Friday, August 24, 2012

God is essential to the helping relationship

I'm taking a class called Counselor Professional Identity, Function, and Ethics.  Every week we have to write a little on something we've learned.  I draw from two books, which are cited at the bottom, one called Competent Christian Counseling and one called Psychology, Theology, and Spirituality.  I think it's an important message for counselors and for Christians alike.  Please take a minute to read what I wrote.

This week I want to share about the  importance of including Christ in the helping relationship with people. Competent Christian Counseling (p. 38) quotes another book by McMinn (1997, p. 17) that has a passage that encourages counselors to include religious experiences and spirituality into sessions because they are a very important part of the human experience. McMinn charges us to realize that our goal shouldn’t be changing behaviors, rather, bringing spirituality and God into the healing process in that person’s life (p. 17). Most people in counseling are coming for a sense of rest, freedom, and stability and that is something that our spirituality brings. Psalm 62:1-2 and many other verses in the Bible tell us that our soul finds rest in God and that God is our refuge and strength (NIV). If we are to bring rest, stability, and freedom into a counseling session, our clients must explore their spirituality in regards to God. 
I found it interesting that Clinton and Ohlschlager quoted Isaiah 62:1-2 because I had been thinking about those verses for a while now (2003, p. 32). I would include verse 3 because it really paints the picture better. The first two verses tell us as counselors about our calling, but verse 3 tells us that we have that calling so God can create “oaks of righteousness” so that His glory can be seen (NIV). I’ve been thinking about it, because, yes I have those callings, but it isn’t even about me and what I can do, rather what God wants to build up and grow in our clients. 
Therefore, it’s essential for us to realize, that our work will be meaningless unless we help people come into a life-changing relationship with God. We should focus less on changing behaviors and people, and more on introducing people to God, who through the Holy Spirit can bring real change into people’s lives and release them from their bondage to sin.

Clinton, T., & Ohlschlager, G. (2003). Competent christian counseling. (Vol. 1). New York, NY: Waterbrook Press.
 McMinn, M. (1997) Psychology, Theology, and Spirituality. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.
Basically the idea is that if we are trying to help people, it's all in vain without the healing power of God.  God can bring the rest, peace, and strength that people need, we can't bring those to our clients.  Also, since we aren't capable of changing people and their ways, the Holy Spirit is key in changing who they are and what they do.

There is strength and change that comes with a relationship with God.  My job is in vain if I don't include that life-changing force in my work.

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