Caring for the Souls of Children: A Biblical Counselor's Manual

Biblical Counseling Coalition
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Coming alongside struggling children can feel like an uphill battle. Yet children struggle with the same desires adults struggle with, are lured by the same lies adults fall prey to, and can find hope in the same source adults can find hope—in Jesus. This manual helps counselors share Christ—the way, the truth, and the life—while tailoring interactions and teachings to the understanding of children. Articles are written by a wide range of biblical counselors, authors, and pastors who have worked with children for many years including Amy Baker, Julie Lowe, Marty Machowski, Jessica Thompson, Jonathan Holmes, Michael R. Emlet, Garrett Higbee, Edward T. Welch, Kevin Carson, Harvest USA, Charles Hodges, Joni and Friends, Bob Kellemen, and Pam Bauer.

Caring for the Souls of Children equips counselors, parents, pastors, and other helpers who love children, to boldly trust in the sufficiency of Scripture for counseling. Edited by counselor and author Amy Baker, this in-depth resource begins with an overview of foundational principles for counseling children and addresses a different counseling topic in each subsequent chapter. Topics addressed include a wide variety of general and specific issues that children face including anxiety, anger, abuse, suicidal thoughts and actions, self-harm, shame, grief, disability, disease, sexual identity, and many others.


Amy Baker, PhD, Editor, is the ministry resource director at Faith Church (Lafayette, IN), a member of the board of directors for Vision of Hope, instructor and counselor at Faith Biblical Counseling Ministries, a council member of the Biblical Counseling Coalition, and the author of Getting to the Heart of Friendships and Picture Perfect: When Life Doesn't Line Up as well as several counseling minibooks. She and her husband, Jeff, have two children.

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"Every child struggles to find his or her way in life, but for children dealing with a disability, finding the way can seem filled with dead ends. How do we shepherd a child through those difficult seasons? In Caring for the Souls of Children, you will find a rich resource of wise insights, seasoned advice, and solid biblical guidance to help children view their limitations from God's point of view. I give this much-needed book a double thumbs-up!"
Joni Eareckson Tada, Founder and CEO, Joni and Friends International Disability Center

"Some books over-promise, but not this one. On all the most pressing issues in counseling (and parenting!) children, Caring for the Souls of Children delivers with grace and wisdom. I highly recommend this resource."
Alasdair Groves, Executive Director, Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation(CCEF)

"This wonderful book about counseling children (and teens) fills an important gap in biblical counseling resources. We are reminded that children experience the same kinds of problems and fears that adults do and thus need our help. This book will be of great practical use as the authors present many realistic counseling situations in which they walk the reader through a wise, compassionate, and biblical way to help hurting children. This resource will be a of great help to pastors and counselors who work with children and teens. I plan to highly recommend it to all of my students."
Jim Newheiser, Director of the Christian Counseling Program and Associate Professor of Pastoral Theology, Reformed Theological Seminary;Executive Director, The Institute for Biblical Counseling and DIscipleship (IBCD)

"As a longtime biblical counseling pastor and now professor, I have waited over thirty years for a book like this! Amy Baker and her team provide a one-stop shop of readable, gospel-centered, biblically-driven strategies to help counselors and caring adults minister to kids facing all sorts of struggles. Children need Jesus; this book helps us bring him to them."
Robert D. Jones, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; author of Pursuing Peace and Anger: Calming Your Heart

"If you work with children, in any capacity, you need Caring for the Souls of Children. This counseling manual is a rich, robust resource addressing the vast array of issues related to child soul care. It provides introduction to methodology and theory, addresses common but often overlooked aspects of counseling children, and delves into the darkest challenges a counselor will face with instruction for counseling topics like self-harm, trauma, and post-suicide counseling."
Curtis Solomon, Executive Director of the Biblical Counseling Coalition

"Dr. Amy Baker and her team of writers have greatly served the church of Jesus Christ by assembling this important book. The chapters are both practical and theologically robust. Surely the Lord is pleased when counselors give special care to ministering to children. These truths will also be helpful to parents, teachers, and children's ministry leaders."
Steve Viars, Senior Pastor, Faith Church, Lafayette, IN; author Loving Your Community

"Whether to counsel children and how to counsel children are some of the most common questions within the biblical counseling movement, yet there have been few resources available on this topic. Thankfully, a team of well-qualified counselors and trusted authors have worked together to fill a gap in the biblical counseling literature. If you counsel and you have struggled knowing how to serve the children in your community, then this resource is a must-read."
Rob Green, Pastor of Counseling and Seminary Ministries, Faith Church, Lafayette, IN; author of Tying the Knot and Tying Their Shoes

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5 Reviews

  • 5
    Great Resource for Teachers

    Posted by Amy M on 02 21 2021

    This is a great tool for teachers and others who work with children. So many helpful tools in this one book!

