And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. (Rom 5:3-6)

Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me, O Lord GOD of hosts; let not those who seek you be brought to dishonor through me, O God of Israel. (Psalm 69:6)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

An Overview of Biblical Counseling Part 2 The Role of the Counselor

The role of the counselor in counseling

            The counselor should see their own personal need of constant discipleship.  It behooves the counselor to be humble and sympathetic with the shortcomings and sins of his counselee.  Quite often dealing with other people’s sins will bring about a revelation of our own personal condition.  God can greatly use this in the life of a counselor to improve his abilities.

The counselor’s attitude should be that of an ambassador of God.  Essentially they are a bridge of understanding for the one who needs encouragement, direction, and explanations of the grace of God.  For a counselor to be effective he or she must be equipped with many additional characteristics.  A heart of empathy, an unbiased attitude, and skill at being firm yet establishing hope are all indispensable.

            A shepherding counselor seeks to honor God and love the counselee by dealing with the cause of the problems, not just the symptoms.  And no better imagery comes to mind than that of shepherd.  As in Psalm 23, the counselor is taking a suffering person and leading them step by step through valleys and pastures, training them in righteousness.  The counselor will answer to God for his faithfulness to the bible as God’s word for life. 

To be effective, the counselor calls sin sin.[1]  We must remember that language is important to biblical counseling.  He does not soften the reality of transgressing against God.  In the same context the counselor does not soften the abundant forgiveness and restoration of God when one repents.

            Each week it is the counselor who evaluates the progress of the counselee.  This is critical to giving hope as well as keeping the student on track for success.  Many counselees will try to manipulate situations or dominate the discussion.  The counselor however must be keen to these diversions and prepared to keep the goal of sanctification in sight.

            Because the counselee is looking to a counselor for help, the counselor must again be humble and a man or woman and of impeccable character.  They should posse great listening skills and communication practices.  Patience will also be required as they attempt to train sinners in righteousness while being a sinner themselves.  The problems of counselees will weigh heavy upon their own hearts and will reveal their personal sinfulness. 

            That being said, the counselor must be someone who has a solid theology, knowledge of the word, and of prayer.  An excellent counselor is one who has experienced deliverance from a gripping sinful habit, and recognizes their present shortfalls.

            Counselors are the pace setters of the weekly meetings.  Many counselees come to a biblical counselor after having experiences with secular psychologists.  Some will tell the counselor their previous and self diagnosis.  Counselees that have accepted the labels of psychology will need to see how God views them.  Others will inadvertently command much of the session time by zealously talking about their thoughts on the matters at hand.  These presuppositions of the counselee can become problematic.  They tend to focus on problems rather than solutions.  By monopolizing the time they are in effect avoiding the truth and listening only to what they want to hear.  The role of the counselor is to pilot the ship of sanctification.  The counselor needs to be aware of these pitfalls to progress and should lovingly but firmly direct each step of the process.

            In all that the counselor does it is essential that they build hope into the life of the counselee.  Through theology, listening, and even confrontation, the counselor, equipped by God, can see incredible results through the building of hope.  Without instilling hope the disciple will give up.  With hope from the counselor they will exercise faith and persevere in the trials ahead.  The counselor’s most direct access to the heart is with the hope found in the scriptures.

[1] What the bible calls sin a counselor should call sin.  It lessens the severity of the offense against God to call adultery an affair.  By agreeing with God in the language of the bible the counselee can begin to see the widespread consequences of their sin as not only against their victim, but even more so against God.

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