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Curing the heart - a model for biblical counseling (Book Review)

winter 2004

From triple helix - winter 2004 - Curing the heart - a model for biblical counseling (Book Review) [pp18-19]

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Curing the heart - a model for biblical counseling - Howard Eyrich and William Hines - Christian Focus Publications 2002 - US$15.99 Pb 204pp - ISBN 1 85792 722 2

'Biblical Counseling' (sic) is greatly influenced by Jay Adams, founder of 'nouthetic' counseling, which has core principles of 'confrontation, concern and change'. The 'cure' in this model is not necessarily to reach a stage of 'feeling better' (p58), as 'the chief problem to be dealt with is a severed relationship with God'. The primary goal is therefore 'for people to become more Christ-like' (p157), not to 'rebuild a... wounded personality' nor to 'help [clients] perceive themselves as a person having worth'(p162).

Eyrich and Hines outline two premises. Firstly, the root of the 'counselee's' problems is sin. Secondly, Scripture is sufficient to deal with all problems. The only reference to persecution relates to the counselor rejected by a client. One of the flaws of this approach is the risk of our shortfalls becoming red herrings in the counseling process. Proverbs 30:6 is used to warn against adding to God's Word 'with other traditions or modern theories'. I would suggest, however, that common grace allows even secular studies to contain gems of knowledge about how we tick. A checklist of problems given in a form to be worked through with a client seems arbitrary and haphazard, and problems 'with a physiological cause' are to be taken 'elsewhere', although there is no guidance as to which symptoms might suggest a physiological cause. The 'homework' task recommended for depression, would be near impossible for anyone with an affective disorder.

This guide is poorly structured, wearisomely repetitive and contains such mind-numbing statements as 'the age of the counselee can be an important indicator of the person's maturity or lack of maturity'. I agree that 'obedience and true discipleship must come before happiness and contentment' and that the challenge not to short-change our patients/clients is vital. However, more compassion, humility and cognisance of human suffering are required than can be found in this book.

Reviewed by
Karen Palmer
Staff Grade Psychiatrist in Glasgow

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