A Comparison of Christian Counseling and Non Christian Counseling

Goal of Christian Counseling

Christian counseling primarily seeks to restore and strengthen the relationship between an individual with Jesus Christ. Its main objective is to make a person gain strong maturity in the Christian religion. Crabb (1977) emphasizes that the goal of Christian Counseling needs to change from making a client happy to enabling a person become more like God. The short term goal of maturity is obedience while its long-term goal is consecration to Christ’s image. Therefore, the client is allowed to experience a richer life by concentrating on making him or her become more like Christ. Another goal of Christian counseling is to enable the client worship God more effectively (Crabb, 1977).

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The objectives of non-Christian counseling methods are different from those of Christian Counseling. For instance, Rogerian theory relies upon the client’s decision (Gueldner, Britton and Terwiilliger, 2009). The direction that the counseling will take entirely depends on the client. Rogerian therapy assumes that the client will make a decision that brings about positive results to his or her life. Gueldner, Britton and Terwiilliger, (2009), believes that positive progress of the client is greatly determined by self-actualization.   However, certain differences exist when it comes to the goals and processes of the therapy. Like in Rogerian theory of counseling, the goal of Cognitive-Behavioral therapy is to make the client feel good (Bond and Dryden, 2004). These differ from the goal of Christian counseling which is to obey Christ and serve Him efficiently, thereby giving the client a feeling of joy and fulfillment (Crabb, 1977).

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Basic Concepts

Christian counseling recognizes that clients normally have needs that must be addressed. Crabb (1977) says that Christian counseling assists the client to accept oneself and have a sense of personal worth. Christians tend to lack a sense of self worth due the impacts of the original sin that was committed by mankind. The basic concerns for personal worth among men and women are significance and security respectively. In Christian counseling, personal worth translates to self-acceptance. These needs come from God and human beings should be assisted to achieve them through Christian counseling (Crabb, 1977).

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Like in Christian counseling, the basic concept of Rational Emotional Behavioral Therapy, Rogerian Theory, and Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy is worth, which eventually translates to self-acceptance (Ellis, 2000; Bond and Dryden, 2004; & Gueldner, Britton and Terwiilliger, 2009). Christian counseling however believes that performance acts as the basis of self-acceptance among clients (Crabb, 1977). According to the law of Moses, it is difficult for mankind to perform according to God’s standards. Jesus Christ therefore offered acceptance for mankind based on a person’s belief in Christ, but not on a client’s performance (Crabb, 1977).

When human beings strive for worth, they depend very much on motivation. Individuals are always motivated by the desire to have physicals security, physical needs, and a feeling of love. Through self actualization, one is able to combine all these variables into fulfillment and this is the general basic concept of Christian counseling (Crabb, 1977). Similarly, in Cognitive Behavior Therapy, an individual obtains what he or she needs after understanding a specific need and motivation (Bond and Dryden, 2004).

In Christian counseling, the client is made to think that all direction and guidance is offered by Christ. The Bible states that, the client observes Christ as the one charged with the responsibility of stating what is right or wrong. On the contrary, secular forms of counseling: Rational Emotional Behavioral Therapy, Rogerian Theory, and Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, do not see Christ as the provider of direction. Rather, the clients make an individual decision of what he or she wants to do, since people’s views about ‘truth’ is not the same. Christ is the supreme in Christian counseling while the client in the supreme in all the three forms of secular counseling (Ellis, 2000; Bond and Dryden, 2004; & Gueldner, Britton and Terwiilliger, 2009).

Other elements that distinguish Christian counseling from secular counseling are the power of the Holy Spirit and compassion for lost people. According to Crabb (1977), Christian counseling displays compassion for a world corrupted of sin and for lost people. The level of maturity in God is therefore determined by the client’s level of compassion that is extended towards those who are suffering in his or her immediate environment. On the other hand, secular forms of counseling: Rational Emotional Behavioral Therapy, Rogerian Theory, and Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, the client is only interested in things that will make him feel good (Ellis, 2000; Bond and Dryden, 2004; & Gueldner, Britton and Terwiilliger, 2009).

In Christian counseling, the power of the Holy Spirit allows the client to undergo internal transformation and believe in what may seem difficult to achieve. The powerful gift of the Holy Spirit given to people by Jesus Christ guides the clients towards the desired change. Unfortunately, the client may only fail to believe in God and serve Christ effectively due to pride, stubbornness, and foolishness (Crabb, 1977). On the other hand the concept of the Holy Spirit does not exist in the three forms of secular counseling (Ellis, 2000; Bond and Dryden, 2004; & Gueldner, Britton and Terwiilliger, 2009).

Basic Strategy

Christian counseling identifies that every person has the need for security and significance. These needs bring about the need for motivation which drives a person toward goal setting. Unfortunately, Satan works very hard to prevent people from setting goals that can enable them meet their needs. Goal setting that is directed and guided by Satan brings about a short period of fulfillment followed by a feeling of emptiness, and the desire for needs arise ones again (Crabb, 1977).

When individuals set goals without Christ’s guidance, they normally experience problems that may result from the impact of fear of failure and setting unreachable goals. It is for these reasons that such individuals fail to achieve their goals, leading to an unfulfilling life pattern accompanied by frustrations. Christian counseling therefore uses a strategy that will assist clients to understand that they must first know Christ in order to be in a position of setting reachable goals that can enable them meet their needs. This leads to a fulfilling experience that is free from pain (Crabb, 1977).

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Cognitive Behavioral therapy is similar to Christian counseling in terms of the basic strategy applied. Like in Christian Counseling, Cognitive Behavioral therapy targets at changing how the client is thinking (Bond and Dryden, 2004). In Cognitive Behavioral therapy, the therapist seeks to change the destructive thoughts presented by the client. Similarly, the therapist tries to change the basic assumptions of the client in order to initiate correct and healthy behaviors in Christian counseling (Crabb, 1977). Both Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Christian counseling allow the client to set goals. The only difference is that, in Christian Counseling, goals are set according to Biblical absolutes while in Cognitive Behavioral therapy, goals are set according to the therapist’s absolutes (Crabb 1977; & Bond and Dryden, 2004). In Rogerian theory however, goals set according to the client’s absolutes (Gueldner, Britton and Terwiilliger, 2009).

Developing a Counseling Program in the Local Church

Christian counseling must be carried out by trained Christian counselors, and church members who have been trained to provide social support to others. This counseling may be done in three different levels classified in terms of the complexity of the problem and the types of clients being counseled. First category of Church counseling involves basis encouragement, second level involves exhortation, and the third category involves enlightenment (Crabb, 1977). The church provides a very positive environment for conducting all the three levels of Christian counseling, in order to bring the client into close connection with God.

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Conversely, liable comparison is lacking in the three secular counseling methods as far as development of the counseling program in church is concerned. Rogerian theory, Cognitive Behavior therapy, and Rational Emotive Behavioral therapy are all client-centered. The techniques applied are meant to enriching individuals but not the community (Ellis, 2000; Bond and Dryden, 2004; & Gueldner, Britton and Terwiilliger, 2009). Therefore, development in church may not be necessary.

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