Monday, 08 August 2016 13:41

Fundamental Principles of Counseling

Written by  Nancy Thomas
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I have been reminded about the TV show Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood and the kindness, love and safety it modeled. As licensed counselors and faith informed counselors, we hope to provide a safe place to explore our hurts, needs, and disappointments where one will find love, acceptance and compassion informed by the Holy Spirit.

Before knowing what I would write about today, it was not a mistake that I fell upon these verses from James 3:13-18 NIV:

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humil- ity that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambi- tion, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.

Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.


Therapy is not judgment or scolding where participants are talking at each other without seeking to learn, grow in wisdom, relationship or experience compassion. Much like Mr. Rogers was a model for my children, Carl Rogers (no relation to my knowledge) and his fundamental principles for the counseling relationship were models for me and many others entering the counseling profession. The principles are a metaphor for Christian love.


1. Unconditional positive regard - Clients are valued for themselves with deep and genuine unconditional caring. I like to think of it as accept- ing others as fellow children of God, regardless of whether they meet my expectations or follow my beliefs.


2. Congruence - Congruence in the counselor is being genuine. The closer our self-image and image we project are, the more genuine we seem to others and the more conscious we are of our reactions and motivations. We are aware of our humanity and failings without denial and toxic shame.


3. Empathy - Empathy is the ability to sensitively and accurately understand what others are experi- encing and to be able to communicate understand- ing correctly.  It is not sympathy. Rogers viewed others as essentially good, having an innate drive to be their best, given their gifts and talents, and he believed providing a safe and loving environment enhanced self-discovery. As a licensed profes- sional, I am required to
not discriminate against anyone who is different from me or my beliefs and values. As a Christian, my hope is that by working with others, my faith is exhibited throughout the session and others can grow spiritually, emotionally and mentally. Through the relationship of acceptance and support trust is developed, hope is ignited, barriers are torn down and growth is inspired among those who were suf- fering. With Jesus, all were touched and moved by this experience of grace and acceptance and a move- ment of love and forgiveness was ignited.

The Sunday I wrote this, the lectionary was on Luke 7:36-47 where Jesus was anointed by a sinful woman:


When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.

When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.”
Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But who- ever has been forgiven little loves little.”

If you don’t feel safe in counseling, it will be difficult for you to heal. Find someone who practices the principles of Mr. Rogers, Carl Rogers and shows the spirit of discernment with the Holy Spirit.

Last modified on Monday, 08 August 2016 13:59
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