By Dr. Christine Stennett (Pastor)

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Generally, many persons are confused when it comes to giving accurate explanations, based on their limited understanding, to the terms counselling and deliverance and are therefore reticent in seeking necessary help regarding both. Both professional terminologies are however interrelated to a large degree and when conducted by trained experienced individuals offers lasting, effective healing to the body, mind, soul and spirit of the troubled individual.

The term counselling is defined at many different levels, from the simplistic to the more clinical or complexed. In its simplest form it may be referred to as,

offering professional help or guidance to persons regarding various aspects of their lives be it psychological, academic, emotional, financial, relational, familial or spiritual etc.

Usually it is precipitated by the individual’s inability to navigate the challenges they face in these areas on their own, which necessitate them seeking professional help. In its more complexed form counselling may become clinical and involve psychotherapy as well as medication therapist (use of medicine) both being used in tandem. The counselling goal here is to enable clients to overcome deep emotional, psychological, spiritual, social and biological trauma in order to improve the overall quality of their lives. This level of counselling can only be effective when administered by a trained, experienced counsellor. In some regards it may mirror some of what takes place in a deliverance session if conducted by a clinical Christian counsellor or trained pastor.

The etymology of the term deliverance denotes the action of setting someone or something free in a spiritual or physical sense. Usually refers to the casting out of demonic anti-Christ spirits believed to be possessing and controlling the life of an individual towards negative behaviour. Deliverance is usually done within a spiritual, religious environment and its main aim is to set the person free from demonic possession. Unlike most counselling sessions, which may require a series of sessions for goals to be achieved, more often than not deliverances are instantaneous or may be done within a few hours.  There are also instances where deliverance is prolonged due to the dominance of the possessing spirits within the persons. Biblical reference is made of this in St Matthew 17:21. 

But an evil spirit of this kind is only driven out by prayer and fasting.”

The similarity of counselling and deliverance however, is that they both need to be conducted by trained personnel. It is worth noting here that while the counsellor may undergo, to a large degree academic training, the person doing the deliverance, particularly from a Christian perspective should also be trained in biblical spiritual matters.

Deliverance also has different levels in effectiveness depending on the spiritual depth of the person doing the deliverance. While every born again believer is given the authority to subdue demonic forces according to Scriptures such as Luke 10:19-21, which says,

 “Behold, I give unto you power to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and all the power of the enemy and nothing shall by any means harm you,”

nevertheless the believer needs to first be free from possession himself and be living a life of right standing with Christ in order to perform “true” deliverance.

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Counselling versus Deliverance

As outlined above there is a direct relationship between counselling and deliverance although both have their specified areas of emphasis. Their goals and desired outcomes are nonetheless the same personal holistic freedom. The question however is, “What determines whether or not an individual requires counselling or deliverance?” The matter of counselling or deliverance is not one of either or and both are most often required.

There are a number of factors which determine whether counselling or deliverance should be sought first. These are assessed during intake which is the initial session or first meeting with the client to determine what challenges he or she is facing. Some of these include but is not limited to the following: 

  • It is first to be determined if the root cause of the person’s problem is due to poor personal choices? 
  • Does the person exhibit any control over his or her behaviour although they may be experiencing some challenges?
  •  Is the problem more spiritually dominate in nature?
  •   Has the person been seeking traditional or non-traditional spiritual assistance in getting rid of the problem prior to counselling or deliverance?
  • Can the problem that the person is dealing with be traced generationally?
  • What is the individual’s level of spiritual maturity?
  • What is their mental and emotional state?
  • Are they currently in the middle of an emotional crisis? (Persons experiencing immediate crises do not typically benefit from deliverance ministry until their emotions have been stabilized)
  • Is the person being forced in a session by a second party or are they seeking help on their own?
  • Is the individual medicated (persons under the influence of psychotic medication may not respond willfully of their own volition to either counselling or deliverance due to the impact of the drug).

One of the greatest indicators that an individual may need deliverance instead of just counselling is, if he or she have had repeated prayer and counselling with limited lasting success. Also if the individual has been over a long period of time attempting overcome specific challenges with professional help but has not been getting the desired outcome of victory then deliverance would be the next step.

The ability to understand the distinctions between counselling and deliverance as well as their correlation, enables even the lay individual to determine which help to seek when facing challenges which requires professional help from both fields.  Both requires professional assistance and seek to bring about freedom and self- actualization for a greater good. None should replace the other as both are usually needed in order for success or victory to be realized. Counselling should be the follow-up of every deliverance session to ensure that old patterns are not repeated and a new way of operating is adhered to. Likewise, the high likelihood of deliverance being necessary should be entertained by the counsellor as part of his or her treatment plan. Particularly for the Christian counsellors. Most secular counsellors do explore spirituality as well with their client’s consents. Where ignorance or confusion exists regarding whether to seek counselling or deliverance both should be explained with clarity and where necessary used with efficiency to complement each other and bring about positive change in the life of the individual.

-Pastor Dr. Christine Stennett