Timothy 1:12). He also exhorts us, "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord" (I Corinthians 15:58).
Tenth, effective counseling must be prayer-centered. The Christian counselor will begin the session with prayer. When Christian counselors pray, God often brings to the surface the real issues. When Christian counselors pray, you receive deliverance, healing, and direction for your life. When you pray you may receive forgiveness for your sins, eternal life, and confidence that God will continue to work in your life.
Eleventh, effective counseling must deal with the whole person (spirit, soul, and body). We need to realize that each of these areas is interrelated. Moreover, when spiritual issues are dealt with, the other areas are dramatically effected. John wrote, "Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth" (III John 1:2). When you confess bitterness as sin and forgive the offender, then depression may leave and the symptoms of arthritis may also disappear. When you turn worry over to the Lord, then the confusion leaves and stomach trouble leaves.
Twelfth, effective counseling must incorporate the portion of truth found in secular forms of counseling. Effective counseling should incorporate all truth no matter where it is found, but test concepts and methods by the Word and Spirit of God. Furthermore, any truth taken to the exclusion to other truths becomes a lie.
Next, you will be encouraged to share some details of your situation as you feel that you are able to do so. As you share your thoughts, feeling, beliefs, and experiences the counselor will be listening closely to understand your words, feelings, and the essence of your communication.
The counselor will also be listening closely to hear what the Holy Spirit is saying about your situation. The counselor will be asking God some of the following questions. What are the causes for the problems from God's perspective? What does God desire to happen in your life (as general goals)? What are the solutions to the problems from God's perspective? What steps should be taken to bring about lasting solutions? How can the counselor communicate an understanding of causes and the solutions to the situations? The counselor will also be taking notes of what you are saying and of what he hears the Holy Spirit saying.
The next step is for the counselor to begin to communicate from a positive perspective, causes, goals, and solutions. The counselor will appeal to your own good desires to resolve the difficulties. The counselor will use Scripture and real life illustrations as the Holy Spirit leads him to do so. He will begin to lay out a plan of action for you. "This is what we will do if you are willing."
The counselor will bring you by prayer into direct contact with God. He will initiate the prayer by thanking God that the Lord has brought you to this place, then ask that the grace of God be upon you and enable you to make the proper steps. The counselor may also lead you in one or more of the following prayers. He may lead you into a prayer of salvation committing your life to Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. He may lead you into a prayer of confession of sins and asking of forgiveness and cleansing. He may lead you into a prayer to forgive others and ask God to forgive you of unforgiveness. He may lead you into a prayer to give all your personal rights unto God. He may lead you into a prayer to ask for healing of hurts, for physical healing, restoration of relationships, financial prosperity, for wisdom, for God's power to minister, and His grace to overcome. He may also lead you into a prayer to break generational curses. He may lead you into a prayer of deliverance from evil spirits. Finally, he may lead you into a prayer to make specific commitments to God to do what is right according to the Word of God.
You should understand that a good part of counseling in communication of truth as found in God's Word. The counselor is responsible to validate counsel through the sharing of the Word. Therefore, the counselor will give handouts to reinforce the material that is covered in a session. He will also give assignments to bring application of the Word. He may ask you to go to someone and ask their forgiveness. He may ask you to make a list of your priorities. He may ask you to read certain Bible passages and apply them. He may ask you to stop and pray when you are tempted to do something wrong. He may ask you to submit to a certain authority that you may receive the blessings of God.
Whole Person Counseling depends upon the leadership of the Holy Spirit in every session. It is Christian Counseling that goes beyond just coping to overcoming.