  • 5
    A Must Read for Counselors, Pastors, and Christian Educators

    Posted by Jessica Head on 10 01 2020

    What an insightful and encouraging book! Navigating difficult trials are hard for adults and even more so for children. As a teacher, I can feel lost at times when helping my students process big emotions and sinful reactions that often appear in the classroom. I'm thankful to work at a small classical Christian school where the Gospel's good news is woven throughout our curriculum and everyday practices. But some situations are more severe than others, and the fear of the unknown often leaves me paralyzed. Caring for the Souls of children has provided me with practical tools that is rooted in the truth of the gospel. One chapter I found extremely helpful was the section on helping children with friendship. Children usually expect friendship to come and remain easy. They view friendship from an "all about me" lens. Many of their friends enjoy the same hobbies and think as they do. But how do we help our children go beyond their friendship comfort zone? How do we help them think of friendship more sacrificially? Caring for the Soul of Children helps lay a scriptural foundation for viewing friendship in the light of the Gospel. Christ was our friend when we were still dead in our sins with nothing to offer him, and yet he chose to draw us to his side (John 1:14). Sharing and modeling this with our children helps them see how the Gospel permeates how we view companionship. This chapter also had helpful sections on dealing with peer pressure and bullying, which are very prevalent in today's society, whether in person or online. Two other helpful chapters included working with anxious children and children dealing with death and grief. Because of COVID-19, many of our children have experienced the loss of loved ones, seen parents go through immense stress because of job loss and decreased finances, and shared the overnight, abrupt changes of a world in a pandemic. Caring for the Souls of Children provides excellent activities and questions to help children process their fearful emotions while being reminded through scripture of God's great care for them. By reminding them of God's unchanging promises, we help lay a framework they can carry into adulthood regardless if life brings joy or sorrow. I'm abundantly thankful for the "Word to Parents" section in each individual chapter, as well. Partnering well with parents is an important part of classical education and I appreciate the helpful tools to help bring parents into the daily conversations about our sin and struggles that are happening at school. I'm thankful for New Growth Press, editor Amy Baker, and the other authors of Caring for the Souls of Children. This book will be a resource that I frequently visit throughout my teaching career and working with children in church ministry. This book has helped me not be fearful of the challenging, unknown situations that will undoubtedly arise, but trust that God's word is sufficient (2 Tim. 3:16), will not return void (Is. 55:11), and he will continue the work he has started in us (Phil. 1:6).

  • 5
    This is a book I wish I had when I began in ministry.

    Posted by Jared Kennedy on 09 29 2020

    Several things about Caring for the Souls of Children encouraged me. First, I loved how practical it is. Throughout the book, each contributor provides activities and questions that will help a counselor to hear and understand a child’s struggles and also to communicate biblical truth. I particularly liked Julie Lowe’s “boat and refuge” activity (pp. 98–100) that can be used to help an anxious child name their fears and find refuge in God. Second, I was thoroughly encouraged by the intentional ways each contributor included the child’s parents into the discussion. Contributors were careful to say that many children don’t need counseling, they simply need godly parenting. So the best approach is often to give counsel to moms and dads on how to parent their kids. Every chapter in part 2 ended with a section titled “A Word to Parents.” These closing paragraphs give mom and dads wise instruction on how to further engage their kids outside of a counseling session. Third, I was deeply impressed with the contributors’ awareness of how both sin and suffering impact children. Biblical counselors can sometimes put uneven emphasis on personal agency, but the contributors to this volume—without denying a child’s responsibility—demonstrated a conviction that brokenness is bigger than sin. In Charles Hodges chapter on self-harm, for example, he describes how the endorphin rush that comes when cutting is part of what draws those who self-harm back to it (p. 197). In Pam Bauer’s chapter on children who are not living with their biological parents, she unpacks at length the trauma of loss, confusion, grief, and fear children experience when removed from their homes or given up for adoption (pp. 280–87) These are just two examples, but nuanced discussions of various struggles abound. Other favorites of mine are Jessica Thompson’s treatment of the parent-child relationship (chapter 5), Tim Geiger’s approach to talking with kids about sexual identity (chapter 12), and the Joni and Friends team’s chapter on counseling children with disabilities (chapter 15).

  • 5
    For Counsellors, Pastors, and Parents

    Posted by Jennifer Holmes on 09 29 2020

    With chapters contributed by many different counsellors, this book gives a great overview of the many issues facing children today and is full of practical and biblical wisdom coupled with many years of experience between all the counsellors. Each chapter not only speaks to the counsellor, but I also appreciated that each chapter also addressed parents. This book was so helpful to me as the parent of three teenagers. I loved that the sections to parents applied to me as a parent reading, or could help me in my counselling to speak to the parent’s needs directly. Also included in many chapters were helpful charts, lists, practical ideas to use during sessions and of course, each chapter included a Bible passage to work through with the children. I see myself turning to specific chapters for ideas when needed. I appreciated this book’s wide range of topics. Nothing was shied away from, including many hard topics that kids face today. Anxiety, cutting, suicide, abuse, disabilities, divorce, and more are all covered with wisdom and grace. “Wisdom is knowing what type of intervention they need, while wisely, consistently pointing them to greater faith.”

  • 5
    Caring for the Souls of Children

    Posted by Anne Dryburgh on 09 14 2020

    If a young child came to you for counsel, how would you help them? Do children need a different kind of advice than a teenager or an adult? Caring for the Souls of Children’s core thesis is that their struggles, desires, and hopes are no different than adults’. Children struggle with the same desires as adults, are lured by the same lies adults fall prey to, and find hope in the same source as adults find hope. The first part of the book explains foundation and methodological issues involved when counseling children. This includes key elements when counseling and an awareness of the stages of childhood development. Part two addresses specific counseling issues that children face. These issues are in relationships, emotions, their bodies, and trauma. Given the nature of the book, it is only possible to briefly address each of these areas. Caring for the Soul’s of Children is an excellent starting point to address the issues children face and how to counsel them biblically

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