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Most biblical counseling training organizations focus on teaching their students the correct facts about the Bible and counseling. Counselors must know how to counsel by using the right information, but counselors need much more than that. An academic mindset is a singular approach that could lead to horrific results in the counseling office.
Let me illustrate:
If the only thing we looked for in a student were the right answers, we would miss these character development issues: insecurity, temptation, habits, procrastination, organization, priorities, etc. Counseling is much more than giving the right answers; it’s the role of seasoned leaders.
In addition to providing a world-class curriculum for our students, we go beyond giving them the right answers. If I can learn the student’s strengths, weaknesses, tendencies, behaviors, likes, and dislikes, it will help me serve them better. It will also give indicators of what they can do well or not so well. God did not create all Christian equally.
In most biblical counseling training programs, the student receives the information, and then they have to parrot it back to their trainer to prove they know the information. That is an inferior academic model that teaches facts alone. We’re developing leaders because good biblical counselors need much more than Bible information.
Illustration – We have a report that a student has to do, applying five articles to their lives. The assignment has a word count from 250 to 300. We do not tell them much about this assignment.
Here are a few things that I’m looking for in that report:
The reason for being less directive is because we’re looking for more than just telling them what to do, and they parrot back the right answers. This assignment is like a counseling session.
Let me illustrate: The counselee gives you a data dump of information. This Mastermind assignment is typically the student reading 10,000 words. The student has to apply it in 300 words personally: I have described a counseling session for you.
Uncertainty is the standard in all counseling situations. If you’re not comfortable with uncertainty, you won’t be a good counselor.
We must know if the student is a leader as much as we want to give them the right answers. Some students think it’s the homework that we assess the most. Not true. It’s everything else, and then the homework is last.
One more example: We require our students to interact with the folks who come to us for help. It’s a supervised training aspect of our program, which provides a vital piece of assessment data on each student.
I take leadership development seriously, and I want to serve the students in the most effective ways, but I won’t do that if I do not know them. Besides them being the best that they can be, the more vital thing is the counselee. It’s always the counselee.
If the student is insecure, temperamental, stubborn, divisive, or inconsistent, can’t calendar plan, doesn’t keep commitments, and needs hand-holding, [fill in the blank], I need to know this because, ultimately, we’re releasing them onto hurting souls.
If you want to learn more about our training, start here. There are four areas that we address with all our students.
Rick launched the Life Over Coffee global training network in 2008 to bring hope and help for you and others by creating resources that spark conversations for transformation. His primary responsibilities are resource creation and leadership development, which he does through speaking, writing, podcasting, and educating.
In 1990 he earned a BA in Theology and, in 1991, a BS in Education. In 1993, he received his ordination into Christian ministry, and in 2000 he graduated with an MA in Counseling from The Master’s University. In 2006 he was recognized as a Fellow of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC).