Mark McMinn (1996) advances the belief that Christian counselors need to not only be versed in the latest psychological methods and knowledgeable about theological concepts, but they also need to have a spiritual maturity. With these three disciplines, counselors can feel well prepared in addressing prayer, Scripture, sin, confession, forgiveness, and redemption. McMinn (1996) puts forth a model for healing which starts with a healthy sense of self, moves into brokenness or need, and concludes with a healthy relationship with God and others.
Praying for clients outside of the counseling session or in counseling sessions quietly is strongly urged as it can help and does not put the client at any risk. Open prayer, however, with the client can be both helpful and harmful. On the positive, clients can learn how to pray and can grow closer to God by petitioning in prayer or by worshiping God. On the negative, clients may grow too intimate with the counselor or may not pray by themselves believing the prayers in the counseling sessions suffice. McMinn (1996) emphasizes it is critical for the counselor to have his or her own prayer times to remain strong with the Lord.
Scripture is rarely used in counseling according to McMinn (1996) despite its healing potential. Psychologists help clients find the truth within themselves and to count on themselves to solve their problems. Christian counselors, however, look to God for this and to Scripture for the Truth. Depending on the client’s mental and spiritual well-being, a counselor must determine the appropriate use of Scripture.
With sin, some clients blame themselves for their choices in life while others blame everyone else. By accenting the concept of original sin, those clients who blame themselves can be given hope as all men were born with this. By accenting personal sin, those who blame everyone else can be shown their own part to play and can be redirected towards God.
Confession of their sins can lead clients into a new relationship with God. Some who think poorly of themselves resist confession due to the discomfort it brings while others who think too highly of themselves resist it out of sheer pride. Psychologists use confession to come to a place of comfort while Christian counselors use it so clients can see themselves and God in the right light.
Forgiveness, as with confession, can be used by psychologists to free clients of the pain and memories which have held them back. Christian counselors encourage forgiveness as a Christian duty. God tells us to forgive and so we should. However, true forgiveness comes when Christians are aware of their own inequities and forgive their perpetrators out of kindness and compassion.
Redemption of the client occurs when God cleans the slate of all the client’s sins and provides him or her with a new Christ-centered life. Counselors can play a role in this process by providing comfort to their clients and perspective on their clients’ lives. God ultimately provides the redemption.
McMinn, M.R. (1996). Psychology, theology, and spirituality in Christian counseling. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.