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ss triple helix - spring 2003,  What Could I Say? (Book Review)

What Could I Say? (Book Review)

What Could I Say? - Peter Hicks - IVP 2000 - Price £9.99 Pb 305 pp - ISBN 085115381

Peter Hicks has set out to produce a handbook for the Christian lay counsellor or 'listening friend'. The result is admirable and would prove a valued resource for any caring Christian organisation or home. The first section is a short description of some of the major principles of Christian counseling. These are outlined in brief, easily read subsections such as, 'I sat where they sat', 'Make it easy to be honest', 'Don't judge'. Acceptance, listening, openness, empathy, care, confidentiality and thoughtfulness are all emphasised and combined with Christian spirituality.

The much longer second section addresses 71 life events and issues. Some, such as pornography, occupy only two pages, while others, such as marriage and bereavement are discussed more extensively on six or seven pages. Subjects addressed include singleness, single parents, sexual issues, divorce and parenting, as well as those less commonly considered such as change, disability and step families. Also selected are common medical problems such as depression, addiction, substance abuse, Alzheimer's disease, miscarriage and abortion.

There is no pretence to deal with anything in depth. Each section has a helpful but brief overview that is usually followed by a subsection on offering practical help, and another entitled 'What could I say?' A number of Bible references are given, relevant to each particular section. Many sections are concluded with a carefully selected list of useful books or Christian resources, as well as national secular and Christian agencies relevant to the problem.

The author does not attempt to solve the many ethical issues, but is to be commended on his encouragement to assume a distinctly Christian approach. If you are looking for radical or alternative insights, this is not the book for you. Rather, it is 'a safe pair of hands' for the lay Christian who wants to help. It would not be out of place on the bookshelf of a caring professional.

Reviewed by
David Child
General Practitioner in Birmingham

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