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“The New Christian Counselor: A Fresh Biblical and Transformational Approach”


In their book The New Christian Counselor: A Fresh Biblical and Transformational Approach, Hawkins and Clinton seek to explain counseling from a Christian perspective. They consider what it means to be a new Christian counselor. Additionally, the book makes a distinction between old Christian counselors and new ones. In the later chapters, the book evaluates how Christian counseling would approach certain matters such as human identity, addiction, and idolatry.

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Integration of Religion and Mental Health Counseling

The book highlights the relationship between these two disciplines. In the past, they were treated as mutually exclusive. However, Christian leaders must now realize the importance of mental health counseling in the modern world. Faith plays a critical part in healing when integrated into the therapeutic process (Hawkins & Clinton, 2015). The authors urge Christian counselors to stay updated with advances in research and treatment of mental health issues.

The goal of Christian Counseling

The main goal of Christian counseling is to help a person grow towards Christ. The role of a Christian counselor is to help a person work towards holistic growth. This growth is aimed at restoring the person to whom Christ intended them to be. People attending Christian counseling do so to undergo transformational change. The objective of this type of counseling is to help people improve their personal lives to align with God’s plans.

Process of Christian Counseling

Christian counseling mainly follows the cognitive-behavioral approach to counseling. This method involves recognizing and challenging unhelpful thoughts. Such thoughts include anxiety-inducing, overwhelming, and destructive ones (Hawkins & Clinton, 2015). Once a person acknowledges and challenges these cognitions, they can modify their thought process to be more helpful. Eventually, the person learns how to manage their thoughts and consequently their emotions, actions, and behaviors.

Components of Christian Counseling

The three most important elements of Christian counseling are the client, the counselor, and the triune God. God is part of the process because He has been invited. While the focus is on the client, the counselor is God’s junior partner. The authors describe Christian counseling as a collaborative process (Hawkins & Clinton, 2015). Other than these three, other components include the Word of God and a community to provide support.

Relational Dimension

Christian Counseling has a strong focus on relationships between a person and God as well as with others. It posits that people experience mental health challenges such as depression, anxiety, stress, and loneliness due to failing relationships. This is because relationships are such an important part of human existence that their collapse or dysfunction causes trauma. Therefore, one purpose of Christian counseling is to mend relationships to facilitate healing. Christian counseling also recognizes that healing does not happen in isolation. For a person to get better, they need to be surrounded by a community. The community could be members of the family, school, church, or neighborhood (Hawkins & Clinton, 2015). This community offers support and accountability as the person undergoes counseling. They are also a source of love, trust, and affirmation to motivate the person during the process.

Personal Responsibility

Christian counseling emphasizes the importance of taking personal responsibility for one’s actions regardless of the circumstances. For instance, sin drives people away from God, and consequently, they form attachments to worldly things, which result in issues such as addiction (Hawkins & Clinton, 2015). Emotional, psychological, and spiritual wellness will only come after a person acknowledges they need the help of the counselor to grow closer to God.

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Multimodal Approach

According to the authors, an understanding of human nature calls for a multidimensional approach. In essence, there are seven dimensions to human beings: behavior, affect, sensation, imagery, cognition, interpersonal relationships, and drugs/ biology (abbreviated BASIC ID) (Hawkins & Clinton, 2015). Counseling involves finding out which modality or combination of modalities is causing pain to the client. This approach acknowledges the complexity of clients’ issues and the possibility of multiple sources of problems.

Intersectionality Approach (Integration)

Christian counseling integrates concepts from Christianity and counseling. It is not a mash of ideas from the two fields. Instead, it is a careful blend that involves borrowing ideas from both disciplines. For instance, Christian counselors must abide by a professional code of conduct such as respect for client values, confidentiality, and seeking informed consent. They also use the Word of God and other scriptures to help their clients. Therefore, Christian counseling is distinguished from other types of counseling by this intersectional approach.


Hawkins and Clinton’s approach falls under the integration model. Their approach falls under this model because the authors seek to integrate concepts from both Christianity and psychology. Specifically, the approach taken by these authors constitutes interdisciplinary integration, which aims at assimilating psychology and theology (McMinn, 2011). The last main feature discussed in the section above is intersectionality, which means that Christian counseling is an interdisciplinary approach. The main strength of this approach is that it allows Christians to take research and science seriously. Consequently, they can reinterpret psychology and recognize God’s role in science.

The authors would not identify psychological issues apart from spiritual issues. Instead, they would say that the issues are more or less the same. This is because the book emphasizes the importance of a holistic approach to counseling that includes God, the counselor, the client, and the community. Essentially, the client is being asked to come as they are because they are not defined by their problems. Consequently, Hawkins and Clinton would not separate psychological and spiritual issues.

Psychological theory and research are important in the Hawkins and Clinton approach. They do not advocate for the use of the Scriptures only. Instead, they say that counselors should consult past research and relevant literature. They also urge Christian counselors to be updated on research and treatment. This shows that even though their approach is centered on religion, it values psychological theory and research. It does not dismiss science in favor of religion but instead, regards them as equally important.


As a counselor, I could apply certain concepts from Hawkins and Clinton’s approach. In the given scenario, the first concept I would apply is the cry of the soul (Hawkins & Clinton, 2015). This involves listening deeply to the said and unsaid words of the client. I would be attentive to my clients’ worries, hurts, and hopes. Being Christ’s ambassador entails identifying the troubles of my clients’ souls and helping them on their path toward healing. To do this, I must show spiritual and emotional vitality (Hawkins & Clinton, 2015). I must be in touch with God to guide others to Him. The second concept I would apply is the multimodal approach. My clients experience psychological pain (manifesting as a lack of trust, poor self-management skills, and inability to complete activities of daily living) when there is a dysfunction in a component of their personality or psychology. Therefore, to truly determine the source of the clients’ problems, I would need to look at all aspects of their lives including their surroundings, family, drug use history, and childhood experiences.

The third concept I would apply is the relational dimension. According to Hawkins and Clinton, healthy relationships with God and others are essential for a meaningful life. I would help my clients to mend relationships with their loved ones. I would also help them develop healthier attachment styles to prevent dysfunctional relationships. Healing is only possible with love and affirmation from a support system. The fourth concept I would borrow from the authors is the process of Christian counseling. Specifically, I would perform my role as explained by Gary Collins (Hawkins & Clinton, 2015). I would ensure that I am guided by the Spirit and deeply committed to being a servant of Christ. I would then apply my skills, abilities, and knowledge to help my clients realize personal, interpersonal, mental, and spiritual wellness. Finally, I would apply wisdom and humility in my practice as a counselor (Hawkins & Clinton, 2015). I would recognize that I am a vessel meant to bring my clients closer to the people God intended them to be. My role is to act as a link and during the process, I would remember never to center myself.

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In summary, Hawkins and Clinton explain how psychology and theology can be integrated. They say that Christian counselors should not be left behind as psychology advances. Instead, they should help people achieve transformational change. This involves tailoring a biblical approach to a client’s need to help them achieve personal growth. This form of counseling is triadic since it involves God, the client, and the counselor. Ultimately, the goal of Christian counseling is to model thoughts, emotions, actions, and behavior to resemble Christ.


Hawkins, R., & Clinton, T. (2015). The new Christian counselor: A fresh biblical and transformational approach. Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers.

McMinn, M. R. (2011). Psychology, theology, and spirituality in Christian counseling (Rev. ed.). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House.

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