Should I counsel couples individually or together?

Whether we are speaking about married couples or any other individuals who are having difficulties with one another, it is always proper to deal with everyone together. Why is that? For several reasons, all of which are biblical.

First, you should not speak about another behind his back. James 4:11, instructs us, "Brothers, don't speak against one another; whoever speaks against his brother or judges his brother speaks against the law and judges the law." How is that? The Old Testament in many places forbids gossip, slander and the like. If one disregards the law in this manner by engaging in these things, in effect, he declares the law unimportant, wrong, or something of the sort. He "speaks against the law and judges the law!"

Now, not only does the Bible forbid tale bearing and slander, Proverbs 18:17 shows how foolish it is to do counsel one party alone. If you counsel with one, the other is not there to respond to what he says and give his view of the matter. Proverbs warns that when the first speaks he can seem most convincing until the second comes to examine him. Why would a counselor wish to counsel when another was not present to supplement, alter or otherwise change his perception of the events by giving his interpretation? It makes no sense to listen to two biased or distorted stories, and then try gleaning the truth from these two widely differing accounts.

When both parties are present, commitments made by one or both are known to all. Otherwise, the one not present may fail to learn about them or only receive a distorted report. And if one or the other person seeks forgiveness, etc., the other is on the scene to grant it.

There is every reason, then, to invite all invite all who are involved in a problem to be present at every session. It is foolish not to do so.

Jay E Adams

Institute for Nouthetic Studies

100 White Meadow Ct
Simpsonville, SC 29681

(864) 399-9583

 

         

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