In the realm of mental well-being there are two major forms of counseling. One form focuses on the cognitive, behavioral, and physical aspects of mental health through the eyes of psychology. The other form, focuses on these areas as well. However, it adds the dimension of the soul through the eyes of religion and spirituality. The following selection presents a brief introduction in Biblical, Pastoral and Christian counseling.
Regarding actual counseling for Christians, there are different names and forms of it. The most general term will be faith-based counseling. This is often used for counseling Christians or any other type of religious or spiritual faith; this is just a general or broad spectrum term. Then you have the three major forms of counseling: Biblical, Pastoral, and Christian counseling.
Biblical counseling presents the sufficiency of scripture for all things in life because it is given by the inspiration of God (In your Bible, see 2 Timothy 3:16). Also with this form, a person has to be saved before they can receive counseling. If they are not saved, they will not be able to understand the things of the Bible; they will be foolishness to them. If the person is not saved, the counselor must first address the matter of sin, the work of Christ on the cross, and have the counselee make a commitment of receiving Christ into their heart. Then the counselor can begin the work of counseling through the Bible. If the person does not choose to accept Christ, time is given for the person to weigh their options, if they reject it, counseling is over. This is one of the main reasons that this form of counseling remains within the church and the ministries that are within it. With this form, anyone who is a mature Christian, is first right with God in accordance to scripture, is led by the Holy Spirit, and knows the Bible well, is considered to be adequately equipped to use this form.
In Pastoral counseling, you basically have the same thing as with Biblical counseling. The major difference is that the primary person who does this is the head or senior pastor. However, in churches where there are associate pastors, they also do this work. Additionally, it is important to take note of the program from which the pastor learned their pastoral counseling skills. This must be done because for several years, many pastor and minister programs, including those of some seminaries, were teaching a Christian counseling approach, that is a blend of the Bible plus Psychology (currently known as Christian counseling).
Christian counseling is an blend or integrative form of counseling. It integrates both Biblical and Pastoral counseling with psychology. It may use the Christian vocabulary, but for the most part, the majority of the approaches and orientations derive from psychology. This approach is controversial within Christianity because it contrasts with the scripture of 2 Timothy 3:16 as well as other scriptures.
In closing, there many forms of counseling, even within Christianity. It is the responsibility of every Christian to educate themselves over these forms and learn which is the one that is used by their pastor and church leaders. Most importantly, it should be noted that no one should submit themselves under someone who is not in right standing with God (no exceptions)!
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R. A. Gómez