Author Archives: robertdjonesbob

Overview of the Problem or Conflict You Are Facing

Overview of the Problem or Conflict You Are Facing

Robert D. Jones, D. Theol., D.Min.

Name __________________   Telephone # _____________  Email __________________ Date _______

This brief overview helps you clarify your understanding of your problems or conflicts, and your desires and expectations for meeting with us. It also helps us gain an initial understanding of you and your situation. Don’t be overly thorough or precise; you will have time during our discussion to explain and expand on what you have written. Your counselor or conciliator will treat your answers as confidential (per our Agreement form); you need not share them with your spouse or others.

1.  Briefly state in your own words the problem(s) or conflict(s) you are facing: ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________




2.  For how long have you been facing these problems? __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


3.  What have you done so far about these problems?



4.  How might you like your counselor to try to help you?



5.  What issues or questions do you want to have resolved or answered?

6.  As you see yourself, what kind of person are you? How might you describe yourself? ______________


7.  List any other information about you or the problems that might be helpful for us to know: _________




{Side 2 for marriage, family, or relationship counseling, or for conflict dispute resolution}

8.  For marriage, family, or relationship counseling (or conflict dispute resolution) only: In what specific ways do you think God might want you to change (be honest), and might want your spouse and/or your other family members to change (be tentative)?

Person                                     Possible Changes Needed:

Þ  You                                    1) ___________________________________________________________________

2) ___________________________________________________________________

3) ___________________________________________________________________

4) ___________________________________________________________________

Þ  ________               1) ___________________________________________________________________

2) ___________________________________________________________________

Þ  ________               1) ___________________________________________________________________

2)  __________________________________________________________________

Þ  ________               1) ___________________________________________________________________

2) ___________________________________________________________________

Þ  ________               1) ___________________________________________________________________

2) ___________________________________________________________________

9.  For dispute resolution concerns:  What do you want from the other party? If there are legal matters involved (such as marital separation or divorce), what claim or remedy do you seek?





Personal Information Form (PIF)

Personal Information Form (PIF) 

Robert D. Jones, D. Theol., D.Min.


Name________________________________________  Gender___   Age___   Date_______________

Address _________________________________________________  Email ____________________

(Street/Box)                                       (City)                     (State/Zip)

Daytime telephone ______________ Evening telephone ___________  Referred to us by ___________

Section I — Marital Status/History

Status (underline all that apply): Single  Engaged  Married  Separated   Divorced   Widowed

Your Present Marriage (if applicable):

Spouse’s name _________________________  Age ___  Spouse’s occupation ___________________

Date of marriage _______  Place _____________ Years married ___

If you and your spouse have ever separated, give dates and circumstances: ______________________


Rate your marriage (circle: 0 terrible, 5 excellent):   0   1   2   3   4   5.   What might make it better?



Children from Present Marriage (if applicable):

Name            Son/Daught.    Age      Where Live           Marital Status         Occupation






Your Previous Marriages (or Relationships that Produced Children) (if applicable):

Name of Spouse/Partner    Dates                Children (Names and Ages)

1.  __________________  _____to_____  ________________________________________________

2.  __________________  _____to_____  ________________________________________________

Has your spouse been previously married? ___   How many times? ___

Children (Names and Ages) ___________________________________________________________



Section II — Occupational Status/History

Education (last level completed) ________   School/Institute _________________________________

Occupation _____________________  Name of Company ___________________  City/State ______

# Years there ______   Present income (est.) $_________  Work Telephone (____)________________

Does your present work satisfy you? Explain: _____________________________________________


What other job positions have you held in the past? _________________________________________


Section III — Family of Origin History

Parents:  Name                  Age    Where Live    Marital Status       Occupation

Father: ____________________________________________________________________________

Mother: ___________________________________________________________________________

Guardian: _______________  Relation to you: __________  Dates: _________

Brothers/Sisters:  (List in order from oldest to youngest; include yourself in that order):

Name           Bro/Sis/Step  Age   Where Live    Marital  Status    Occupation






Family “Climate”: Describe your home life during your childhood and teen years: ________________



Indicate any problems you experienced as a child or teen:

