Christian Counseling Software – It Gets Personal!

It Gets Personal!
By Steve Hewitt


“Don’t get personal!” I found myself thinking this thought on several occasions as I prepared for this review. However, counseling software has the disposition of doing just that, it “gets personal.” When I
review Bible study software, I study the Bible with the program I am reviewing. Therefore, I decided if I was going to review counseling software, I would submit myself (and my wife) to the tests and surveys
to fully experience the results of such software. As a pastor myself, I thought it would be insightful, sort of a “physician, heal thyself” situation. I must admit, that I now know more about my wife and myself than I did before I began to take the survey and tests used in the two programs I wish to review in this article. What I learned was refreshing, insightful, and healthy, which is the purpose of counseling.

As a pastor, there are many different levels of counseling we are called upon to accomplish. Although the training and education of individual pastors should determine the extent of such duties, most pastors will find themselves in several common counseling situations such as pre-marital, post-marital, and other types of relationship conflicts. Both the MARET software modules and the Heartwise Communication program will help to provide needed support to the pastor in both evaluations of personal characteristics involved in relationships, and both provide invaluable solutions and suggestions for those receiving the counseling.


MARET Counseling Software

Let me start with the MARET software modules. I will refer readers to a previous review of the MARET test module that we published in the September 1992 issue of CC Mag. This first counseling tool was developed to help the pastor measure anxiety, depression and general psychological distress. It measures life change, basic religious foundational beliefs, and attitudes toward three areas of morals-intimacy, interpersonal relationships and material things. Briefly we stated that the program, although basic in function and look, ran well, and provided valuable results.

Since their first offering, MARET has introduced their two latest modules, the Premarriage Inventory and the Marriage Inventory. The first is designed to be used with those seeking marriage, while the second is designed for marriages that are experiencing some difficulty, or for those that are seeking to build upon an already healthy relationship.

MARET has worked on improving the overall installation and method by which the various functions of the program are accessed. I have noted that several of the suggestions I shared with the author have been
implemented in these new modules (drop to DOS, use of PgUp and PgDnkeys to move through menu selections, CPU speed considerations, etc.). MARET continues to provide an easy to read manual that is printed from disk. They also provide a 90-minute audio cassette with tutorial instructions along with “on screen” help.


Premarriage Inventory

The Premarriage Inventory (PI) is designed to be used with couples who are engaged. The PI measures ten aspects of the couple’s relationship.those areas are: communication skills, spiritual orientation, views
about sex and divorce, financial issues, views about roles and authority, and issues elated to the home of origin. The PI also screens for 14 indicators of prior abuse and/or dysfunction.

The program obtains the information about the individual concerning these subjects as a result of a multiple choice test. The questions asked are related to the subjects mentioned above. For example, one of
the 180 different questions listed includes, “Married people should do research on products considered as major purchases before they buy.” You are instructed to choose from one to five. One would mean, “Yes, I
agree Very Strongly with this statement.”

Two would mean, “No, II disagree Very Strongly with this statement.” While the program is designed to allow the person to respond to the various questions using the computer, the test questions can be printed
off and administered by paper. The data could then be entered into the program by someone more comfortable with the computer. When the data is entered, you can then view the results. There are two methods of viewing results. You can view on-screen graphics, and/or print out a detailed report of the results.

As an optional part of the PI print out results you may receive a set of customized homework assignments. Homework assignments include four sets of questions for the male and four sets of questions for the
female. The system is designed for the counselor to give out one set of questions each week, for four weeks. The next week the counselor could guide a discussion on the answers to the questions. Questions
are specifically generated from the premarriage test results. Questions selected from the total premarriage question bank are selected based on the strongest “skews” of each person’s score. Thus, no two sets of homework questions will be the same, and each individual will end up discussing things that are of greatest concern in their life. The manual instructs you to use the questions wisely. Always screen the questions prior to passing them out. Many deep emotions can surface as a result of the subjects breached in the testing.


