Approaches to Counseling
Counseling and Spirituality
It seems that the entire counseling world is based on trying to ‘fix’ people. The media would like us to think of counseling as a formal setting in which an educated person sits in a chair listening to another person talk about how they feel. The goal of psychology is to determine why human beings behave the way they behave. The goal of a Christian should be to show God’s love to the world around them. All of these goals collide when we talk about counseling.
Different Approaches to Counseling
How one approaches counseling suffering people will be based on their worldview and their training background. A counselor trained in secular thinking will look to find a relief for suffering utilizing adaptation while a Christian counselor will primarily be concerned with the eternity of the client. A Christian counselor will seek to follow a holistic healing model in which the mind, body and spirit is addressed. A separation of psychology and spirituality is confusing, not only to our clients, but also to counselors.
If our clients are confused, and we are confused where does this leave us? It leaves us as human beings living in a hurting world, with answers that we just are not sure how to share.
How to Provide Counseling
Suffering people seek counseling because they have already tried to fix themselves and are becoming hopeless and depressed. Sometimes all they need is someone to listen to them, other times we will need to consider all of our resources to determine the course of action.
We should counsel people by first remembering that they are a human being, created in Imago Dei. We need to remember that we are not magicians; we do not have a magic wand that can be waved to make everything perfect but we have a responsibility to God to utilize our gift of counseling. Counseling suffering people means that we need to find out where they are right now, where they want to be, and then help them move in that direction. All the while, as a Christian counselor we are seeking to show them the path to redemption.
This leads us to our second question, should the point of counseling then be to remove all suffering?
The Purpose of Counseling
I believe that the point of counseling is not to remove all suffering. The Bible says in Romans 5:3-5 “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (ESV).
With that being said, the goal of counseling should be to remove needless suffering. We need to help them find hope, we know that our hope is in the Lord, but our clients may not be at that point in their spirituality yet. It is our responsibility then to help them determine what changes they can adopt to alleviate the needless suffering, while determining the suffering that will help them build endurance to help them build character which, as the Bible promises will help them build hope.
Counseling, from my point of view
I find it difficult to accept that the goal of counseling is not to completely remove suffering. I would prefer there to be a quick, one size fits all solution for counseling. I am not planning to enter the counseling world professionally. I have no desire to explore that career field, with that being said, I counsel people every day in my day to day life. The people seeking out my services are open to the concept of Christianity.
I would find it difficult to explain why a person needs suffering. If the client believes in the truth of the Bible it would be an easy argument, the Bible says therefore it is truth and all truth is God’s truth. This becomes a satisfactory answer. If the client is not ready to accept the Bible as truth, the argument becomes more difficult, but not impossible.
Take up the challenge and help someone near you.