It can hardly have escaped anybody's
Among the many and dramatic changes which our society has
experienced during the last few years has been the shift into a
counselling and therapeutic culture.
Numerous articles have been written about this new approach to
the problems of hurting people. Some psychologists have expressed
alarm, but others have welcomed the changes as being one of the
manifestations of the development of a more caring society.
But is our 21st century society with its newly arrived army of
therapies and counsellors really more caring?
Today we see masses of counsellors of almost every hue; there are
marriage counsellors, there are bereavement counsellors, there
are job change counsellors, there are road accident counsellors,
there are Christian counsellors, there are post-abortion
counsellors and I am told that there are now even 'pet loss
This shift into what we might call 'counsellism' has often
greatly amused older people who, in their younger days, just had
to steer their own course through life's problems without any
access to psychological help!
We now even witness former policemen attempting to sue their
previous employers because in the past they witnessed serious
road accidents or horrible crimes, yet were offered no
'counselling' at the time! Former soldiers too are starting to
complain bitterly because of the trauma which they experienced in
various armed conflicts. They complain that there lives have
never been the same again since these experiences,
therefore...somebody must be to blame!!
And here we see one of the biggest effects of our therapeutic and
counselling culture: there is a loss of the desire to shoulder
individual responsibility - somebody (it seems) must always be to
blame for ones problems!!
Vancouver-based psychology writer Tana Dineen who wrote
Manufacturing Victims , says that the problem is that
psychology has now decided to break free from its traditional
role in order to be a decider of moral issues:
The problem, Dineen said, is that psychology now steps far
outside its area of expertise -- genuine, definable personality
disorders -- to pontificate on all the issues of human life. "I
keep seeing psychologists taking larger and larger roles,
commenting on everything from child rearing and spanking to moral
and legal issues, with no real knowledge base," she said. For
Dineen, Psychology has no expertise in moral issues which it
should leave alone. And when psychologists pronounce on social
issues such as spanking and child murder, they do so without any
real evidence. Yet, despite constant warnings from psychologists
like Thomas Szasz (The Myth of Mental Illness) and Paul Vitz
(Psychology as Religion), the public still accepts its authority.
"It's become a very arrogant profession, abusing its power,"
(Source: 'Our Therapeutic Culture', The Website of Tana Dineen.
This therapeutic and counselling culture is beginning to have a
dramatic effect on young law-breakers. No sooner, it seems, do
they commit a major crime, than an army of the new 'clinical
psychologists' arrive on the scene explaining why the crime
could not have been the young person's fault!! Oh no! It
is asserted that the fault lies with society, the child's
parents, the child's schooling - the desire always appears to be
to blame anybody rather than the actual culprit!! As more and
more educators and writers are beginning to note, this is
effectively teaching young people that it is perfectly acceptable
to dodge responsibility and to blame others for ones own
I recently watched a BBC television documentary about a young
man's slide into violent crime. This young man, whom I won't
name, is currently serving life imprisonment for double murder.
The program set out to explain how an apparently pleasant child
turned into a violent criminal. Who was to blame? As soon as I
noted that the question, 'Who was to blame'? was going to be
asked, I already knew that excuses were going to be made for a
lad who was plainly old enough to be personally responsible for
his actions! The next question which the program set out to
answer was whether the parents were to blame. Again, I quickly
felt that the father would be held accountable. Of course,
parents do have some responsibility for the way their
children grow up, and fathers a particular responsibility, but I
am sure that I am not the only one to have noticed that suddenly
fathers are almost always more smeared than mothers in this
regard, whatever the facts.
Well, in this particular case, my suspicions were certainly
proven correct. It would not be wholly fair to say that the
program said that the young man was in no way responsible for his
horrific murders, but the finger of true blame was certainly
After cataloguing and detailing some of his childhood and youth
experiences, a 'clinical psychologist' was brought into
the program, apparently to decide and apportion the fullest
measure of blame for this young man's evil acts. I was a little
stunned (but hardly surprised) that the clinical psychologist was
a very young lady, certainly far too young to have raised, or
probably even started, her own family; therefore whatever
academic qualifications she may have attained, her knowledge of
the real, day-in day-out world of child rearing, that knowledge
which can only come through sheer experience, was going to be
sparse to say the least. I also noted that the pronouncements of
this mere slip of a girl appeared to be awaited in a somewhat
surrealistic atmosphere of reverence and awe (ammunition indeed
for those who claim that psychologists have become our new 21st
century priests and priestesses!!)
This female clinical psychologist squarely blamed the father for
his son's lapse into violent crime. On what basis? Because the
father had administered physical discipline in the form of
smacks, or 'spanking', while his son was young, and plainly often
rebellious. The father stated that the severity of his punishment
was always dictated by the seriousness of his son's misbehaviour,
but upon discovering that the father had applied such physical
punishment, this very young clinical psychologist had no
hesitation in asserting that the father had taught his son
violence and was the prime reason the son had become a violent
The staggering thing was that no blame was attached to the mother
although she had thrown her son out of the family home at age 16,
and she was now, apparently, nowhere on the scene. The father, in
complete contrast, had wept over his son, had reasoned with him,
had reluctantly handed him over to the police when he knew the
youth had done wrong (which most would say was a very decent,
brave and courageous act), and had visited him in prison. Despite
all of this father's obvious love and loyalty to his crininal
son, he was squarely blamed for the child's criminality, because
he had once applied physical punishment to an obviously difficult
and rebellious child!!
