In his theory of Christian counseling, Adam gives an approach that is theoretical by arguing that the word of God has the ability to make any person wise for the sake of salvation. This presents a model that teaches, corrects and convinces Christians to uphold biblical teachings on their way to salvation through service of God and demonstrating love to their neighbors (Adam, 1986:12).The theory as well as its entire process is built on the pedestal of sufficiency and the primacy of scripture. This serves as the foundation of Christian counseling and must be valued by Christian counselors.
Adam’s theory has elicited a host of reactions from Christian counselors due to the evident weakness as well as strengths that it has with regard to the process of dispensation of Christian counseling. This paper seeks to analysis the extent to which Adam’s theory is valid as well as the evident errors it manifests in the entire process of Christian counseling.
Critique of Jay E. Adam’s Theory of Biblical Counseling
Adam’s model is analogous to the therapeutic process of counseling where the goal of salvation as well as the importance of change of Christian is the main focus. This is indeed a major contribution to Christian counselors who make extensive integration as well as cognition guided by the bible. Arguably, it is an approach that does not sustain the notion of non Christian in their pursuit for change due to the underlying factor that non Christians have the inability to picture their destined fate in the eyes of God.
Accordingly, Adam’s Christian counseling emphasizes on the fact that God, through Jesus Christ, brought redemption to mankind and the blood of Jesus Christ, as argued in Ephesians chapter one, facilitates the continuous forgiveness of sins and growth of Christian in grace (Adam, 1986). It is plausible to argue that Adam’s theory possess posses both spiritual and theological foundation as it proposes an innovative approach to counseling which dwells on the Judeo and Christian faith.
However, the major errors that Adam’s theory typifies underlie the assumptions of theology. As a result, Christian counselors can only use the scriptural approach only when they are dealing with believers. This definitely contradicts the transformational objective that the theory advocates for because, both the believers and non believers in the society should be guided through a change process towards God; a factor that ultimately brings about the effect of a satisfied person. By using the discriminating angle of sing scripture to only Christian, Adam proposes tat Christian counseling is not comprehensive.
In addition, Adam holistically builds his approach in an isolated way from the teachings of Jesus Christ. He argues that if counseling depends on the truth, then such truth is inherent in the Bible (Adam, 1986: 39). Accordingly, this gives a Christian counselor a leeway to challenge the psychological paradigms in a bid to base the counseling approach on such understanding. With regard to this, the word alone is unable to capture a number of dilemmas that are evidenced during psychotherapy. It therefore follows that Christian counselors are limited to dealing with clients who have addictive behaviors. From this conception, Christian’s counselors have the pertinent role to handle their clients in a way that they will efficiently use the scriptural background to understand themselves as well as structure a concise schema for change.
On the other hand, Adam provides alternative plans that can be incorporated with the Bible to facilitate a counseling session. Such approach is prayer and critically, prayer has therapeutic effects since, it restores hope to a client who may be on the verge of giving up. Another alternative include nouthetic counseling which emphasis on the need for Christian counselors to be born again. As such, a person is deemed born again if they agree to the fact that they are sinful and according to Adam, Christian counselors should use there important elements of sanctification, evangelism and edification in their whole process of counseling. In view of this, Adam prescribes four steps that should be followed which include teaching, correction, conviction as well as training the client to be disciplined in the line of righteousness (Adam, 1986: 12-14).
It is critical to note that Adams theory of biblical counseling leaves Christian counselors to their own devices. In other words, they have to use their discretion in a bid to establish a therapeutic relationship with their clients; a factor that is characteristic to the uniqueness of every counseling session well as therapeutic processes. This is evidently a strength that Adam’s theory provides because, counseling session in light of this will be based on trust hence paving way for the client o open up and dedicate themselves towards the path of maturity in Christianity as well as dealing with their emotional and behavioral issues.
To reinforce and justify his argument of nouthetic counseling, Adam argues that not all transformation yield positive results. However, through this alternative, transformation has to be consistent, with the principle of the bible because the underlying factor in Christian counseling the goal is growing towards God (Adam, 1986: 17). With regard to this, Christian counselors are positioned as therapists who teach the client to become morally sound and more dependable on god that any other person. A counselor thus guides the client away from themselves and closer to God; something that may not be the primary need of the client. It is evident that Adam’s theory fails to appreciate that some clients need emotional support without any connection to spiritual gain. If Adam’s approach is used to such clients, the results of counseling may end up being devastating.
Adam’s theory equally stresses on that counselors should be ready to learn more from their counseling sessions. Definitely, a faithful servant of God uses the passages in the scripture to think through the implications of their therapeutic practice thus getting an opportunity to learn more from their experiences with clients (Adam, 1986: 54). This moves away from the conceptualization that scripture alone may not suffice such a dispensation and the final goal of counseling should not be converting the client to higher levels of Christian growth. However, it is important for every Christian counselor a holy definite moral standards so that to be able to articulate all these issues.
It follows that the path of change is not easy as it sounds. On ground of this conceptualization, Adam argues that Holy Spirit plays a significant role in the whole facet of biblical change. Arguably, the client is enabled to change within the right precincts so that all issues relating to God may be obeyed and affected by the client.
Adam’s theory of Christian counseling succeeds in facilitating a theological foundation that guides how Christian counselors should approach the whole question of biblical counseling. It emphasis on the faith-based objectives where, in addition to addressing the client with their behavioral and emotional problems, they benefit from the inclination of growth in Christ that Christian counseling takes. The primacy of the scripture is equally appreciated thereby contributing to the success of Christian counseling. Although the theory fails to address the needs of non believers who are not ready to take part in the journey of salvation, it sufficiently addresses important components that counseling in the Christian nature takes. Such approach includes integrating prayers and following steps that teaches, convinces, corrects and empowers the client to lead a fulfilling Christian life.
Adam, J (1986).Helping People to Change: A Biblical Process. New York: Zondervan