This clip angered me, but on reflection I found it left me saddened and frustrated as well. Bowden represents all that I object to most about "christian" counselling. Firstly, it is very easy for anyone to set themselves up as a self-appointed expert in areas of mental health. In some christian counselling, especially from a fundamentalist christian perspective, a lot of ignorance and assumptions based on religious ideology underpin the approach. The bible has much to offer us in terms of wisdom and perception, but it cannot be applied as a science textbook or a substitute for proper medical and psychiatric knowledge or training. Some christian counselling and ministry relies on ideas about demon possession which belong firmly in the dark ages.
Secondly, what masquerades as christian ministry is often a form of emotional, psychological and spiritual abuse. I do believe that a fair amount of christian counselling is about controlling other people and exerting power over them. There may be a disproportionate emphasis on certain concepts - such as the imperative to immediately forgive others or a focus, as in Bowden's approach, on how the sinfulness of the person counselled led to their situation. I have not had christian counselling or therapy myself, but I have met those who have and heard some horror stories about how, if they did not respond as the counsellor required, they were told this was due to a lack of faith or a rebellion against God.
Bowden accuses the depressed of being arrogant, proud and self centred. Is this true of depressed people? Well, if it is, I would say that it is no more true than it is of someone who is not depressed. Pride and self- obsession are common to most of us, including christian counsellors! It is true that people do need to engage with therapy in order for it to be successful and some individuals are not willing, or perhaps not able to do so, but those who are depressed are generally in need of help! To call depression inverted pride is not, I think, helpful, and it does run the danger of stigmatising those who suffer from mental health problems.
As someone who was sexually abused I briefly considered christian counselling, Thankfully, after a few enquiries and reading some materials, I decided against this. My secular counsellor treated me as an adult with dignity and respect. I never felt coerced or stereotyped. This gave me the confidence to truly explore and try to make sense of past experiences for myself and later to understand what had happened through the lens of my faith as well. I am sure that there are good christian counsellors, but I am afraid that I am probably a bit prejudiced and would never, never go for specifically “christian” counselling for anything like abuse, trauma, sexual issues or depression - in fact, not for anything. My advice is to steer clear and IF you go to any counsellor of whatever ilk and feel you are not treated with dignity – leave! One in three of us suffer from some kind of mental health problem at some point in our lives and deserve proper and professional treatment, not to be damaged at the hands of those who are themselves arrogant, ignorant and egotistical.