What is the role of counseling skills in a Christ-centered approach?


It is important to distinguish the model (including message and goals) of counseling from the communications skills used in the process. Much of what is taught under the heading of generic counseling skills is simply an analysis of the dynamics of good communication in the context of facilitating change.

For example, a chef may have excellent cooking skills, but the quality of the meal depends on the food and the recipe. Likewise, the Christ centered counselor has a tremendous counseling advantage if the counselee is open to a Christian model of helping. The “food” is the Bread of Life (John 6:35); the “recipe” is the particular biblical counseling approach the counselor employs.

But the Christian counselor needs discernment to recognize where humanistic presuppositions color the definition of counseling skills. Instead of being non-directive, the biblical counselor is directive (Psalm 119:105). Although there is unconditional positive regard of the person, the client’s beliefs and ethics will be evaluated under the unchanging standard of God’s Word (2 Tim. 3:16,17). Similarly, the counselor’s beliefs and behaviors are also accountable to this divine revelation (1 Tim. 4:15,16).

A quick internet search turns up a summary of generic counseling skills like this one. Kevin J. Drab introduces his article on “The Top Ten Basic Counseling Skills” in a way that elevates the skills over the content:

“Research is increasingly finding that the type of therapy used is not a important to outcomes as are specific counselor behaviors such as (1) Enthusiasm, (2) Confidence, (3) Belief in the patient’s ability to change. Although there is nothing which will ensure change, it would appear that clients are more likely to achieve their goals when a good and positive relationship exists between them and their therapist. In essence the counselor’s interactions with the client are a powerful tool in the helping relationship.”

We would beg to differ; if/when the counselor and counselee are open to the Gospel and the Spirit of God as Ultimate Counselor, transformational change is possible! With these distinctions in mind, you can download the PDF of his generic counseling skills summary here: http://www.people.vcu.edu/~krhall/resources/cnslskills.pdf

May we model integrity, biblical faithfulness as well as good communication skills:

“So he [king David] shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart,
And guided them by the skillfulness of his hands” (Psalm 78;72).


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s