Counseling is altogether a theological matter. Always, whether or not a given counselor recognizes that fact. All counselors deal with the same human problems to which the Bible speaks. By implication, they are either faithful or false. I am speaking in principle, of course. Because of sin and the varieties of grace, counselors and systems are more or less faithful, more or less false. Often common grace brightens up secular models and practitioners (though sometimes they are utterly false and wicked). Inevitably remnant sin dims biblical models and practitioners (though by the grace of God his children sometimes shine very brightly). Only Jesus was and is utterly faithful, rich and simple. You should aim to become a counselor who is more faithful and less false, who is full of riches and less impoverished, who is simpler and not simplistic or complicated. Aim to learn and to offer counsel that expresses Christ’s gaze and intentions, rather than any other framework for making sense of life.
Every counselor brings a “message”: an interpretation of problems, a theory that weighs causalities and context, a proposal for cure, a goal that defines thriving humanness. How does the message of biblical counseling compare with their messages? Simply consider what our culture’s other counselors do not say.
In other words, other messengers always counsel true to their core convictions. They counsel the same message that they live.
Christians can’t help but mention these things, and long to live within these realities. Even more, a Christian is never content merely to mention such realities to another, as if a troubled person simply needs the bare bones of didactic instruction. Like a skilled musician, you develop a trained ear. In every detail of every person’s story, you learn to hear the music of these often unmentioned realities. You help others hear what is actually playing. A relevant, honest pastoral conversation teaches another person how to listen, and then how to join the song. Need I say more? No one else is listening to what you hear. No one else is saying what you have to say. No one else is singing what you believe. No one else is giving to others what you have been given that you might freely give. Every person who “needs counseling” actually needs Christ’s unique message.