Our Approach to Counselling
Biblical Counselling Australia’s theologically grounded approach to pastoral care and counselling.
Adapted from a 2009 article by Tim Lane and David Powlison, CCEF History, Theological Foundations and Counseling Model found at : http://www.ccef.org/ccef-history-theological-foundations-and-counseling-model
1. We are Christ-centred. Therefore, we point people to a person, Jesus Christ, and not a program or system. He is wisdom from God, the inexpressible gift who delivers us from our sins and sufferings. He is the fullness of God from whom we receive grace upon grace, and in whom the call to obedience finds its inner principle and power. People need the Saviour, not a system of self-salvation.
2. We believe the Scriptures are very rich in their understanding of who we are as human beings and that through them, God discerns and uncovers the thoughts and intentions of the human heart. The Word of God is the ‘mirror’ in which God reveals to us who we truly are. God works through his written Word, with the Holy Spirit, to change what is wrong in our hearts. Therefore, we use Scripture with a full commitment to its authority and sufficiency, convinced that from beginning to end, it reveals Christ and his powerful redeeming grace addressing the needs and struggles of the human condition.
3. We believe that the life and work of Jesus is not only the basis for care but also the model for how care is to be administered. Therefore, in order to love a person well, we seek to be filled with the Spirit of Christ and ‘put on Christ’. We seek to know people well, to listen well and enter into their story, and to express truth in love in all we do and say. Such Christ-like love recognises that a particular season of intentional counselling plays one part within a life-long process of Christian growth.
4. We believe that Jesus is our faithful Redeemer who enables us to persevere in the midst of our problems. Therefore, we understand that change is often slow and hard. Jesus promises no instant panacea. He abides in us as we abide in him. He gives grace to walk a long obedience in the same direction, learning wisdom.
5. We believe in God’s common grace to all humanity and therefore we can learn from those who do not espouse a Christian worldview. For example, while the fundamental worldview of the secular psychologies runs counter to Christianity and important things are not seen at all or are misconstrued, helpful descriptions can be found in the writings and teachings of those who have become case-wise through their research and experience. With a process of critique and reinterpretation through the lens of Scripture, these materials can inform our care of those in need and can be useful to us as we continue to develop our biblically-based counselling method.
6. We believe that we were created to be in relationship with God – a relationship characterised by love, worship, trust, obedience and the service of the Creator God who loves us. We also believe that problems with our hearts arise as a consequence of our disruption of that relationship. Therefore, we seek to be used to help bring people back into a full relationship with God as a necessary and central part of dealing with the problems that they bring to counselling.
7. We believe that human behaviour is inextricably tied to deeper motivational drives called ‘intentions’ and ‘desires’ in Scripture. Therefore, we emphasise the primacy of a person’s heart, because all human acts arise from a worship core, either disordered or rightly ordered.
8. We believe that there are many causes of suffering – God, Satan, the fallen and cursed creation, self and other people. Therefore, although we always seek to attend to issues of sin in an appropriate way, we do not assume that a person is the cause of his or her own suffering, or that repenting of sin will necessarily relieve all suffering.
9. We believe that God gives his people a new heart that is capable of following in his ways, but that, this side of heaven, the desires of the flesh continue to war against the desires of the Spirit so that even the most mature Christians may be caught by the deceitfulness of sin. Therefore, everyone is in need of regular personal mutual encouragement and exhortation by others in the course of daily life, which is part of our understanding of what counselling is.
10. We believe that we best image the triune God as we live and grow in community. Moreover, we believe that the Scriptures teach the priesthood of all believers, which includes a mutual ‘one-anothering’ ministry for all of God’s people. Therefore, we promote and encourage personal change within God’s community, the church, with all its rich resources of corporate and interpersonal means of grace.
11. We believe that human beings are both spiritual and physical beings. People are physically embodied by God’s design so that a variety of bodily influences impact moral response. Therefore, we take the whole person seriously, acknowledging that there are ambiguities for us at the interface of soul and body. We seek to remain sensitive to physiological factors as the context within which God calls a person to faith and obedience.
12. We believe that people are in families and communities by God’s design. Therefore, we recognise that a variety of socio-cultural influences and sufferings influence moral response. We take the person’s whole context seriously, acknowledging that there are ambiguities for us at the interface between an individual and their social environment. We seek to remain sensitive to social factors, as the context within which God calls a person to faith and obedience.
13. We believe that we have not “arrived.” Although God graciously uses us every day in the lives of others, we have not fully and clearly expressed all that the Bible has to say about counselling ministry. Therefore, because Jesus tarries and we are not yet what we shall be, we humbly admit that we struggle to consistently apply all that we say we believe or should believe. We want to learn and grow in wisdom. We who counsel and teach counselling live in process, just like those we counsel and teach. We are people in need of change, helping people in need of change.