Secular agencies utilize a psychological approach in dealing with sin.

Secular agencies utilize a psychological approach in dealing with sin.

Gisela Pagan
MondayJun 27 at 8:35pm
Secular agencies utilize a psychological approach in dealing with sin. Lecture One of Week 7 (Brewers & Peter, n.d.) points out that secular psychotherapists view sin as a concept, not as wrong behavior. McMinn (2012) provides a psychological and Christian view of sin by stating two opposing theories of sin. Jay Adams argues that sin is the causal factor of all mental illness, whereas Albert Ellis believes that it is the concept of sin which is to blame for psychopathology. To put it another way, Adams sees the source of the problem as sin, and Ellis argues that it is how the client thinks about sin and reacts to it that creates the problem. Secular therapists view sin in terms of external attribution. This implies that the client’s sin is a disease and is a result of external circumstances beyond an individual’s control. The Christian viewpoint is that man is responsible for his sin, which is referred to as internal attribution, but also believes that he lives in a fallen, sinful world. In this sense, a Christian counselor’s stance, according to McMinn (2012) is in the middle of both internal and external attribution.

When sin is seen as a violation of God’s absolute law, as discussed in Lecture One of Week 7 (Brewers & Peter, n.d.), the Christian counselor can integrate faith into the therapeutic session and lead the client to confess, repent, and be transformed. This process entails helping the client to understand that he has the ability to make choices regarding behavior and is responsible and accountable. This style of counseling approach, if not permitted in a secular agency, poses a problem for a Christian Counselor. External attribution takes the responsibility off the client which eliminates accountability for his behavior and negates a need for repentance.

Lecture Two of Week Seven (Brewers & Peter, n.d.) points out that clients seek counseling because they feel that they have lost control of their lives. The secular counselor’s goal is to help them regain that control. Many times, this is not possible because the client does not have the willpower to change. The Christian counselor strives to do the opposite by helping the client understand that change is possible only through the power of God. If Faith integration is not allowed, a Christian counselor cannot present this powerful and life-changing truth to the client.

The goal of the Christian Counselor is to bring about in the client what Lecture Two (Brewers & Peter, n.d.) calls “godly sorrow” which is found in 2nd Corinthians 7:10. This type of sorrow helps the client to understand that his behavior has caused hurt to himself and others. Lasting change as presented in Lecture Two of Week 7 (Brewers & Peter, n.d.) is possible if a client is willing to confront and confess and receive God’s grace and forgiveness for sin.

McMinn (2012) presents several questions that Christian Counselors might ask themselves regarding confrontation. Should it be done and if so, when? Is confrontation helpful psychologically and spiritually for the client? McMinn (2012) firmly states that confrontation can be used in many circumstances. In Jim’s case, it is apparent that confrontation has not been part of the therapeutic process. He continuously exhibits irresponsible, unethical, and immoral behavior and expresses no remorse or assumes responsibility.

After 8 months, the counselor is very frustrated at Jim’s unwillingness to change. Lecture 2 (n.d.) confirms that a counselor has to have self-awareness of attitudes and the reasons for confronting the client. Anger or wanting them to feel guilty should never be the motivation for confrontation. For the Christian counselor, the ultimate goal is always redemption.

In Jim’s case, I believe the method that would be effective for confrontation is pondering used with empathic confrontation and followed by open-ended questions. There are times when you feel like you haven’t done anything wrong until you hear someone else say it aloud. It sounds a lot worse when someone else voices it. This strategy may work on Jim by slowly leading him to an understanding of his conscience (McMinn, 2012) and how his decision is not only hurting himself but all those involved, including young children who have been displaced because of his behavior. Asking open-ended questions will help the counselor guide Jim in understanding the dysfunctions in his childhood and how they have affected him as an adult. Open-ended questions can also help to build a rapport with the client if they display empathy and understanding. Having done all this, the counselor must still exercise great caution in not confronting the client too soon because it may cause the client to regress instead of progress.

Finally, confronting a client about his sin in an empathic way does not, as McMinn (2012) confirms deny the reality of the sin. Jim needs to know that although the burden of his sin is heavy, God is willing and able to carry his burden and transform his life.

Brewer, G., & Peters, C. (n.d.). COUN 506 Week Seven, Lecture One: Sin, Confession, and Redemption in Counseling. [PowerPoint]. Lynchburg, VA: Liberty University Online.

Brewer, G., & Peters, C. (n.d.). COUN 506 Week Seven, Lecture Two: Counseling Methods related to Confrontation and Confession. [PowerPoint]. Lynchburg, VA: Liberty University Online.

McMinn, M. R. (2012). Psychology, Theology, and Spirituality in Christian Counseling. Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

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Secular agencies utilize a psychological approach in dealing with sin.


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