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What is Nouthetics? From the New Testament Greek word noutheteō (νουθετέω), which may be translated “admonish”, “warn”, “exhort”, or “instruct”. Thus the word “nouthesia” means “the training by the Word, whether of encouragement, or, if necessary, by reproof or remonstrance.”
The goal of nouthetic, (or more simply Biblical), counseling is that of sanctification. Beginning with the external symptoms and behavioral change, this transformation is addressed and manifested in the heart and spirit of the individual. Ultimately, life is adjusted to conform to the characteristics of Jesus Christ and God's will for the individual. Once we walk as God would have us walk our lives are transformed, as well as those around us.
Following the lead of Paul, as told in Acts 20:31, we are to continue to admonish with tears. In other words compassion is the motivator to instruct. In Galatians 6:1-2 we see that we are to display mercy to one another through gently seeking to restore those who struggle. In this we fulfill the Law of Christ and love one another.
Nouthetic Counseling recognizes God's Word as the ultimate authority and that it is sufficient to address each and every aspect of life. It involves giving counsel from the scriptures that directs believers to not only see what needs to be changed (admonish), but seeks to teach how this is to be done. Admonishing and teaching are tied together in the scriptures. cf. Col. 3:16
Nouthetic counseling also relies heavily upon the ministry of the Holy Spirit as it recognizes that no man is capable of giving God-glorifying advice without the ministry of the Holy Spirit. The counselor's obedience to the Word and to the Spirit is crucial for its success. Our ultimate hope is not in counseling techniques, education, or theories, but in our Sovereign Lord and in teaching reliance upon Him and not the counselor.