3 Frequently Asked Questions About Getting Biblical Counseling

June 5, 2013

Local Church Series - 3 Frequently Asked Questions About Getting Biblical Counseling

Local Church Series - 3 Frequently Asked Questions About Getting Biblical Counseling

BCC Staff Note: You’re reading Part Six in a multi-part series by the BCC’s Grace & Truth bloggers on Biblical Counseling in the Local Church. In addition to today’s post by Eliza Jane Huie, you can read Part One by Pastor Steve Viars: Biblical Counseling and Community Outreach, Part Two by Keri Seavey: Keeping Equipping Simple in the Local Church, Part Three by Kevin Carson: The Local Church: The Place for Help, Part Four by Andrew Rogers: Conviction: Vital for Biblical Counseling in the Local Church, and Part Five by Jonathan Holmes: Adultery and Counseling in the Local Church. The final post in this series will be by Pastor Deepak Reju.

FAQ # 1: Do I Need Counseling?

Frequently friends ask me this question: “How do I know if I need counseling?” The truth is, we receive counseling every day as we interact in relationships; however, it can be difficult to know when to seek formal counseling.

For some people counseling is viewed in the same way as going to a doctor; the final step toward getting help for a problem. These are the people who avoid going to the doctor until there is something seriously wrong. They’ve tried the home remedies and over-the-counter treatments. Things do not seem to be getting better. More than likely things are actually getting worse. Seeking counseling can feel similar to this. There can even be a sense of failure attached to it—a line of thinking that says, “Something is wrong with you.”

Perhaps a better way to approach counseling would be to view it like the “well-checks” that children go through while growing, or the routine physical, or maybe even the yearly recommended flu shot. While raising my children, I found they went to the doctor more often when they were healthy than when they were sick. They had to receive check-ups and immunizations to insure their proper development and prevent harmful illnesses. I never thought there was reason for concern in attending these appointments. They were considered precautionary measures.

Counseling can be viewed this way also. It’s true; most people don’t seek counsel when things are going trouble-free in their lives. However, looking for counseling doesn’t have to only be an option when in the middle of a major crisis.

Our circumstances, big or small, often are so up close and personal that we can be either overwhelmed or blinded by them. Counseling allows a new set of eyes to look in on what’s happening in your life; eyes that are not biased to parties involved, or emotionally connected to the situation.  Counseling provides eyes that can objectively observe with better clarity.

FAQ # 2: What Should I Expect from Counseling?

Once you have decided to seek counseling, the next question you need to wrestle with, both privately and with your counselor, is what to expect. People bring expectations to nearly every situation and counseling is no exception.

While there are some aspects of counseling that can be clearly defined; cost, length of session, appointment regularity, etc., there are others that need clarification. If you are seeking formal counseling, you should have at least a general idea of the areas on which you want to focus.  When you seek counsel, be ready to discuss the presenting issue. What is bringing you in for counseling?  With that said, don’t be surprised if that changes. Often what seems to be the “big issue” is only masking other things that are left untouched or tucked away. Often we need the insight of others to carefully take us to things we may otherwise avoid.

What do you expect from your counselor? Perhaps taking the question from a different angle would be more helpful. How about what not to expect? One thing you should definitely not expect is for your counselor to fix things for you. Personal struggles and relational issues are not something to be fixed like an appliance, nor are they problems to solve like a word puzzle.

Always remember, you are dealing with a person (whether it is yourself or another person you are struggling with). We are not called to fix people; we are called to love them. Counseling always deals with people and relationships. A good counselor will help you see that people are not problems to be solved.

FAQ # 3: When Does Counseling End?

While regular counseling can taper down and even have a closing to it, try viewing counseling like building a house. When you are in the building stage, you spend a lot of time focusing on the plans and even go into significant detail on how you want things to progress. You spend a lot of time talking to designers and contractors. They are your guides through the entire project.

However, once the house is complete you cannot assume you will never need an electrician, plumber, or handyman to ever darken your doorway again. General maintenance is essential to keeping the home in good condition. Neglecting issues only leads to bigger, more costly problems.

The same can be said of counseling. If you have invested in building the foundation in personal growth or relational harmony, then recognize that it is wise to address issues as they arise. This does not mean you run to counseling with every bump in the road; however, it does mean you don’t have to wait until things are falling apart to check back in for some insight or direction.

Hopefully this helps you view counseling with less of the stigma of “something is wrong,” but instead with hopeful encouragement.

Join the Conversation

What are some questions that you have as you consider seeking formal counseling?

What are additional FAQs would you add as a local church counselor?

4 thoughts on “3 Frequently Asked Questions About Getting Biblical Counseling

  1. Did I miss something? Is this FAQ article about biblical counselling, or secular counselling? I feel like any modern psychologist or therapist could have written this. Where is the Church or the ongoing work of the Spirit in a believers life in these responses? Does progressive sanctification play any role at all in answer to the above FAQ’s? There are some critical distinctions between secular counselling and biblical counselling that are absent from this post. This post could have come from the pages of Modern Psychology I’m afraid.

  2. Keith
    Your are right about there being critical distinctions between secular and biblical counseling. When you begin to get into the practical approach to counseling these distinctions become inescapably obvious. Often times, however, the very first questions people wrestle with are not all that different from what a person seeking secular counseling might ask. These are some of the broadest questions. While these questions may not sound very spiritual but more practical, they do apply to biblical counseling and should be considered. However, to address more specifically your concern I want to say I was encouraged by your response because while writing this post I found it difficult to only stick to the broader questions that are posted here. There are many more specific questions that do get into the distinctions you bring up. These are very important question as well. Before publishing there had already been discussion about a second post collaborating some of the questions that pertain to the more specific FAQ of biblical counseling. I think you will see some of those distinctions addressed there.Thanks for reading and commenting on the blog.

  3. Thank you Eliza. I appreciate your response and will look forward to the upcoming blog posts you mention.

  4. Pingback: More FAQs about Biblical Counseling | Biblical Counseling Coalition Blogs

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