Regarding Christian Counseling:
Tim Clinton defines Christian counseling as, "a triadic healing encounter with the living Christ, facilitated by a helper who assists this redemptive, healing process, helping another get unstuck and moving forward on the path to spiritual maturity and psycho-social-emotional health." Unfortunately perfection is not attainable for human beings in this life. As much as we'd all love to be perfectly conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, it just isn't possible. However there are many issues that can be cured of people within the church. It's very difficult in secular therapy to get rid of issues that just won't disappear. But in Christian counseling, the miraculous power of Jesus Christ is at work and can remove all kinds of addictions and difficult problems. I can attest to this truth personally. I was an active drug addict and alcoholic for twelve years. I tried to quit once on my own power and stayed sober for a year, but then relapsed. After calling out to the risen Lord Jesus, I've been clean and sober sixteen months. Jesus really makes the impossible suddenly possible. It's not mystical, magical, or theoretical, it's real. I was near death, and now I'm alive and bearing fruit in the lives of others.
According to Hebrews 10:14 (NIV) "For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy." That is the great hope of Christianity and the powerful changing power of Christian counseling. The helper is not the changer, Jesus is. Biblical sanctification is one of my favorite topics. I write about it a lot on my blog. It's important that day by day I become more and more conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit will point to an area of my life where there is a problem. I'll feel the shame of it, and decide it must be removed. Then I go to Father God in prayer and ask him to remove the defect. Often through the Holy Spirit he'll guide me to a book I need to read, or a support group I can attend. Step by step my crooked places become straight. Issues can be cured, that's sanctification. It's also true that it's important to be caring, because some trials never end. Through Jesus and effective caring and curing, much progress can be made in the lives of the lost and in my own life personally.
Regarding the Heart of Man:
Jeremiah 17:9 (ESV) says "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?" It's clear from scripture that the very nature of every single man or woman born on the planet Earth is to sin. The only man who didn't have a sin nature was Jesus Christ, the God-man. Yet even Jesus was tempted, but did not fall to that temptation. It seems to me that scripture uses the idea of the heart to describe the wicked desires (sin) inherent in all people.
I never wanted to know Jesus or anything about God. I wanted to make up my own gods, or play spiritualism all the while sinning. And it took a very broken heart for things to change in my life. Psalm 34:18 (ESV) says "The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit."
It seems like often God will wait until someone is truly brokenhearted, and perhaps that is the time that one will be willing to receive a new heart of flesh, to replace the heart of stone (Ezekiel 11:19 ESV). Scripture also tells many times that God is able to see the true intentions of the human heart, and he will "test" the heart (Hebrews 4:12 ESV).
One we have received the savior, the Lord Jesus we can then draw near God. Hebrews 10:22 (ESV) says" Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water." So once we know Jesus, it's important to have faith in him. Proverbs 3:5 (ESV) says "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding." Once we know God, two essentials are trust and faith, these are responses within the renewed heart.
In conclusion, apart from God my heart is wicked. Upon receiving the savior Christ Jesus, I am then able to slowly be sanctified through my life. Inevitably though I will continue to sin, my heart is being changed, but it is not completed in this life. In fact, it has already been completed by the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. My heart has compassion and it grows better now, but the completed work is Jesus Christ. I received the gift of a coat of righteousness from him, so that Matthew 5:8 (ESV) is now true for me when it says: "“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."
Clinton, T. E., Hart, A. D., & Ohlschlager, G. W. (2005). Caring for people God's way: personal and emotional issues, addictions, grief, and trauma. Nashville: Nelson Reference & Electronic.