Biblical Counseling Major #MajorMonday
A program that prepares individuals, including but not limited to, ordained clergy and other counseling professionals to respond to the emotional and/or spiritual needs of patients and families in health care emergencies and other situations, and to consult with and counsel other health care professionals. Includes instruction in advanced interpersonal communication; individual and small group counseling; interdisciplinary teamwork; crisis management; extended care relationships; self-analysis; medical ethics; pastoral care art; spiritual dimensions of human growth and health; counseling psychology and therapy; and applications to grief, death, emotional collapse, injury, individual/family adjustment, and chronic illness situations.
Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of Boy Scouts, once said, “If you make listening and observation your occupation, you will gain much more than you can by talk.” Counseling, especially biblical counseling, may be the best combination of these ideas– to listen, observe, and help.
Pat Miller, the department chairwoman for Biblical Counseling at Calvary Bible College, Kansas City, MO, says one of the five objectives – those specific results – includes students “developing communication skills needed for counseling one-on-one and in small group situations.” The other four objectives for students are the ability to articulate a biblical philosophy of counseling, demonstrate the Christian character qualities necessary for a biblical counseling ministry, acquiring a basic knowledge of the counseling process, and identifying people’s problems.
Miller says there are 50 students majoring in Biblical counseling. “Those students who succeed have a heart for people. They are encouragers and helpers. Often they have experienced struggles of their own. These students realize that it helped them to have God and good counselors on their side. They are dynamic and great people who simply want to help,” she explains. Miller started at Calvary in 1994. She has a master’s degree in Biblical Counseling and is a certified member of the American Academy of Biblical Counselors.
“Students who succeed in this major are learning to do research. They are gaining good communication skills and building relationships with people,” Miller says. “Some of my majors are involved in the college theater program too. Students succeed because they are comfortable with themselves. They also have the confidence in the basics of strong communications, writing skills, good study habits, and how to manage their time effectively.”
When freshmen arrive on the campus, Miller meets with them and begins building relationships with them. “They are scheduled to complete their general education courses, but by the fall of their second year, they take the introduction course. We want students to get some of the foundation courses and Bible studies in.” The major consists of courses in youth, crisis, and marriage and family counseling.
The major also includes 16 electives. Over the years the electives have included Death, Dying and Grief, counseling depression, addictions, non-traditional families and more. Right now, a set of electives looks at human trafficking, human trafficking intervention, and transformation and restoration for those affected by human trafficking. “This three-part concentration allows students to look for internships where they can aid those in human trafficking.” Another concentration is on addiction.
Other classes that examine current issues may be on suicidal ideation, self-harm, and self-worth, Miller says. “We want to be flexible and current. Our topics are relevant, but the teaching is not built on fads; lessons are based on God’s word. This is a biblical perspective,” she explains. All seniors are required to do an internship as well.
Miller says about a third of the students head to graduate school, including seminary. “The students are able to compete with other students. We also have graduates head to camps, youth homes, mission’s trips, and pregnancy crisis centers. We have chaplains and nurses. Many graduates pair the major with other majors. A great percentage of my students want to work with teens and counseling youth is a required class.”
Counseling is a work of heart. “There is heart work for the counselor and the one being counseled. The bonus is to bring honor and glory to God,” Miller says. The college has 10 professors teaching courses including adjuncts who are in the counseling field. “Using God’s word as a source offers a unique set of support systems that can save a life and provide hope. That is the attitude of the entire department and we will help our students succeed so they can pass on this training.”
Senior Blinda Bielenberg will graduate in May. “When I got to Calvary from the middle of Iowa, I spent a semester as a music major. As I was living in the dorm, girls were coming to me for help and advice. I come from a larger family and my role has been as the peace maker.” She’s been the resident director of the dorm for two years now. “It’s a hands-on experience with what I am studying as I help girls with their issues.” She also works part-time at a local Hy-Vee store and as a nanny.
Bielenberg says Calvary professors have invested in her. “They take the time to talk or help counsel me as well.” As a matter of fact, she acknowledges that the Intro to Counseling course confirmed that she made the right choice in changing majors. “The Group Counseling course also resonated with me. It’s a small class that is personal and a chance to work hard. It was also a chance to learn how to be compassionate and loving.”
Being able to add her faith to her education is critical, Bielenberg says. “I firmly believe in the power of scripture. I believe that God will use me in counseling.” Bielenberg was homeschooled and coming to college required her to locate the campus learning center. “I had to learn time management. I will take a year off and then pursue my master’s degree. I want to be part of a counseling center or a church group. I then want to enter marriage and family counseling. It goes back to my family. I am one of 13 children and I know that we worked well together when we sat down and talked out problems. It’s so important to have the family together especially in the light of the high number of divorces.
For students looking at counseling and especially biblical counseling, consider this major, she says. “It’s practical skills. Even if someone wants to be a pastor or teacher, it is a major that offers the ability to learn how to talk to and help people. My listening skills have gotten better. I listen more and let others talk more. I have learned to show more grace rather than judging.”
Don’t just get a degree… develop your calling. Calvary will prepare you professionally and spiritually for the unique plan God has in store for you.
To learn more about the Biblical Counseling program at Calvary Bible, visit their website. If you are interested in attending Calvary Bible College, visit their school page to learn more about their campus and degree options.