BCC Staff Note: You’re reading Part Two in a multi-part series written by biblical counseling educators. You’ll enjoy great diversity in this series, not only related to the authors, but also to the topics. We simply asked a number of biblical counseling educators to craft a blog post about anything they wanted to discuss related to biblical counseling and education. Some are focusing on their teaching ministry. Others are focusing on their personal educational journey. Still others are focusing on relating important theological issues to everyday life. Enjoy! You can read part One by Heath Lambert at Mental Illness, Psychiatric Drugs, and Counseling Education.
Teaching the theory of biblical counseling is not particularly taxing for most of us who have been engaged in theological education for a number of years. Drawing upon the great doctrines of theology and making application of regeneration, justification, sanctification, and union with Christ as the foundation of biblical counseling as well as the critique of secularism that continually encroaches upon the Christian public thinking is almost second nature.
However, communicating effectively the implementation of the many nuances of this theory does present us with challenges. I have found five tools to be very helpful in developing the skill of implementation.
I have found it helpful to use neutered segments of counseling stories to illustrate any number of issues or situations that arise in the discussion of implementing either Scripture or some dimension of the counseling process. For example, suppose the issue regards how to deal with a “dripping faucet” (to use the language of Proverbs). The following illustrates the usefulness of storytelling.
I once ask a woman who obviously was guilty of such behavior, but absolutely oblivious to it, to have a yellow pad and a pen available when she and her husband sat down to address several issues. Her assignment was to write out her concise statement of the issue from her perspective.
When they began their communication time he was to ask her for her statement which she was to read. From that point forward she could only answer yes or no to his questions and she was to listen to him writing down what he said. They were then to come back to counseling with this information. At that point I took her to the appropriate Proverbs and asked her what it was like to experience their conference and then asked him the same question. Her response was, “I was totally frustrated. I wanted to talk and make him see where he was wrong. I guess I do this a lot.”
Frequently, when we are discussing a case study or a recent opportunity that a student has to counsel, I ask the student to suggest an Old Testament narrative she could use to illustrate her point to her counselee. Just one of many values of this technique is that it can help people to see the reality of 1 Corinthians 10:13—problems are common to man.
I have multiple opportunities to supervise counseling. These include our doctoral program at Birmingham Theological Seminary, NANC candidates, and our Lay Counseling Staff at our church. These supervisees must submit extensive reports. In the case of the D.Min. students and the NANC candidates, there will often be counseling cases that cover 8 to 10 to 15 sessions. These reports, judicially neutered, can become effective training tools by which the trainee can walk in the shoes of the supervisee and follow the supervision to observe the course corrections along the way.
Some in biblical counseling circles object to role plays. I have never grasped the objection and have found role playing very effective. It gives the trainee opportunity to experience the place of the counselee. It gives opportunity for the trainee to practice thinking on his/her feet. It provides opportunity to think globally about the counseling process.
During the course of our two-semester program (52 hours), I will have a lay counselor come to class to counsel me as I take the role of a counselee. My lay counselor begins with a mock PDI. I stay true to the character and the session lasts 50 minutes. During the second semester every trainee has the opportunity to be the counselee and the counselor utilizing a similar format.
Round Table Case Studies
We use this format with our Lay Counseling staff and trainees. Counselors gather at the conference table. Either the counselor or a trainee/observer will report out the counseling session using only a first name or case number. The counselor will be asked to provide the rationale for his/her process and counseling homework. This is a “no holds barred” session where the tough questions can be addressed.
This is very similar to the model used at CCEF in the early days and I have adapted it to our situation. I have found it to be an exceptional learning climate.
Join the Conversation
What additional effective/creative teaching methods do you suggest for equipping people for biblical counseling?