Family problems___  School problems___  Emotional/behavior problems___   Legal problems___   Medical problems___  Social problems___ Drug/alcohol problems___  Other:____________________

Psychological Problems: Have you, or any parent or brother or sister, been hospitalized or received professional help for “psychological” problems? Specify person, dates, and problem: ______________



Section IV — Religious Status/History

Past Denominational Background _______________  Present Denom. Preference_________________

Church Presently Attending __________________________________  City & State ______________

Member:  Yes  No        Average # of times per month you attend ___

Pastor ___________________ Telephone ______________  Permission to contact him: Yes  No

Do you believe in God?  Yes  No  Unsure

Do you consider yourself “saved?”   Yes   No   Unsure   Don’t understand the term

How frequently do you pray?  Often  Occasionally  Rarely  Never

How frequently do you read the Bible?  Often  Occasionally  Rarely  Never

What is your view of the Bible? ________________________________________________________

Have you come to the place in your spiritual life where you know for certain that if you were to die today you would go to heaven?  Yes  No  Unsure

Suppose you were to die and stand before God and he were to say to you, “Why should I let you into my heaven?,” what do you think you might say to God? _____________________________________


Why do you desire Christ-centered, biblical counseling? _____________________________________


Explain any recent changes in your religious life:  __________________________________________


Section V — Medical Status/History

Rate your health:  Very Good __  Good __  Average __  Poor __     Recent Problems? __________________

Date of last medical exam: __________  Report ___________________________________________

Your Physician ____________________________________________ City & State_______________

List any prescription medications you take:

Medication                 Treatment for               When began     Daily dosage           Prescribing Physician




List over-the-counter medications you currently take (diet pills, laxatives, birth control pills, cold and allergy medicines, aspirin, etc.): __________________________________________________________


List any surgeries that required anesthesia: ______________________________________________


Average daily caffeine consumption?  (coffee, tea, chocolate, stimulants, caffeinated soft drinks, etc.)  __________________________________________________________________________________

How often do you drink alcoholic beverages?   Often  Occasionally  Rarely  Never

How often do you struggle with the temptation to use illegal drugs?   Often  Occasionally  Rarely  Never

Average # of hours of sleep each night? ___  Is it restful? ____________________________________

Describe any recent changes in your sleep patterns: _________________________________________


Have you had any of the following physical problems?  Please check.

Heart problems ___                            Hypoglycemia ____                           Menstrual irregularities ___

Liver problems ___                             Lung Problems ____                           Hallucinations ____

Kidney Problems ___                         Allergies ______                                  Change in sexual drive ____

Head injury/concussion ___             Cancer ___                                           Problems walking ___

Stroke ____                                          Incoordination ___                             Unusual hair loss ___

Seizures ____                                       Anorexia or Bulimia  ___                  Rashes ___

Brain Tumor ____                              Visual Problems ____                         Memory Problems ____

Multiple Sclerosis ___                         Sensory distortions ____                    Episodic disorientation ___

Parkinson’s Disease ___                    Weakness ____                                   Personality change ____

Blackouts ____                                   Fatigue ____                                        Deja Vu ___

Amnesia ____                                      Heat/cold sensitivity ___                   Changes in consciousness ___

Tremors ____                                       Bowel/bladder problems ___            Headaches ____

Thyroid dysfunction ___                   Nausea or vomiting ___                     Dizziness ____

Diabetes ___                                        Recent weight change ____              Stiff neck ___

High Blood Pressure ___                    Impotence ___                                    Physical changes ___

Constant Hunger  ___                        Food cravings ___                               Fever ___

Pneumonia ___                                   Speech Problems ___                         OTHER? _________________________________

Have you or others noticed any changes in your personality (anger, mood swings, withdrawal), your thinking and memory, or your work habits? _______________________________________________


Section VI – Legal Actions (if applicable, for example, in conflict or separation/divorce cases)

If you have talked with an attorney about your problem, or intend to, please provide the following info:

Attorney                                                        Firm                                                                         

Address                                                                                             Phone                                  

     Date and purpose _______________________________________________________________

Has a legal action been filed or is one likely to be filed in this situation?  No  Yes  (If yes, give dates and describe action below.)

