When Men Counsel Women

Are women better listeners? Talkers? Should a pastor counsel women? Only when he’s alone? When she’s with someone else? When he invites someone else into the office?

These and many other questions pop up when a woman needs the support and empathy of a counselor. David Powlison and Nancy Guthrie address several of them and suggest some practical steps a pastor can take to remain above reproach. But unless a pastor knows why he’s in the room during a counseling session, carrying this vision with care and clarity, no safeguards will suffice. He won’t be able to help, and he just might fall into sin.

Powlison and Guthrie also discuss the benefits of several different counseling arrangements besides one-on-one meetings. Rigidity can sometimes undermine the potential for fruitful interactions, Powlison cautions.

  • http://www.transformingwords.org/wordpress Don Sartain

    Definitely some solid advice and wisdom. Thanks for sharing.

  • Terry Kessinger

    I agree with most, but even in the safest environment, the part about the man who met with his wife’s best friend did not feel right. Unless the wife was there in the meeting, I can’t see when that should ever be advised. I suppose the only exclusionary time would be if the wife was mentally incapable of interaction.

  • http://about.me/davidbartosik david bartosik

    Two great counseling minds coming together leads to soft spoken words of wisdom—

    Nancy promoted the idea of gender specific gifts that allow women to be better counselors to women and women only pursue pastoral counseling from men for theological issues….she later brings up gender issues again by saying women process aloud and men internally.

    David Powlison quickly says, thats not true about him and the way he processes.

    Though I recognize each gender does things that are unique I really appreciated that David seems to want to show that counseling is a gender neutral issue. Wise counsel has care and clarity.

    YES women with women can bring greater clarity YES men have different insights and appropriate insights into mens lives…AND there are safeguards and boundaries that are needed, BUT I did not like how Nancy continually diminished the effectiveness of cross gender counseling. She continually pointed out how women counsel women better than men—I would also be curious if she also thought women counseled men better than men counsel men. My guess is yes, but I am speculating.

    All in all, very good dialogue.

    I think my favorite part occurred at 10 minutes 30 seconds when David said some women would ONLY want to be counseled by a man…..and you can almost see Nancy’s brain tweak out for a minute and then dismiss his perspective. Maybe it was just me. Made me smile.

    • Ali

      All good points – as for your last paragraph – ditto!

  • http://www.nancyguthrie.com Nancy Guthrie

    I assure you my brain was not “tweaking out” in dismissal but in taking in all that Dr. Powlinson has to teach me from his tremendous expertise and experience. And I am so grateful for the wise and capable counseling I have received from both men and women counselors.

    • http://about.me/davidbartosik david bartosik

      Thank you Nancy for the clarification- I misinterpreted and I do apologize for that but nonetheless made me smile- I hope that is still okay :)

      I appreciated checking out your blog as well and as I said before loved that two great counseling minds came together to talk about a very relevant issue in the church- I do hope a good amount of people were able to tune in!


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  • http://www.churchfurniturepartner.com Church Chair Guy

    Very healthy discussion that I very much appreciated.

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