I believe that God is always present when I attempt to help another, and there is a role that only He can play. He came to set captives free and heal the wounds of the broken-hearted. I can’t do that in another individual, so I need to be dependent upon God who is always faithful. That notion is what separates Discipleship Counseling from all the secular models that exist today. Their models have only two players.
If you were in an emergency room and the monitor showed a flat line, the patient is dead. Secular counselors and their clients represent a flat line, because they have failed to acknowledge the presence of God. I don’t say that arrogantly or judgmentally. I share it out of a deep concern, because they have excluded the only One who can forgive them, give them new life and set them free. These people are dead in their trespasses and sins and desperately need the Lord. The counselors have no relationship with God, and they have no intention of helping their clients repent and believe in God.
The only relationship that secular counselors consider is the one they have with their clients, and most Christian counselors have been trained to follow their example. There are some things we can learn from them, even though only one relationship is acknowledged. They have learned from experience how to set boundaries and how not to be enablers, co-dependents, and rescuers. They have also learned pastoral skills like accurate empathy, congruence, genuineness, and concreteness, which are helpful when we relate to enquirers. But there is a completely different dynamic between professional therapists and their clients, and that which exists between God-dependent encouragers and Christian enquirers.
The fact that they charge a lot of money and we don’t charge anything is one obvious difference, but the real issue is the presence of God and that changes everything. Suffering Christians are not our clients that we are working with, they are God’s children, and He came to set them free. We have superficial knowledge of inquirers, but God knows everything about them, which is considerably more than what they know about themselves. In the spiritual realm, God wants to set them free, but the god of this world wants to accuse, tempt, and deceive them. Our role is to help the inquirer sort that out and choose the truth that will set them free.
For Spanish, see http://www.ficmm.org/blog