Other information that might be helpful for us to know about you (attach separate sheet if needed)

Biblical Counseling Agreement

Biblical Counseling Agreement

Robert D. Jones, D. Theol., D.Min.


Thank you for your interest in church-based, Christ-centered, biblical counseling and for giving us an opportunity to serve you. We look forward to helping you find God’s help and hope for the personal or relational problems you are facing. The following information will help you further understand our ministry and will serve as an agreement between us.

I.  General Comments:

Before reading this agreement form, please read our other document, “Interested in Biblical Counseling?” to understand what we mean by church-based, Christ-centered, biblical counseling.

Your counselor is a member of a local church and is ministering under the authority and direction of the church’s pastors. He or she is a church-trained biblical counselor, not a licensed psychologist, therapist, or psychiatrist, and offers Christ-centered, biblically-based counseling, not psychological counseling. If you have significant legal, financial, medical, or other technical questions, you should seek advice from an independent professional. Your counselor will seek to help you apply God’s Word to your life, based on your counselor’s understanding of God’s Word.

Your counselor may have one or more church members or leaders present in the sessions to assist him or her, observe him or her for ministry training purposes, or to serve you as mentors. These individuals will observe the same standards of care and confidentiality as your counselor.

You or your counselor may choose to discontinue counseling at any time, without explanation.


II.  Making the Process Most Effective:

To increase the effectiveness of the ministry process, your counselor asks the following of you:

1. Be committed to biblical counseling as described on this sheet and any other accompanying materials your counselor gives. Come to each session with a humble spirit, seeking to learn how God wants you to handle your problems based on his Word.

2. Attend each scheduled session. Allow 50-60 minutes for a session. If an emergency arises and you cannot attend a session, please contact your counselor as soon as possible at (919) 675-1594 and leave a detailed message for your counselor including your name and phone number for them to get back to you. Your counselor does not usually do telephone counseling and cannot reply to frequent phone calls, email, or postal correspondence.

3. Be as open and honest as you can. At the same time, your counselor realizes that talking about your problems may be very difficult for you and that your trust in him or her may take time to develop.

4. Be patient—your problems did not develop in a day. It may take your counselor several sessions to obtain a good understanding of your situation. It is vital for him or her to carefully listen and gather needed information and to build understanding and trust with you.

5. Complete any growth assignments given, and review and pray over the matters discussed during previous sessions. Your counselor will give you assignments that fit our counseling aims and will help you make progress between sessions. Failure to complete them may indicate lack of commitment to the process, and may result in discontinuation of the process.

6. Attend one of our three Sunday morning worship services and one of our adult Bible fellowship classes each week. Your counselor can discuss these options with you. Regular participation in a Christ-centered, biblical church like ours provides you with vital complements to our counseling: God-centered worship, solid Bible teaching with practical life application, pastoral care, and meaningful friendships with other people needing—and learning—God’s grace together.

III.  Confidentiality and Legal Concerns:

Confidentiality is an important aspect of the counseling, and your counselor will carefully guard the information you entrust to him or her. We desire as much as possible to protect your privacy.

At the same time, you must realize that this confidentiality is only within the limits of biblical and civil law. Your counselor cannot guarantee absolute confidentiality in every situation. For example, to ensure that you are receiving consistent counsel and support, your counselor might need to discuss your situation with appropriate leaders of your local church, or, in some cases, with your attorney, if you have one. Furthermore, he or she might need to divulge information to appropriate civil authorities if there is indication that you or someone else might otherwise be harmed. In counseling minor children, your counselor might need to divulge information to parents or legal guardians.

Your counselor also asks you to agree not to discuss our communications with people who do not have a necessary interest in the counseling or conciliation process. In addition, where your situation might involve legal issues, you must agree to treat all dealings with him or her in regard to this counseling as settlement negotiations, which means they will be inadmissible in a court of law or for legal discovery. Furthermore, you must agree that you will not try to force your counselor to divulge any information acquired during the counseling process or to testify in any legal proceeding related to the process.

