Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Nouthetic Counseling

posted by Wayne Shih at http://acts18910.blogspot.com/

A couple of years ago David Wayne at JollyBlogger wrote On Christian Counseling, in which he provides a summary of approaches to counseling vis-a-vis psychology: "Here in the US, there is a great debate about the integration of psychology and the Christian faith. I see three camps in this - full integrationists, cautious integrationists and non-integrationists."

Nouthetic counseling would be included in the latter camp. Nouthetic counseling was popularized by Jay Adams. He defines it like this: "To put it simply, nouthetic counseling consists of lovingly confronting people out of deep concern in order to help them make those changes that God requires."

David Wayne explains his understanding of nouthetic counseling:
Adams got the ball rolling for nouthetic counseling by assuring us that the Bible is sufficient for counseling. On the other hand, he has been accused of using a "take two Bible verses and call me in the morning" approach, and there is a bit of truth in this. As I read his stuff, he emphasizes behavior and discipline, which are good things. The newer generation of nouthetic counselors, represented by CCEF folks like David Powlison, Ed Welch, Paul Tripp and others do a better job of getting to heart issues than Adams did, again IMHO.

I'm in favor of the nouthetic approach because, to paraphrase David Powlison, it approaches the Bible as a very big book. Powlison says that many see the Bible as a very small book - speaking only to "spiritual" matters related to salvation and sanctification. In this "small Bible" view, the Bible can tell you how to get saved and grow in Christ, but there are many other matters for which it is insufficient. For those matters, you need a trained psychologist. The nouthetic approach says that the Bible is a very big book, which gives principles for every area of life, including major psychological problems.

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