Top Five Books on Counselling

Counselling is something which each and every one of us does, and yet it is something that is extremely difficult to do well (and by well I mean biblically).

My caveat at the outset of this post is that I am no counsellor. During my time at IBC we did tackle counselling, especially in our Pastoral Studies class. However, that does not qualify me. What follows is not the definitive list of counselling books; nor are they all books about counselling, some tackle one counselling topic. Nevertheless, I have found them helpful as I consider counselling people as a pastor and as I do counsel people as a husband, brother, son, friend, etc.

  1. Michael R. Emlet – Crosstalk: Where life & Scripture meet (2009)

This is a book about counselling.

The main thrust of Crosstalk is helping those who counsel connect Scripture to the lives of people. As one recommendation on the back testifies, “Mike Emlet is serious about applying all of Scripture to all of life”. In one particularly amusing section Emlet suggests using 1 Chronicles 1-9 to counsel marriage issues – can you imagine the couple’s faces if you started reading aloud that list of names? However, this section is also challenging as he legitimately applies 1 Chronicles 1-9 to that situation.

This book will help transform the way counsellors use the Bible in counselling sessions, but I also hope it helps us change the way we use our Bibles in everyday conversation whether we are knowingly or unknowingly counselling.

  1. Justin & Lindsey Holcomb – Rid of my Disgrace: Hope and Healing for Victims of Sexual Assault (2011)

As is evident from the title this book does not tackle the issue of counselling, but it does offer some much needed help and guidance in counselling a very sensitive issue.

This has fast become one of the biggest issues of the twenty first century. Not that it wasn’t an issue before; however, today it seems more people are willing to be open about sexual abuse and quicker to seek help after suffering it.

It is a tragedy that people are willing to execute these acts on people, and a travesty that it occurs within the church. But sticking our head in the sand and ignoring it will not do.

This book is a thoroughly researched piece of work, it is written with tact and yet it is informative. The real benefit of reading this book is the stories shared which then have grace applied to them. It is exceedingly helpful to have the Holcomb’s give examples of counselling victims so as to offer hope and healing.

  1. David Powlinson – Speaking the Truth in Love: Counsel in Community (2005)

This is a priceless resource for the church.

As I have stated above we are all counsellors to someone, whether we know it or not. This book tackles the issue of telling people how it is, while ensuring our speech is full of love. Powlinson has soaked his book in Scripture, and wrapped it up in wisdom. He speaks from experience (both good and bad). Due to the nature of the book it tackles both issues of the tongue, but also how to conduct counselling.

This book is part of a series the other book of which is called Seeing with New Eyes.

  1. Tim Lane & Paul Tripp – Relationships: A mess worth making (2006)

The title says it all…

There is not one person on earth who does not know the truth that relationships are messy. Whether it is parent-child, friend-friend, husband-wife, colleague-colleague, all relationships run into difficulties at one point or another.

The book covers the whole range of issues connected with relationships yet does it with humility and a little humour. These two men know they haven’t fixed all of their relationships, and so they don’t expect you to. However, they offer some practical help, based on Bible truths, to ensure your relationships are a mess worth making.

  1. David Powlinson – The Pastor as Counsellor in For the Fame of God’s Name (2010)

In this essay Powlinson gives a brief, but helpful, definition of counselling. This definition aids us in grasping the concept of counselling, and the aim.

You don’t have to be a pastor to find this essay of benefit, although it will encourage pastors and hopefully lead congregations to be more sympathetic toward pastors as they work hard at counselling. However, the majority of the essay is concerned with the uniqueness of the message of Christian counselling. This is why it is helpful to all of us as all of us at some stage or another counsel. Our aim and hope should always be to counsel well by counselling biblically.


In addition to my top five I would encourage people to read most of what David Powlinson and Paul Tripp have written. Their writing is extensive, wise, well informed and thoroughly Christ centred. Most things you come across by these authors would be well worth reading.

Consequently, if you find yourself drawn toward the realm of counselling, desire to learn more or are seeking resources for counselling I recommend that you visit – the Christian Counselling and Education Foundation. This is American, but extremely helpful. Also check out the titles published by New Growth Press as they work closely with CCEF.

Mark Dricoll’s Death by Love is also worth reading as he shares letters written to members of his congregation in need of pastoral counselling. In each letter he shows how some aspect of Christ’s work on the cross brings healing and hope into a difficult situation.

Finally, two slightly more dated authors who are still worth reading would be Jay Adams and Lois Mowday. Adams is a counsellor concerned with counselling congregations, his material is dated but there is lots of help there too. Mowday tackles issues that women face. One book in particular which was perhaps written before its time is very helpful – Daughters without Dads: offering understanding and hope to women who suffer from the absence of a loving father.


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