First Read This
Biblical counseling is the sharing of God's Truth for life with hurting people for the purpose of change. It is, essentially a form of intensive discipleship that pastors, laypersons, ministry leaders can learn in order to make God's Word come alive for people by meeting them in their struggles. If that person doesn't know the Lord, it is also a highly effective way of sharing the Gospel. Biblical Counseling goes beyond the very important steps of sharing God's Word and praying for someone, to include helping that person understand how biblical truth applies to them in the circumstances they face. It glorifies God as He begins to work in their life, often in what seems like miraculous ways.
There are two types of biblical counseling:
- Formal Counseling is biblical counseling as a specific ministry of the church. Hurting individuals in the church or the community may schedule appointments to meet with a certified biblical counselor—generally on the church property in a neutral setting. The meetings are much like in psychological counseling, occurring for a fixed period of time (usually one hour) each week, although providing biblical support might mean interaction outside of these guidelines as well. Generally, there are admitting forms required to establish expectations and legalities, a personal data inventory to complete, and homework given each week for the counselee to complete. Generally, a biblical counselor serving in this setting commits to serving on a particular day at certain times each week, much as with any formal ministry in the church. This is a structured discipleship approach and requires the counselors be certified, or in the final stages of certification.
- Informal Counseling is what every biblical believing Christian can and should be ready to conduct in every interaction with hurting people—whether at church, at work, in the home, parenting, friendships, neighbors, etc. There are no fixed times to meet and in fact the “counselor” may only see the “counselee” once. Frequently, informal counseling takes the form of 2-3 hours in one sitting, with further communication as desired or led by the counselee. There is no intake form, personal data inventory, or case notes. Homework may or may not be given, as a suggestion.
The Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC) is considered the "gold standard" of biblical counseling certification. Many organizations provide training toward certification toward certification, a process that typically take from 2 to 3 years. The steps, some of which can be completed concurrently, are:
- Read the Standards of Doctrine, Standards of Conduct, Constitution, Policies and Procedures to make sure you can abide by each.
- Attend (in person, online, or at a conference) one of the many qualifying training courses, which range from free to several hundreds of dollars.
- Complete the required amount of readings from the approved reading list.
- Observe counseling via approved DVD or live
- Complete the open book Theology Exam
- Complete the open book Counseling Exam
- Make application $100 and include Pastor/Elder evaluation, Colleague evaluation, church membership letter.
- Conduct 50 hours of counseling under the supervision of a Fellow $500