When is it Time to Call in the Professionals?
I have been counseling biblically for more than 20 years and I have seen an increase in complex and complicating problems since I first entered into this ministry.
In the early days, I helped women who were struggling with anxiety and anger, husbands and wives who had poor communication, and those who needed help with children who didn’t want to obey. In the last 10 years I have seen a steady increase in very complicated counseling issues with a variety of difficult and overlapping problems:
- Cases involving divorce in which one parent is actively turning the children against the other parent.
- Situations of multiple adulteries that have produced children with several women, or a married woman who is not sure who the father of her child is.
- Situations in which my counselee appears to be schizophrenic and has auditory and visual hallucinations.
- A person who is so severely alcohol dependent that they must drink in order to maintain normal body function
- Someone who has been so emotionally abused that they are frightened of everything and everyone.
It is easy to become overwhelmed with the level of difficulty and to think that it is time to call in the professionals. The professionals are the establishment licensed counselors who operate under a secular or integrated paradigm. These counselors look at the problems and classify them into one of the categories from The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Illness (DSM), Version V. They will then employ one of the various theories of personality (which secular psychology insists you must have) to try and help the person.
These theories change frequently and are not based on concrete science. There are numerous theories but there is no agreement on which theory is right or even best. The professionals believe that emotional and behavioral problems have an organic (physical) cause within the body and should be treated by the medical doctor or the psychologist. Furthermore, these professionals do not believe that the emotional or mental problems are related to the spirit or spiritual causes.
As a biblical counselor, I hold to the position that we are both material (physical) and immaterial (spiritual). When I have a counselee who comes with bizarre symptoms that may have a basis in their physical body, my ethical responsibility is to send them to a physician who can do objective testing for a biological malfunction or a disease. Whatever is not proven to be physical through objective medical testing must be attributed to the nonphysical or immaterial part of a person.
Two thousand years ago when Jesus walked the earth, He was presented with people who were selfish, violent, immoral, fearful, dishonest, greedy, and a host of other things (Mark 2:15 -17). Jesus did not consult a theory of personality to help the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:1 – 42), or the rich young ruler (Mark 10:17 -27). Both of these people were determined to be in deep spiritual trouble! He knew that the issues of man were spiritual ones and He counseled them accordingly.
The majority of the people that we see in biblical counseling are also in spiritual trouble to varying degrees. While the Bible does not present a theory of personality, it is clear on God’s viewpoint of man. In addition, the Bible gives us numerous insights regarding how God is intimately involved in the emotional and mental life of His people. Nothing escapes God’s notice–no thought, belief, desire, want, or perceived need. He is the one who restores us to health and wholeness when we are ill in any way. Most often, people who are diagnosed with some sort of mental disorder are soul sick, not brain sick.
The truths found in the Bible are indispensable to understanding ourselves and the world in which we live. While it is much more than that, the Bible is a counseling textbook. Because of the sin that has completely marred all of God’s image bearers, we sometimes need counsel and help. We are all out of order or dysfunctional! Because of original sin (Genesis 3), we have departed from our initially created state of being. Our sinful state causes us to have flawed logic and reason, so we cannot rely on our own faculties to be righteous. This is why we resist obedience. We need others to come alongside us and redirect us back onto the path of righteousness. There are times when we all become blinded to our own sin.
In contrast to our disorderly being, Jesus is the only one who has ever been normal and retained his state of being. The Christian’s goal is to return to the biblical norm. This won’t happen in its entirety until we die. Scripture, however, insists that we begin now be transformed or changed by the renewing of our minds. This can happen only by the power of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. The more of Jesus we know, and the more of his life we emulate, the more normal we will become. This process of transformation will take the rest of our lives (2 Corinthians 3:18).
Unless there are issues that require medical intervention, the biblical counselor is completely equipped to help counselees who have difficult and complicating problems. Even when medical issues are present, biblical counseling can help the counselee deal with the spiritual issues that result from the diagnosis.