Marriage Inventory

The Marriage Inventory (MI) is very similar to the PI with the addition of the subject of resentment. There are also two additional tools available for those using the MI. First, the MARRIAGE COUNSELOR
provides an additional printout of an index showing the amount of contradiction in the relationship. Next, they will receive a “plan of action” for dealing with the troubled relationship. This is done in paper form and is a discussion tool for counseling. Finally, they receive a series of questions to be used in counseling.

The second tool is call the MARRIAGE MANAGER. This tool is designed to be used with the MI for those marriages that are untroubled, but seeking to be more dynamic. This tool provides the couple with a
series of questions designed to develop and polish communication issues. Users may receive their question worksheets (24 sets in all) on a weekly or monthly basis.


MARET Conclusions

Both my wife and I felt the tests provided a good characterization of our marriage. The visual graphics not only show how you feel about certain issues, but how you feel your spouse will feel about those same
situations. It is easy to compare results when they are displayed side by side on the screen. The printed results of the MI test we took provided an 11 page report with ratings and suggestions for areas of

MARET software has shown that they are interested in providing a quality product. The program has improved much since our last review. They provide sample data for the pastor to use as he learns to use the
program and data results. If you buy one of the modules (either the MARET, PI or MI) and later decide you want to add additional modules, all you have to do is call. All modules are available with the product
at purchase, however, only the modules you paid for will work beyond the sample test runs. Additional modules can be activated with verbal commands given over the phone as you are willing to pay for them. Once a MARET module is purchased, it can be used to test an unlimited number of individuals.

This is a program I can feel free to recommend. I am pleased to see they are consistently improving the program and offering such a wide range of helpful tools.

Price: Retail price for each module is $99.00 or $249 will buy the full package.

System requirements: DOS 3.3, CGA or above, 1.53 Megs on the hard drive and 3.5 or 5.25 floppy disk.


Heartwise Communication

The Heartwise program was developed by Rev. Jerry Hill for commercial use in secular businesses. Rev. Hill has over 25 years of management experience and has served as a pastor and evangelist. He has used a
variety of different psychological instruments during those years, however, he found them lacking in many ways. Most were too clinically oriented, required a trained expert to interpret the results, and were
designed to identify abnormal behavior only. He was interested in developing a program that would help evaluate personalities, and then help these different personalities enhance their relationship by the
knowledge gained through the administration of the survey.

Rev. Hill began research and development for his original product in 1983, and by 1986 he brought it to market. The Heartwise system is based on quantitatively validated research. What sets it apart from
other instruments is the conversion of data into high-level mathematical formulas that are processed by a personal computer. What does that mean (in plain English)? Heartwise has developed a survey based upon 24 different words, which you respond to and rate in accordance with “How You Feel You Really Are.” Some examples of the words you are to respond to include: Understanding, Dynamic, Daring, Adaptable. You rate your responses from one to five, one being “Almost Never” to five which is “Almost Always.” You then respond to an additional 24 descriptive words and rate them in accordance with “How Others Expect You to Act.” On the basis of the answers you select, the program analyzes the responses and can provide some remarkable results!

The rating of the adjectives is done by paper. The results are then entered into the computer program, and the results are printed out. On the basis of these 48 single word descriptions, the program will print
out a nine-page report that provides your “primary traits” and “role adjustments” you are making as a result of the demands of your environment. The program provides a rating for you in the four traits of your basic temperament. You are provided a “Trait Intensity Graph” that allows you to plot the four trait characteristics: dominance, extroversion, patience, and conformity. The nine-page profile report provides you with a description of your “High Trait” which can account for 50% to 70% of a person’s behavioral style. It also explains how your other three traits interact with your high trait. The profile accurately described my communication and leadership style and was right on the mark when it listed areas that I was personally sensitive to that could cause me to respond in a negative way. The profile will list things that will help motivate or de-motivate you. This is important information to be shared with those we closely associate with, i.e., family, those at work, etc. It describes effective and ineffective behavior of someone with your “High Trait” and gives a brief plan of action to help you overcome possible ineffective behaviors.