In the unlikely event of a conflict between you and your counselor, all parties must seek to resolve it in a biblical manner, through discussion, and, if necessary, through mediation and arbitration, according to the Rules of Procedure of the Institute for Christian Conciliation, available at Peacemaker Ministries’ website ( For further information about confidentiality, see the Guidelines for Christian Conciliation at the same website.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Agreement by Counselee(s): If you have any questions about the above matters, please talk with your counselor or our church leaders. If you agree to these terms, please sign below and return this sheet to your counselor before or at the beginning of your first meeting.


I have read and understand the above guidelines and find them acceptable.


Name _________________________  Signed ___________________________  Date ____________

Name _________________________  Signed ___________________________  Date ____________

Name _________________________  Signed ___________________________  Date ____________

Agreement by Others Present in the Session:


I have read and understand the above guidelines and I will observe them in the counseling process.


Name _________________________  Signed ___________________________  Date ____________

Name _________________________  Signed ___________________________  Date ____________

Name _________________________  Signed ___________________________  Date ____________

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to serve Jesus by helping you find and apply his answers to your problems. May God encourage, bless, and empower you in these coming days!

Listening: Nothing Is More Godlike

A counselor friend recently received this email from a couple that he and his wife had counseled: “It was great to be with you yesterday and I want to thank you. You guys were great listeners. Allowing my wife to share the depths of her pain and express a brief picture of the extent of suffering we have experienced over these past two years was healing. She really felt heard and not overly diagnosed or analyzed. Before coming, she was afraid of having all her phrases picked apart for their rightness and wrongness. Instead, you really hurt for her. Your sympathy and expression over the severity of the trials were a great comfort. Thanks for being the body of Christ to us.” Continue reading

What Is Biblical Counseling? A Brief Overview

What is biblical counseling?[1] Let me describe it by unpacking both key terms.

First, biblical counseling is counseling. It helps specific individuals, couples, or families in their specific situations to know Christ better and handle life in God-pleasing ways. It is conversational—interactive and person-specific in ways that go beyond public preaching or teaching. In this sense, it is simply personal ministry, the ministry by one person to another person. We might also simply call it discipleship, or intensive, remedial, or problem-oriented discipleship. More broadly, it is nothing short of true biblical friendship or “intentionally helpful conversations” (David Powlison), as pictured in passages like these:

  • Proverbs 20:5, The purposes of a man’s heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out.
  • Romans 15:14, I myself am convinced, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, complete in knowledge and competent to instruct one another.
  • Galatians 6:1-2, Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. . . . Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
  • Ephesians 4:15, Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.
  • Colossians 3:16, Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom. . . .
  • James 5:19-20, My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.

As a process of personal ministry, it shares with secular counseling approaches basic concerns about relational dynamics, interviewing, listening skills, personal warmth and care, empathy, confidentiality, etc. But it does not necessarily share their limitations of clinical detachment, dual relationship avoidance, state-licensure, and other professional trappings (even when biblical counseling is done by specially trained professionals). While biblical counseling is the task of pastors, it is also the domain of all of God’s people—wise parents, spouses, roommates, neighbors, and brothers and sisters in your church.

Second, biblical counseling is biblical. Its truth source is God’s inerrant, inspired Word, and its focus is on the central theme of the Bible, namely, Jesus Christ and his life-changing, redeeming work for us and in us. In that sense, biblical counseling is Christ-centered. [2] In true biblical counseling the Bible is more than a grid, filter, or standard (all passive images); the Bible actively drives both our counseling theory and practice. The concepts and methods are not merely consistent with or proof-texted from the Bible; they emerge from the Bible itself as we interpret Scripture accurately and apply it wisely. We build our counseling on a biblical view of such key matters as these:

  • The triune God—Father, Son, and Spirit—and his character, ways, commands, and promises
  • People and their problems, including their beliefs and motives as well as their behavior
  • How people change and God’s provisions for such change in the gospel
  • The centrality of the church and of God’s equipped leaders and members in the change process

At least four convictions underlie the practice of biblical counseling:

1) We present the Lord Jesus Christ—the crucified, risen, reigning, and returning Savior—who through his Word and his Spirit can help us handle our personal and relational problems. Jesus alone provides the forgiving mercy (through his saving death and resurrection), the practical wisdom (in Scripture), and the enabling power (through his Spirit) that we need to know and please God in our daily living. Biblical counseling is eminently Christ-focused and Christ-driven, exalting the Christ of the Bible.

