What is Nouthetic Counseling?

Updated December 2, 2022 · 2 Min Read

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Is Nouthetic Counseling considered Pastoral Counseling? The answer to that question depends upon to whom you pose the question. The term is a new one, as used professionally, but it is taken from a Greek word used by Paul in the Bible. It means to admonish. What is this type of counseling?

Defining the Term

The field of Nouthetic Counseling , according to Wikipedia, is a faith-based counseling method that repudiates psychology, on the grounds that it is secular and humanistic. They recognize the Bible as the only source for counseling methodology.

Development of the Field

Jay E. Adams is the “father” of Nouthetics. He wrote a book that laid the foundation for the method titled Competent to Counsel in 1970. He has since published other books that go further into his techniques, and has established a school, the Institute of Nouthetic Studies, to train his faith-based counselors. Other schools and organizations espousing the beliefs have arisen as well.

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How This Counseling is Different from Psychological Counseling.

These practitioners teach that, because Christ defeated and bound Satan after His death and resurrection, all problems faced by men today are caused by their own sinful natures. He has been criticized for this stance because it doesn’t deal with human emotions like grief. Criticism has even come from other faith-based counselors. Integrationists, for example, believe that God has revealed truth universally and that there is a place for science along with spiritual revelation in counseling methodology. That is a tenet firmly denied by counselors in Nousthetics. They cite the Apostle Paul’s teaching that all Christians should admonish one another.

The Nousthetic website quotes scripture supporting this and goes further to say that pastors should employ this technique as a part of their formal ministry.

There are three facets to the technique. The first is “Confrontation.” This is to be done strictly through scriptural principles. The second facet is “Concern.” The counseling is always to be done in a loving, family atmosphere and is for the benefit of the “counselee.” The third facet is “Change,” which comes only through God’s intervention.

What Education is needed to Become a Nousthetic Counselor?

One of the schools offering training, the Nouthetic Institute states that it is not certified. Counselor training is completed through online courses and videos. They are purchased individually and are self-monitored. There are no grades or submitted coursework; students progress through the lessons until they feel they are ready to become certified. The institute does not award degrees, but offers a certificate that documents the student’s participation in the course. After receiving their certificates, candidates for “certification” as professionals take training and serve a supervised term of counseling before being recognized by the “Association of Certified Biblical Counselors” or another certifying organization.

Compassionate Counselors, Inc. offers seminars and workshops in specific subjects, but does not have a comprehensive program. Morningstar Counseling Center offers a four-part program to “Elders, Deacons, Care-Givers/ Disciplers in the local church. People who take these courses will be “equipped to understand counseling/ discipleship issues from a biblical perspective.” Tuition for the courses varies by program, and there are fees associated with professional certification as well.

The National Association of Nouthetic Counselors does not recognize the American Psychological Association and is not recognized by them. Still, if you wish to practice Nouthetic Counseling, you can find several training organizations through Internet searches.

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