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Competent to Counsel: Introduction to Nouthetic Counseling (Jay Adams Library)

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  1,271 ratings  ·  65 reviews
A Classic in the Field of Christian Counseling Competent to Counsel has helped thousands of pastors, students, laypersons, and Christian counselors develop both a general approach to Christian counseling and a specific response to particular problems. Using biblically directed discussion, nouthetic counseling works by means of the Holy Spirit to bring about change in the p ...more
Kindle Edition, 330 pages
Published (first published May 28th 1970)
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Rick Davis
May 21, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a hard book to rate. Historically, Adams's work is very important. He was responsible for reclaiming the Puritan ideal of the pastor as counselor or "soul-doctor". By the 1960s, pastors had largely relinquished this role to "the professionals", and Adams led the way in undoing this abdication. There are many biblical principles in this book that are solid gold. Unfortunately, it also seems like Adams is very narrow in his application, seeing his method as the one right way to do things. ...more
Rock Rockwell
Oct 07, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: counseling
Nouthetic counseling training for laymen or pastors who have not been trained in this type of counseling. Bottom line: 1. Person communicates their problem; 2. You find the verse in the Bible to fix/address their problem/situation; 3. They repent/obey/agree/etc. to that Scripture and they are healed/fixed (OR) they reject/disobey/disagree/etc. to that Scripture and they are not healed.

The mindset is good for basing counseling on biblical principles, but it does not deal with people holistically
Mar 07, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Guess what? It wasn't that bad. I thought that Jay Adams did a good job of identifying some downfalls of modern psychology and mental health, mainly that too much emphasis is placed on the organic side of mental illness and not enough is given to personal responsibility. He also has some pretty practical ideas that can be utilized in a counseling setting. However, I did have some criticisms of the book. Adams seems to paint all of secular counseling with a broad stroke, and it is not very favora ...more
Jacob Aitken
One needs to steer a middle path in Adams. Contra to modern psychology, people are often screwed up because they really *are* in sin. Sin has consequences. It *does* darken one's judgment and the more one sins, the less like the image of god he reflects. This is Romans 1 plain and simple. No Christian can seriously dispute this.

What doesn't follow, however, is Adams' assertion that one is depressed *because* one is currently in rebellious, unrepentant sin. Here is an easy counter-example: when m
Dec 31, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The groundbreaking and pioneering manual on biblical/nouthetic counseling, this work was well researched at the time of its original publication. It continues to be useful. Built on a firm commitment to applying God’s Word and involving His Spirit in the work of formal counseling, Adams’s approach is hopeful and hope-filled.

Deficiencies primarily stem from reductionism (perhaps necessitated by the desire to be concise, pointed, and as comprehensive as possible) and Adams’s apparent agenda to rec
Ben Zornes
Jun 12, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: christian-living
In a day and age where "mental illness" is being medicated more and more frequently, and thus leaving Christians with the idea that counseling is best left to professionals, Jay Adams' book is like a glass of ice cold lemonade on a summer day, for those of us who have been insisting that the Bible should dictate and govern our approach to counseling. He advocates for, what he terms, a nouthetic approach to counseling. He derives this term from Scripture, as he states, "My method is presuppositio ...more
Samantha Griffitts
This is a pathetic attempt on the part of Jay Adams to take counseling captive and hold it hostage in the church setting at the expense of all other psychological interventions. Although I am a proponent of church-based counseling, I believe that church counselors should at least have an undergraduate degree in psychology and a graduate degree rich in both psychology and theology. One must also be willing to refer outside the church for individuals who require more thorough psychiatric evaluatio ...more
Terry Morgan
May 23, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I loved the first chapter of this book, but hated the rest. I found myself yelling (yes out loud) at the book as I was reading it. I have rarely seen a book start out so good, and so quickly become really bad.

Reading this book was part of a homework assignment in school. If I didn't have to finish reading it for the class, I very likely would not have finished it.
Nathan Schrock
Sep 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Adams gives a lot of counseling philosophy as well as practical advice. I can't agree with his basis of Covenant theology, but for the most part he makes his points from the Bible and his counseling philosophy seems very valid. A good read for anyone anticipates spending time counseling others, which is most active Christians.
Sep 07, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Nouthetic Counseling, of whom Jay Adams is the father, has potential to do great harm to those individuals seeking to address issues in their life in a Biblical manner. It is highly deceptive. Being Biblical in name only, It is nothing more than band-aid therapy. Adams claims that Scripture alone provides the only means by which to deal with life issues. If his theology had any merit to it, there would be no need for doctors or any other professionals. He discounts the fact that God has gifted p ...more
CJ Bowen
Mar 25, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A landmark in biblical counseling for good reason. Adams is at his best when dissecting alternative systems, and comparing them to the Bible. He shows that neither Rogerian nor Freudian methods think of man in anything like the way the Bible does, and thus their methods and goals are quite different from those of Scripture. Careful listening followed by direct, pointed application of Scripture is the heart of nouthetic counseling. When he defines the goal of the umbrella of nouthetic counseling ...more
Mar 05, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: discipleship
"The thesis of this book is that qualifiedChristian counsellors properly trained in the Scriptures are competent to ourselves--more competent than psychiatrists or anyone else." Page 18

This is an introduction to counseling using biblical principles. Rather than focusing on technique and procedures, it focuses on the biblical mandate to help one another and the encouragement and basic principles for Christian leaders and lay people to train themselves to counsel biblically.