The young lady who applied such flawed moral reasoning (never an
area of concern for traditional psychology), seemed blissfully
unaware that physical, corporal punishment was the norm in the
home for countless earlier generations, and so, according to her
reasoning, all these previous generations of children should have
become violent criminals!!
The truth, of course, is exactly the opposite: the threat and
possibility of corporal punishment taught children respect for
authority, and was one of the surest insurances that the child
would grow up into a decent law-abiding person!
But in the wake of this counselling and therapeutic culture with
its often complete distortion of moral values (for example,
abortion is acceptable, so is homosexuality, but to accept
personal responsibility is to be avoided at all costs!), what
should the Christian response be?
I am actually quite disturbed that more and more professing
believers in the Christ are selling out to all the underlying
philosophies of the counselling and therapeutic culture!
This new psychological approach to human problems actually
teaches its own subtle 'gospel'! - the message is, 'Be happy
and contented - you owe it to yourself. Whatever your problem,
there is a therapy and counselling scheme out there to help you.
No longer any need of guilt, fear or anxiety - get the therapy
Of course, one of the main reasons that people feel guilt and
anxiety is because of a sense of individual and personal
responsibility, but this new approach to human problems appears
to preach an approach of, 'shift the responsibility and
Now, while it is never wrong to seek help for one's problems, of
whatever nature, we should be aware that this whole approach is
very different to the approach toward hurting people which we see
outlined in the Holy Bible!
Let us notice how personal responsibility for wrongdoing is never
avoided in biblical teaching:
'The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt
of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The
righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the
wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself'
Here we see the clear teaching of personal responsibility for
whether one does good or evil in life. Why do people 'hurt'?
Because of the events which occurred in the Garden of Eden a very
long time ago. Of course, all of us 'hurt' to some extent and at
various times because we live in a world in which men and women
decided to define right and wrong for themselves without the
benefit of the Lord God's directions (Genesis 3:5,22).
The solution to this world's ills is to be found in Jesus Christ
- In Him there is complete peace. Does this mean that believers
will never hurt? Unfortunately no, because even as believers we
cannot be unaffected by the societies in which we still have to
live. For instance, it often hurts us when we see those we love
bring harm on themselves by their sinful path in life. Since we
have the Holy Spirit, we are also constantly frustrated in many
areas of life because we are continually dealing with people,
events and circumstances which totally ignore the Eternal God!
This is bound to be often annoying and frustrating for us.
Therefore, for the present, Christians too can often 'hurt', and
even scream at injustices. But - for our part - we can see that
various God-denying psychological schemas which unconverted men
and women come up with, are not the answer! The complete
and full attainment of psychological peace still lies in the
future within the New Heavens and New Earth. So Christians know
that life will bring many trials and disappointments but - as
believers - we understand why the world is currently the way
So our own approach should be to comfort those who hurt and, as
we gain their confidence, to point firmly in the direction of
Jesus Christ and the sufficiency of Christ's grace, and His
perfect Law of Love as the solution (one might think that this is
what 'Christian Counsellors' would do, but I am continually
alarmed and disappointed by reports we receive here that many -
though perhaps not all - 'Christian counselling' courses have
very little to do with Christ, His gospel or the reality of sin,
but everything to do with modern psychology. Several have told us
that they have left such courses in disgust when it became plain
that only the most liberal form of Christian teaching was
We should not be in the business of encouraging people to dodge
responsibility or to blame others or to seek so-called
'professional counselling' as much as we should encourage
them to seek the Living God!
The day will dawn when all will realise that all the therapies
and all the counsellors have built their foundations on nothing
more than sand! Freuddid not have the answers as to
why people suffer upon this planet and neither do an army of
counsellors who do not acknowledge the authority of the Living
So am I saying that we should never seek the help of a
'counsellor'? Absolutely not. But I am saying that we might be
simply travelling around in circles if we don't have the
SUPREME COUNSELLOR at the center of our lives!
'...And His name will be called Wonderful, COUNSELLOR, Mighty
God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace'
(Isaiah 9:6 b, my emphasis)
'And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there
shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying; and their shall
be no more pain, for the former things have passed
Robin A Brace
© This article is Copyright Robin
A. Brace 2003. If you want it on your own website please do the
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The reader of this article may also wish to read:
JUST SPIRITUAL BLINDNESS
COUNSELLING COURSES ; JUST FINE?
ARE WE MANUFACTURING VICTIMS?
PSYCHOLOGY; SCIENCE OR RELIGION?
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