Discovery & discernment
Four counseling books
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Is It Abuse? by Darby Strickland: Strickland provides an extensive guide for counselors to identify and help abuse victims in the Church. Writing from years of experience, she shares stories illustrating different kinds of abuse (physical, emotional, sexual), as well as mistakes she made as a new counselor. The topic is heavy and complex, but Strickland uses categories like “arrogance” and “oppression” to describe the confusing dynamics of abuse and to show how the Bible applies in specific situations. The book includes lists of questions to help counselors identify abuse, instructions for creating a safety plan with victims, and advice on how to include church elders and local authorities in the process. Strickland reminds readers that Jesus offers real hope for abuse victims and their oppressors.
Caring for the Souls of Children edited by Amy Baker: In most cases, Biblical counselors should equip parents to counsel their own children. But in situations where that is not possible, counselors must know how to communicate God’s Word to kids. Counseling children can be tough—they have different developmental stages, different attention spans, and, compared with adults, different ways of articulating thoughts. But the same Biblical truths apply, and the counselor’s job is to build a relationship with the child and communicate clearly at his level. Chapters cover common problems that bring children and teens into counseling, like friendships, anger, and body or sexuality issues. The contributors suggest questions or activities for each age, and each chapter offers “A Word to Parents” whose children are struggling in that way.
Overcoming Bitterness by Stephen Viars: Learning how to lament Biblically is the first step to avoiding bitterness, writes Pastor Stephen Viars. His book takes a thoughtful, in-depth look at what the Bible says about bitterness, including bitter circumstances and the role of “bitter tears.” Bitterness appears frequently in Scripture, and Viars says it also appears frequently in people’s hearts, though they are often unaware. Drawing heavily from two Old Testament stories, Viars helps those struggling with bitterness and those living with bitter people to see what a God-honoring response in their situation should look like. This gospel-focused resource would be a valuable tool for a counselor to read with a counselee, using the discussion and application questions in each chapter for built-in homework.
Bumps, Babies, and the Gospel by Sarah Dargue: Amid their preparation during pregnancy, Dargue reminds expectant moms to prepare their hearts: “What we’re promised in the Bible is that, in the gospel—and indeed in Christ himself—we will find all that we need to prepare for parenting.” Her short book walks through Colossians, highlighting how Christ’s character and power give hope in the difficult and sweet moments of having a new baby. The book is refreshingly God-centered, asking moms to cultivate awe and worship and avoid complaining or discontentment. Dargue writes with compassion and empathy, sharing stories from her experience as a mother and providing encouragement at every step.
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