Book Reviews

Kitchen Table Counseling

Muriel Cook, Shelly Cook Volkhardt Colorado Springs 2006-02-14

Muriel Cook teams with her daughter, Shelly, to put into writing wisdom and practical insights from Muriel’s more than fifty years of lay counseling. The book covers a wealth of information that has been presented at Kitchen Table Counseling seminars for the past thirty-six years.

Muriel Cook, and her husband, Norman, served for sixteen years as missionaries in Taiwan before joining the faculty of Multnomah Bible College. Although Muriel Cook is not a professional counselor, she explains that for many years she has tried to help hurting women who have sat at her kitchen table, using Scripture and spiritual encouragement. Her book gives sound biblical advice for those desiring to minister to hurting women.

The authors present the book in two parts: Guidelines for the Kitchen Table Counselor, and Help for Dealing with Specific Issues. In the first part common fears and qualifications of lay women are addressed as well as suggestions for times when a professional counselor needs to be recommended. Cook and Volkhardt identify six biblical principles for all counseling situations: Ask for God’s guidance, lance the boil, meet her felt need, take her to Jesus, believe for her, and help her become independently dependent. Excellent chapters follow on the importance of forgiveness, trusting God in the midst of suffering, guidelines in balancing lay counseling with family priorities, and how to evaluate and develop the spiritual growth of hurting women.

The second half of the book has chapters on anger, domineering husbands, depression and burnout, difficult family members, fear, grief, married and tempted, married to an unbeliever, overbearing parents, pornography, sexual abuse and rape, singleness, spiritual stronghold, suicide, and personal worth. Each chapter presents examples and practical suggestions to help women struggling with these problems. The authors also include a leader’s guide for those who would like to use the material in the book as a training program for women desiring to be lay counselors. A comprehensive topical Scripture reference index concludes the book.

This book is greatly needed by the church today. It addresses the “how” of lay counseling in a practical and relevant way and should be on the shelf of every Christian woman. It is filled with page after page of basic counseling guidelines. Its suggestions can readily be applied by any lay woman who desires to reach out and help hurting women around her, and it also offers spiritual insights that could be helpful in professional counseling settings as well.

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