The profile provides an indication of your innate level of energy. It is designed to compare this level with your situations at home or work to help you understand and compare your capacity to others with whom
you associate. Finally, it provides a level of satisfaction or dissatisfaction with your environment.

Not only did my wife and I take this survey, but several others in our office. When the reports were printed and read, everyone was amazed at the detailed information provided and how accurate this information
proved to be. For example, if you have ever talked with me personally, you would know that I talk fast. (This has always been a problem when preaching.) My profile report on page three stated that “you are a FAST, ARTICULATE communicator” and “you are…a LIVELY TALKER!”

How does this program help you? After all, isn’t it just telling you things about yourself you already knew? Not at all. Everyone that took the survey in our office made the comment that they learned much about
THEMSELVES! Also, remember, the program is designed to help you in your relationships with others. When you share your profile report with another, they are learning more about you than they might have learned in years of close association. By sharing this information, new lines of communication are opened up.

This program is versatile enough to be used by any person, persons or small groups that seek to improve relationships. This would include committees, working staff, families, etc. The program has great
application for those either about to be married, or for those seeking to improve their present marriage. Not only can two people in a relationship learn more about themselves and about each other by sharing their profile reports, the program is also designed to allow for “Profile Comparisons.” By entering the four traits of both individuals, a four page report is produced for each person which provides quality information on how to interact with the other person in the comparison. Teamwork suggestions are provided as well as a communication interaction worksheet for both individuals that explain how the other person’s high and low trait will affect what they expect from others. You are given space to write out methods you could use to adjust to the other’s traits.

This program will also provide great value for church staff memberswho work together. It should be used to help better relationships between church boards, deacons, and committees with the pastor and/or
church staff member.

Rev. Hill has already used this program with the Nazarene World Mission Board since 1985 to profile their missionaries. Many missionaries have expressed great delight after viewing the results when compared with their supervisors or directors. It has helped them to better adjust their relationships to those they are required to work together with. Teen Challenge has just recently decided to use this program to profile
all of their staff.


Heartwise Conclusions

Both my wife and I have benefited from the information provided in the profile and have completed the worksheets provided by the Profile Comparisons. I am so impressed with the program that I have recommended that the members of our Board of Directors for Christian Computing, Inc. take the surveys as well.

Suggested retail price: Manual with standard forms – $35.00. The software is sold on the basis of the number of surveys you are allowed to administer. Twenty uses with printed materials sells for $195.00
($9.75 per profile). Fifty uses with printed materials sells for $390.00 ($7.98 per profile). One hundred uses with printed materials sells for $695.00 ($6.95 per profile). Over 100 uses are negotiable with the author. These prices are available to churches and non-profit organizations, and represent a 40% – 50% discount over secular commercial prices.

System requirements: DOS 2.0, 3.5 low-density drive, or 5.25 high-density drive.


Final Thoughts

Both of these programs do what they claim in a professional and thorough way. This article is not designed to be a comparison review. Purchase decisions should not be based on an either/or situation. BOTH
of these programs provide different services and help to aid the pastor in his counseling experiences. They take two different approaches and cover different areas involved in relationships. As a pastor, plan to
use both. MARET’s marriage material brings needed subjects to the surface, such as past family backgrounds, financial situations, authority, etc., whereas, Heartwise’s program will help marriage
partners (or any other type of relationships we have already mentioned) better understand themselves and each other.

For more information write or call:

MARET Software
3813 W. 214 Street
Matteson, IL 60443
Phone (708) 748-1188

Heartwise Communication
10231 Robinson Street
Overland Park, KS 66212
Phone (913) 383-1489

(The above material was published by CHRISTIAN COMPUTING, March, 1993)

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