2) We use the Bible as our God-given tool to diagnose, explain, and solve people’s problems. As God’s Word, the Bible alone provides true, authoritative, and sufficient wisdom for every life situation, bringing people renewal, wisdom, joy, and light (Psalm 19:7–8). It is richly superior to all human wisdom and competing systems of secular and Christian integrationist counseling, while also enabling us to reframe valid insights that might come from medical or social science research.

3) We reflect the love, concern, and compassion of Jesus our Shepherd and Counselor. Biblical counseling is a caring process of Christlike love for struggling sheep. Qualities like compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience mark our ministry of God’s Word.

4) We address both the outward and the inward aspects of our problems to bring thorough and lasting godly change. Biblical counseling is not shallow, superficial, or simplistic. Scripture alone uncovers and solves our heart (beliefs and motives) and behavior (words and actions) struggles.

In one sense, biblical counseling is simply the intentional, consistent application of orthodox evangelical Christian truth—the gospel—to the realm of personal ministry and human problems. Whether the recipients are unbelievers who need to know Christ initially or believers who need to know Christ increasingly, a biblical counselor enter a person’s world, understand that person’s felt and true needs, and brings him Christ in wise, caring ways.

In our day we are witnessing a growing literature of books and articles that reflect the theory and practice of biblical counseling. A useful starter volume is Psychology & Christianity: Five Views (IVP, 2010), in which David Powlison presents the Biblical Counseling position in contrast to competing views. Powlison also edits the Journal of Biblical Counseling ( and has assembled two collections of his essays in Seeing With New Eyes: Counseling and the Human Condition Through the Lens of Scripture and Speaking Truth in Love: Counsel in Community. Popular books by Paul David Tripp [3] , Ed Welch[4] , and others[5] show how the Bible speaks profoundly to the complexity of human problems.

Institutionally, we see an increasing number of churches of all sizes biblically counseling their own members and also reaching their communities this way. We can look at biblical counseling seminaries like mine (The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary,, plus networking, training, or certifying organizations like the Biblical Counseling Coalition (, the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation ( and the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (

It is an exciting day for biblical counselors. As other evangelical Christians come to see the bankruptcy of integrating the pure wisdom of God’s life-changing Word with other human notions, we are finding a new openness among God’s people to the power of Scripture to speak richly and robustly to our human struggles.


[1] As a founding Council Board member, I recommend the Biblical Counseling Coalition’s Confessional Statement ( as a summative definition of biblical counseling.

[2] Unfortunately, some people use the adjective “Christian” to denote counseling approaches that are not truly Christian (thus, not biblical) in their understanding of Christ and his person, work, teaching, etc.

[3] Age of Opportunity: A Biblical Guide for Parenting Teenagers; War of Words: Getting to the Heart of Your Communication Struggles; Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands: People in Need of Change Helping People in Need of Change; Lost in the Middle: Midlife and the Grace of God; How People Change (with Timothy Lane); and Relationships: A Mess Worth Making (with Timothy Lane).

[4] Blame It on the Brain? Distinguishing Chemical Imbalances, Brain Disorders, and Disobedience; When People Are Big and God Is Small: Overcoming Peer Pressure, Codependency, and the Fear of Man; Addictions – A Banquet in the Grave: Finding Hope in the Power of the Gospel; Depression: A Stubborn Darkness; Shame Interrupted; and Side by Side.

[5] I have sought to do so in my Uprooting Anger: Biblical Help for a Common Problem and Pursuing Peace in All Your Relationships books and my other published mini-books and articles. See the below Biblical Counseling Coalition, CCEF, and ACBC websites for other recommended books, conferences, training, etc. The Biblical Counseling Coalition board members have produced three multi-author volumes to which I have contributed chapters: Christ-centered Biblical Counseling; Scripture and Counseling; and Biblical Counseling and the Church.