When learning something from another person, you have to know what their view of man is. What do they believe about the origins of man, did we evolve? Are we still evolving? Do they believe that certain problems that plague mankind like alcoholism, homosexuality, and gambling are genetic in origin? Do they believe in a literal creation, a literal Christ, the need for a literal Savior?
The reason this is so very important is we give counsel in part from our view of man. One who believes alcoholism is a genetic disease is going to teach how to cope and strategize in order to stay sober and to “manage” something you have no control over because this disease is in your genes.
That is why we want to know how the counselor (the one giving the information) defines the problem. Do they view it Biblically or psychologically? Is it Co-dependency or idolatry; are they dealing with low self-esteem or pride; is it a chemical imbalance or sinful thoughts? This is very important. As the counselor or discipler, you have to know how they define the problem. What is their frame of reference?
The counselee will want to know what the counselor thinks the problem is. We do not promote ourselves as “experts” but the counselee’s may initially see us that way because that is the paradigm that has been set up in society. We promote using the biblical terminology for the psychological diagnosis. It gives the counselee hope and helps them to see that there is a solution to the problem at hand. Unfortunately by the time they get to us, they have tried most of the other ways to “get better” and have found no relief. Most people are very encouraged to hear that the Bible does have a solution to the problems of life they are facing.
We want to be able to clearly define and describe what our goals are for the counselee. They want to know! Many of them come with the only goal of feeling better. The counselor has to clearly communicate to the person that feeling better is not the primary goal of counseling. We are trying to turn them into people who live their lives to glorify God by reorienting their thoughts, beliefs, and desires from those that focus on self, to those that glorify God.
The role of the biblical counselor in this process is different than a secular counselor. Our job is to point them to Christ, to help them understand that Scripture must be applied when it is known, that they are to deny self and follow Jesus.
The secular counselor would typically focus more on how to feel good in the midst of the pain. To scream or vent if angry to reflect the feelings of the counselee back and therefore validate them.
As you can see, these issues are important to both counselor and counselee. You have to be on the same page, have the same understanding about who you are and where you came from. This is not always possible, but you must make clear to the counselee that if he or she consents to counsel with you that you will always be coming from that viewpoint.