I remember reading that for the first time and being spell-bound by the observation. How true! And I also have spent many years thinking about the implications. If the psychiatrist's couch is where counseling occurs, the focus is on the client himself, as therapist and client together conduct their deep analysis of the hidden corners of his heart. There may be a place for that but where can it really go, except deeper and deeper into the client's subconscious mind? No wonder the “therapeutic culture” so prevalent in the church today has done little to make an impact on the marriages, families and personal lives of Christians (mental health and family health statistics for Christians are never much different from any others). Couch-centered therapy is so focused on the client it perpetuates the underlying problem: the narcissistic worship of self.
On the other hand, if the place of Christian counseling returned to the altar—perhaps even literally—how much different the focus could be! And when I say “literally”, what if it really was? What if there was an altar in the counseling office? What if a Christian counseling session were designed to end in worship? What if Christian counselor and client knelt together at on the floor or on a bench and spent a season in confession and thanksgiving? What if, to go even further, it was designed to end in that consummate expression of worship, the breaking of bread (communion)? Talk about a dramatic demonstration of our reliance upon God to do the work!