Moving from theory to practice is not a simple task. I had studied under a Biblical counselor in ministry, I had taken my classes, completed my coursework, and read loads of books. But the first time I had to sit across someone, by myself, and start a counseling case I was exceedingly nervous and felt desperate for direction. It wasn’t that I lacked philosophy and theology of counseling, but I was not comfortable in the method of counseling yet. Lauren Whitman knows all about this struggle and that’s why she has provided a guidebook for the beginning, middle, and end of counseling. A Biblical Counseling Process is the perfect practical guide all novice counselors will need.
When it comes to introductions to Biblical counseling there are plenty of volumes, with new ones being written nearly every year. Yet, when it comes to the actual practice of counseling there’s not a ton of help. Whitman’s book steps into the gap between theory and practice and provides a vital tool. Without offering a rote or programatic format to the beginning, middle, and end of counseling Whitman gives readers clarity and help. As a faculty member at CCEF, Whitman has, no doubt, being doing this very thing with students for years. She brings her years of teaching and guidance to bear as she was readers through the goals and strategies of each stage of counseling. She writes with both great insight and clarity to give readers more than basics, but in accessible prose.
The book is broken down in order to align with those three key stages of counseling: beginning, middle, end. Within each section five chapters give readers insight into the main goals of each stage and specific strategies for attaining those goals. Without offering up simplistic or formulaic advice, Whitman provides a framework for approaching these stages of counseling. “Guidance is not prescriptive,” writes Whitman. “It is not a set of rules that must be strictly followed.” A Biblical counseling process, she says, must be personal and adaptable, which requires that counselors get to know real people, with complex problems, and provide attuned counsel at an appropriate pace. Her ability to give guidance without settling for a step-by-step program makes this book a valuable tool.
Whitman’s guidance is very practical. It would be tempting to settle for theoretical guidelines, but Whitman gives case studies to help readers see the principles and strategies in action. She also offers up suggestions on how to structure sessions and how to close out cases. The concrete ideas and strategies feel like the kind of guidance a close mentor would give, the fact that Whitman achieves this through writing is a credit to her skill as both a counselor and author.
As a young counselor I desperately needed this kind of guidance. I was fortunate to have a mentor close at hand who could help me, but not everyone is blessed in this way. Whitman provides a vital tool for new counselors and A Biblical Counseling Process will serve as a mentor for many who are starting out. I highly recommend this book and anticipate using it in my own counseling training in the future.