Friday, April 5, 2013
Christ in the counseling room.
I’d like to use my opportunity to post on the blog to talk about something that was inspired by class yesterday, although it was not exactly a topic discussed. I’d like to bring up how I felt when we were doing role playing. This was my first time actually doing a face to face type of counseling role playing, and the first time I have seen role playing in class. Can I be honest about how I felt as the counselor? Basically: inadequate. I want to bring this up in case anyone else felt inadequate, and I want to give some encouragement.
I frantically thought to myself as my fellow classmate was talking to me, trying to think of how to process and case conceptualize and think of the perfectly appropriate thing to say to make her see the light. How would this or that theorist approach this situation? How do I be culturally appropriate in this situation? What are the ethics of this situation? Should I report what this person is telling me? WWJD? As I’m having a mini crisis, my counselee is waiting for my response, and I still have no idea what the right thing to say is.
I really, truthfully realized yesterday that I am inadequate to always say the right thing in the right situation at the right time. No matter how hard I strive, I can never actually change a person with my words. There isn’t even a “right” thing to say because isn’t that subjective anyways? I try to fit the human experience into a box when it does not fit in a box; I want it to fit so that it will make more sense to me and be more tangible somehow. Instead though, I just have a jumbled brain and nothing of true value to say during role playing.
And I felt the Spirit of the Lord speak to my heart: This is not about you having the right words to say. This is about Me speaking through you, to bring glory unto Myself.
I am just the vessel.
In the book Competent Christian Counseling, Clinton and Ohlschlager have many profound and incredibly helpful things to say about what it means to be a Christian Counselor. One of my absolute favorite points of the book can be summed up in this quote on page 6:
“Myriad promises and elaborate plans exist to help people find nirvana, strike it rich, reach some super consciousness, change the world, or attain true inner peace. Then there is the call of Christ. Jesus’ timeless message still trumpets in its hallowed, outrageous offense: ‘I bid you come and die.’ But in that dying something else is reborn: new life in the present and the seed of eternal life to come... Only Jesus, the God-man, living in us through his Holy Spirit, can make this life happen.”
In this class, and in this book, it seems to me that the overriding point is this: that the heart of life, and the heart of counseling for Christians is the Gospel. Clinton and Ohlschlager time and time again emphasize that it is the love of Jesus Christ that should saturate and permeate every aspect of the ministry of counseling, not be a compartmentalized portion of our own personal lives. They say that the promise of Christian counseling is that the hope and the power of Christ is present; it is God who heals, redeems, save, and renews the lives of clients. What they say in the book is that God actually miraculously intervenes in counseling sessions, and He takes what is dead and broken and gives it new life. When we allow God to be a part of the counseling process and ask Him to speak through us, He actually does.
So, how does this apply to us directly as Christian counselors? I personally need to stop obsessing about over-analyzing every little thing about the subjective things that exist in the counseling profession. Sometimes, it is easier to try to understand the world and people according to theories and concepts than it is to trust that God will equip us to do what He has called us to. I definitely am not saying to be an incompetent counselor and neglect professionalism or not strive to do the best we can do. It is also very important that we know where we stand, and know what we believe about theories, etc. However, the problem is that when it becomes about us trying to be good enough, we are neglecting the Spirit of God trying to work through us. (Plus, we will always fall short, as displayed in my frantic bit of role playing). And when it becomes about us and our personal ability, it ceases to be about Him and his glory. I think that God wants to be more than a part of what we are doing in counseling; I think that God wants to speak through us and use us in miraculous and incredible ways. So, there's no reason to feel inadequate, because HE is more than adequate.