Monday, September 26, 2011

Counselor Expectations: Is Change Truly Possible?

Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann has received much criticism in recent months regarding the practices espoused by the Christian counseling business she and her husband own.  Former clients have testified that counselors at Bachmann & Associates support the practice of reparative therapy, a type of therapy which attempts to change the behavior and attraction of clients practicing gay lifestyles.  While Bachmann's husband would not comment on any specific techniques used for individual clients through the counseling agency, he has stated his personal belief that homosexual practices can be changed. 

Although a simple observation, it is worthwhile to note that the counselors employed through Bachmann & Associates expect change in the lives of their clients.  Regardless of the issue at hand, in this case homosexuality, the topic of the counselor's expectations for client change is a critical and relevant area for counselors today to address.  In his controversial book, How to Help People Change: The Four-Step Biblical Process, Jay Adams discusses the crucial nature of the counselor's expectations regarding client progress.

According to Adams, before authentic change can take place in the life of the client, the client must believe that change is truly possible.  And before the client can believe in the possibility of genuine change, the counselor must impart to the client a belief in his or her capacity to change. Without this crucial element, change will never take place, and effective counseling cannot occur.  In fact, Adams states that without a biblically-based belief in the possibility of change, a counselor would do well to find a new vocation. 

After reading Adams' book, I'm left wondering, "How much do I truly believe that change is possible, whatever the situation?" If I actually believed in God's power to change any life, wouldn't that significantly impact the way I interact with others? I know that it would. So doubts I harbor, I must cast at the feet of the One who is truly able to change lives. 

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