He teaches that the Bi
Jul 09, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I found this material to be very legalistic and simplistic. Adams makes a good point that we need to address sin and hold our fellow brothers and sisters accountable. However, he fails to recognize the value of psychotherapy. This book is an outdated account of what psychotherapy is and represents.
William Duff
Jan 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theology
Not the most enjoyable read, but a very good book. I wish all Christians had at least as much belief in the sufficiency of Scripture as Jay Adams does. I hope this book will disabuse many Christians of the notions that poor mental health is behind every misbehavior and that pastors/Bible are not able to deal with "complicated, complex, psychological" problems.
Larry Taylor
Apr 05, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
all of jay adams' works are biblically, psychologically, and scientifically inept, wrong-headed, filled with bad theology and scientific error; in short, they are terrible.
Camille K.
A useful glimpse at conservative Evangelical reaction to American culture from the 1970s. It's more a primary text as the world into which I was born.
Tim Michiemo
Jun 10, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: pastoral, counseling
3.3 Stars

Jay Adams’ book, Competent to Counsel, is a landmark book in the field of biblical counselling. It is Jay Adams who paved the way for the biblical counseling movement as we know it today. And who proposed a biblical approach to counseling, nouthetic counseling, in opposition to counseling rooted in secular Freudian thought. Because of this book’s historic significance as a pioneer work, it is difficult to critique it while also honoring it. Honestly, I did not enjoy this book very much,
Valerie Romero
Jun 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
such a great book... while part of me wishes i could have read this years ago, the Lord knew i would only be ready for it at this point in my life <3 after being on the receiving end of those who have loved the Lord and His Word and encouraged and counseled me... i pray i could only grow to do the same. this book is a great foundation for a better understanding of how we love, help, and "bear with" each other. i've learned so much... now i pray the Lord would help me to use what i've learned.

Dónal Walsh
Dec 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent book, Jay Adams blazed a trail in Christian counseling returning counseling to the church and directing people to the Bible again as sufficient for counseling. At times things are overstated as Adams rightly demolishes Rogers, Freud and modern psychology. But given that he was a voice in the wilderness at the time, as most Christians had bought into the presuppositions and practices of psychology this is a great apologetic and help to Christians that they can indeed counsel and effe ...more
Beth Peninger
Originally I gave this title 4 stars. I am revising my stars to zero.

The reason I am doing so is that since reading this title, several things about my faith journey and expression have changed and I no longer subscribe to evangelical ideologies.

Additionally, I was trained to be a lay counselor using this bible-based (only) method and I have first-hand experience as a counselor and counselee that this method does more harm than healing, promotes toxicity, enables inequality between women and men
Jacob Rush
Helpful. It felt a bit simplistic at times; I also wonder how the insights of non-Christians like Friedman and Jordan Peterson might be harmonized with his system. Still, he rightly focuses on the fact that the main problem in counseling is *sin* that every man must repent and turn from. Don't coddle folks, don't avoid the issue—we are miserable because we disobey God, and we are happy when we by faith love and serve him.
Philip Rabon
Oct 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very detailed, helpful book on Christian counseling. He does a great job of simplifying the history of psychology and the harmful effects of modern psychology.

He gives great biblical insight into helping each individual become a better counselor. I highly recommend his book. It was thick at times, but I'm glad I invested time into this book.
Amy Adams
Mar 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A must read for all Pastoral Counselors

I am finishing my doctorate in Christian Counseling this month. Competent to Counsel is by far my favorite book I've read throughout my schooling. This book has given me confidence in my counseling sessions. Thank you Jay Adams!
Robert Dotson
Jan 14, 2020 rated it really liked it

I found this book very helpful and a wonderful resource for counseling in the future it will be a wonderful addition to my library and I look forward to referring to it time and time again so appreciative to God for leading me to it
Mar 24, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book does a well in accomplishing what it sets out to do, “...sketch the architectural preliminaries.” It left me with a few questions but overall a decide to read.
Dec 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I think this is a great book for Christians in beginning the journey of becoming a better Biblical counselor.
Mark Musatau
Apr 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great introduction to biblical counseling. To be complemented by further study.
May 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Aug 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very good outline of biblical counseling and problem solving.
Lew Jessup
Feb 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A must for every Christian or pastor or chaplain.
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Jay Edward Adams is a Reformed Christian author. He has written over 100 books and these have been published in sixteen languages.
He received a Bachelor of Divinity from Reformed Episcopal Seminary, a Bachelor of Arts in Classics from Johns Hopkins University,a Masters in Sacred Theology from Temple University, and a PhD in Speech from the University of Missouri.
Adams' book Competent to Counsel l

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