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When Someone Asks for Help. By Everett L. Worthington, Jr. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVasity Press. 1982. 239pp.
Review by Song Cheng Hock, Adjunct Faculty, Counselling, BGST.

Can you or anyone be a competent people-helper? Since Robert Carkhuff’s optimistic conclusion in 1968 that people who were helped by peer counsellors did “as well as or better than” people helped by professional counsellors, there has been a flurry of books written on peer counselling. The more notable ones include Gary Collins’ How to be a People Helper and Larry Crabb’s Effective Biblical Counselling. The assumption of these books is unmistakable that everyone has the potential of becoming an effective people helper. 

Worthington’s book is based on such an assumption. An assumption is more accommodating than fact. It holds to a certain premise but it also allows room for differing opinions. Consistently throughout his book, Worthington reminds his readers that there are many ways of viewing and approaching a problem. They can be trained to become effective helpers but they have to recognise their limitations. It is not a fact that they can help everyone. People with severe problems still need professional help. His strongly cautions at the end of his book that “unless you already have extensive supervised experience at counselling others, you should not attempt to counsel people who are seriously disturbed" (p. 232). This is the underlying strength of the book.

The book is honest, upfront and unpretentious. It is written mainly for non-professionals and Worthington ensures that his proposed model of counselling remains free of complicated counselling jargon. However, that does not deter him from including a comparative study of Freud, Rogers, Skinner, Beck and Ellis with regards to their understanding of human drives and behaviour.  These psychological theories are used with the explicit purpose of enabling the reader to appreciate the relationship (not merely the differences) between biblical and psychological wisdom. But, he is not apologetic that his book is about Christian helping, which he defines as “helping that is done by a Christian who adheres to Christian assumptions, who relies on Christ as the centre of the helping relationship and who uses whatever knowledge God has revealed. Be aware that not every Christian does Christian helping" (p. 31).  That is, "findings of psychology" must be consistent with the higher truths of God's special revelation" (p.31).

Worthington notes the inadequacies of earlier publications of “how-to-help” books that tend to present more principles than concrete advice on the actual process of helping. He strengthens the book by providing verbatim accounts of actual counselling dialogue sessions and follow-up with helpful explanation of the process.  

Worthington’s model is easy to follow. It consists of 5 stages of understanding the person's problem, making the person rethink the problem, making an action plan, supporting the person’s attempts to change and following up to see whether changes happened and how they worked (chapters 9-12). While the process seems logical, it requires discipline to follow through the rudimentary skills of each stage. It is at this point that the reader may find the dialogues and detailed explanations a little overwhelming. This is inevitable as Worthington reiterates time and again that human beings are complex and there are no simple answers to a person’s problem. The best way to read the book is to mull over a chapter at a time or to work through it as one’s level of concentration allows. Although the book was written more than 20 years ago, the principles and working examples are still as applicable now as they were then. All aspiring counsellors should have this on their bookshelf as a reference manual.

CHAPEL NOTES

Chapel last week (30th June) was a Communion Service. Rev Ng Seng Chuan led the chapel and Mathews Abraham, our full-time student from India, shared from Matt. 14:22-23. 

Our Dean, Dr Quek Swee Hwa, will be leading chapel on 14th July.

NEWS BITS

  1. The Public Lecture, “Is Mentoring & Discipleship the Same?” by Prof James H. Houston was well-received on July 1st. The recorded lecture, with the Question & Answer Session, is available for loan (applicable only to library members or current students) or sale at BGST Library. Call us at tel. 63538071 to reserve or order a copy.

  2. Twelve used wooden pink study carrels (desks) are now for sale at $10.00 each. The sales will go towards our Building Fund. To purchase, kindly call the library.

  3. Self-Enrichment Courses. A selection of courses are offered as Self-enrichment courses and you may purchase them at the Library. These courses come with a manual and a set of CD audio or VCD, and the price is a fraction of our usual course fees.

New Courses in Term 3!

Students working towards the DipCS, MCS or MDiv are advised to note that the following required courses should preferably be taken when they are offered as class study or as video class. Note the following:

  •  CE 101, 3 credits. The Educational Ministry of the Church (starting July 6th, the next time this
    course will be offered will be in 2006). Lecturer: Dr Ng Peh Cheng  

  • NT 102, 3 credits. NT Foundations II (starting July 12th, next offered in 2005). 
    Lecturer: Dr Quek Swee Hwa. Tutor: Mr David Leong Wai Ying.  

  • OT 101, 3 credits. OT Foundations I (starting July 15th, next offered in 2006). 
    Lecturer & Tutor: Dr Philip Satterthwaite.

The following required & elective courses will also be offered as “video class” or “private study” and the dates of the tutorials in Term 3 will be according to the convenience of the students and tutors:

  • TS251, 3 credits. The Christian Spirit. Lecturer: Prof. James Houston. Tutor: Dr Quek Swee Hwa.

  • TS252, 3 credits. Christian Ethics. Lecturer: Dr Douglas Milne. Tutor: Dr Quek Swee Hwa. 

  • AT151, 1.5 credits. Christian Biography. Lecturer: Dr David Wong. Tutor: Rev Dr Daniel Chua.

  • AT152, 1.5 credits. Prayer: Traditions & Practices. Lecturer: Dr David Wong. 
    Tutor: Rev Dr Daniel Chua.

  •  AT252, 1.5 credits. Discovering Leadership. Lecturer: Dr David Wong. Tutor: Rev Dr Daniel Chua.

  •  CE 252, 3 credits. Building Strong Families in the Church. Lecturer: Dr Danny Goh. 
    Tutor: Dr John Lim.

Building Fund update on 6 July 204

A Blessed Birthday to ...

Mr Colin Goh  12/7

Mr Kok Kar Wing  13/7

Mr Tan Eng Beng  15/7

Mr Andrew Lee  16/7

Mrs Susan Chua  16/7

Dr Casey Chua  17/7

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