How Do I Know if Specific Counseling is Any Good?
Our family car started doing something that terrified both of us. The engine would just turn off while we were driving down the road. We’d pull onto the shoulder in a panic, shift into park, turn off the car. All we had to do to get going again was to turn it back on. It would start right back up and run just fine until it mysteriously quit again.
It scared my wife because she didn’t want to be stranded along the road with our girls. It scared me because I could see this repair costing more than our car is worth.
We called our mechanic and drove it in just praying for a miracle: A cheap and fast fix.
A bit of background: I’m not too mechanical and I think certain mechanics see “sucker” and “boat payment” written on my forehead. I really don’t know if what they are telling me is the best, cheapest and fastest repair. My greatest fear is that they do a bunch of work and in the end replace the “computer” which takes a week and costs me $2,800.
I was pleasantly surprised when they fixed the car by replacing a sensor and everything cost me under $80. The repair was perfect since it was effective and efficient, and they were ethical.
Siang-Yang Tan, a psychologist, pastor, and professor at Fuller Seminary suggests that counseling and counselors be evaluated using the same three E’s: Effective, Efficient, and Ethical.
Effective – Does it work? Do the things they say make a lasting difference? Do the people they help get better or not? Is your time with them helpful? Notice that we aren’t talking about painful or difficult, only helpful.
Efficient – How long does it take? What sort of commitment does it require? Did the treatment require weekly sessions for seven years? Did it require 1 year of residential care? If you are comparing several effective therapies, it makes sense to use the one that is most efficient in terms of time and money.
Ethical – Does the therapy use methods of change that are supported by other trustworthy therapists? It’s possible to get someone to change through the use of fear, lies, and intimidation, yet these are not ethical ways of interacting. Ethics also include awareness of how the counseling matches to biblical and Christian world views. For example, use of pornography in therapy is un-ethical for Christian counselors. Use of methods or relationships which disagree with the Bible should impact the decision.
At Project Patch our process focuses on helping the families find counseling that is effective, efficient, and ethical. For some, this results in going to Project Patch Youth Ranch or the Family Experience, but it may also result in attending a community-based or other program.
We encourage you to ask questions, ask for references and take the time to make sure your counselor matches your needs.