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)
Saturday, January 21, 2012
An Overview of Biblical Counseling Part 6 Essential Areas of Thought for the Counselor to Address
Essentials areas of thought for the counselor to address
The counselor will do well to incorporate theology and doctrine into the discipleship of the counselee. Theology is crucial here. It is the pattern and plan of knowing God and His expectations. The counselor helps the counselee build a biblical framework of theology that finds its roots and branches connecting other doctrines and thus enriching the entire life of the counselee. This helps the counselee to glorify God and to grow beyond the period of counseling. It opens their heart to the vast intricacies of God. Theology essentially shows the cause and relationship between the various teachings of the bible. It helps the counselee to stand like a tree firmly planted by a stream in the storms and drought of life.
The counselor, by way of biblical authority is fulfilling the great commission. As we are to go and make disciples the counselor is helping people to grow in grace. Not only is he sharing the gospel, he is living it out alongside fellow Christians. The essence of the result is that the counselee becomes aware and adept at solving other sinful patterns in life and in turn should help disciple others.
The authority of the Bible and the role of the Holy Spirit
One of the first and foremost doctrines that the biblical counselor operates from is the authority of scripture. It is related as God’s word. It is therefore inerrant and applicable in every day growth. Being the word of God it is the sole authority on dealing with sin. The biblical counselor aims to deal with the sins that are the root problem of the counselee. As the authority of God’s word is established, that sin separates us from God, and is the root cause of most problems, then we can fully address the solutions God had wrought through the cross. If a counselee has a high view of sin they consequently have a low view of God. The gap between is often the measure of how they perceive their need for God. Reverse these effects and the gap widens. It is a wide gap between man and God, once recognized drives the Christian in love and devotion to God.
Often people come to biblical counseling after the failures of other methods to address and resolve their problems. Scripture plays a vital role at this very point. Whereas the counselee has failed and may have an “I can’t” attitude, scripture says that in Christ they can success. We need to use scriptures such as 1 Corinthians 10:12 to illustrate that though they may be tempted, God will not allow something to push then into sin. The response to temptation is their choice. The same verse assures us that in turning to Him we can overcome, we can stand against what is befalling us. We also can turn the person to James chapter one for a long list of truths that will help us in our fight against the trials of life.
Just as Jesus said “that we would know the truth and the truth would set us free”, biblical counseling takes its directives from the truth of scripture. In this manner we are truly getting to the heart of a person’s life and giving them a true solution. This methodology does even more. It creates a worship of God in both spirit and in truth.
The authority of the bible gives validity to the means with which the biblical counselor counsels. Without this, counseling becomes opinion and short lived.
The Holy Spirit is not to be belittled in counseling. He is our Supreme Counselor. It is only He who can take information and turn it into a conviction. Thus when we are counseling a person we must emphasize the Spirit’s role. By turning a person to John chapters 14 through 17 we can equip the counselee with the promises of God to help. When this is coupled with the truths of Romans chapter 8 there is sufficient encouragement to both depend upon and credit the Holy Spirit. It ought to be considered essential that the counselor walk with the counselee into an abiding union with the Holy Spirit. The counselee ought to come to understand that the Spirit helps us understand scripture and enables us to pray. He also is our conscience. We need to heed the promptings of the Spirit that will come evermore apparent in our lives when we seek His holiness. Without the activity of the Holy Spirit our efforts may work a temporary effect, but will ultimately fail to change our character. As a matter of fact, if we engage in Biblical counseling without a true presence of God in our lives we will often work a great determent to the counselee.
The Sanctification process
One of the tenants of scripture for Christians is the ongoing sanctification process. This is why biblical counseling can also be called discipleship. We find in the process of turning form the old man to the new (sanctification) that we all are incomplete and in need of change in some area. This should also call us to humility and to not look down on one another, but to be redemptive. The counselor needs to teach that the Christian life is a process. This will greatly aid the counselee in their frustrations and expectations. It needs to be shown that justification is a one time event, and sanctification is an opportunity to glorify God in lifelong perseverance. Therefore, it is essential that the counselor equip the counselee with the tools for growth over a long haul of life rather than a temporary victory.
The bible speaks about habit. Since habit is a reflection of character, and character is at the root of our problems, a counselor need to address the doctrine of habit in a counselee’s life. A counselor can illustrate the good, bad, and neutral forms of habit. Since counselees come for help in changing their lives, it will help them greatly to understand the habitual patterns that lead them to failure. But again, information is not enough. In order to change a habit a new practice must replace the old. This is the essence of the renewing of the mind and put on and put offs. It is also formative to the counselee to both put on practices of right thinking and to amputate the very means of sin.
One key essential in counseling is what we call Radical amputation. Radical amputation is a term given to “cutting off one’s hand or plucking out one’s eye” when it causes them to sin. Obviously this is hyperbole. A person will still sin in the heart even if these gateways are blocked. But the idea is to completely remove the temptations and the feeding of sinful habits. An example of this would be removing a computer from a person’s home if they sin through internet pornography. The counselor must take this action to help the counselee remove gateways to sin. If a person is having an affair at work they may need to not only break off the relationship, but also seek a transfer or new employment. When a counselee is serious about honoring God they will deny self and take the necessary steps of repentance.
Emotions and Response
Emotions are strong forces. A counselor will find it essential at some point to discuss the role they play in changing the heart. Many people become enslaved to their emotions and use them as excuses for their behavior. Distrust is an example of an emotion a wife may have against her adulterous husband. She may even say that his presence in the home is a source of stress. We need to counsel the woman on how she lets her emotions get in the way of reconciliation and restoration. Some emotions such as anger, brooding, and jealousy are more easily seen. Some emotions, such as panic attacks, are more difficult to explain as not being actual physical factors.
Since people respond with emotions to every situation we need to illustrate that to be children of God we must respond biblically rather than sinfully. Emotional responses may be habitual. They also often drive our decision making for quick fixes or self serving means. The goal of the counselor is to bring the counselee to a greater maturity in Christ in that we respond as James and Paul says with joy in the various trials.