FOR A CHRISTIAN COUNSELOR?
2005 by Jim Robinson
is a strange profession.
have an office. People who initially don’t know me from
Adam come to see me, often referred by their minister or a
friend. Sometimes they come under some sort of duress, going
through the motions to appease a spouse or a parent, or maybe
a court judge. In these cases, our visits are usually exercises
in futility; unless someone is convinced he needs help, he
is, for the most part, immune from it.
more often than not, people come because they feel they have
nowhere else to turn. They have tried different things, like
reading self-help books or swallowing anti-depressants, changing
lovers or changing jobs, buying more toys or exercising, going
to strip joints or joining a cult. They have tried running
away from church or towards church, and they have prayed and
been prayed for, and they have felt better for a while.
then it comes again: this sense of separation, of disconnection,
of emptiness, of feeling strangely less than safe. And so,
sometimes, they find their way to an office like mine, or,
more likely, God finds their way for them. And in walk these
people, usually somewhat fearfully, their eyes always looking
somewhere other than into mine. At first we start with small
talk such as “How about all this rain” or “The
traffic is just terrible,” or some such stuff.
then. Then, against all odds and reason, sometimes something
happens. And although some counselors might claim their own
therapeutic wizardry as its cause, it is for me always a mostly
inexplicable thing, a God thing: This total stranger, who
has come to sit on my couch for the most mysterious of reasons
suddenly begins to tell me the most intimate details about
her life. For reasons known only to Him, God intervenes, and
this frightened person finally makes a bit of eye contact
with me, and decides it is safe here. Though not quite
sure why, she decides to jump. She shares with me her
darkest soul-secrets, her dreams and desires, her fantasies
and fears… and somehow, through the most gifted of all
Interpreters, she and I find a common voice, a communion of
spiritual language. We connect. We share together,
and sometimes—if the person is willing to experience
such a bizarre thing—we pray together.
the presence of the Holy Spirit—the Great Counselor—the
healing begins, right then and there, through us and in spite
of us. And in some unfathomable way, we become Christ to
RIGHT ONE FOR YOU
you been considering seeking the help of a Christian counselor?
Or have you tried counseling in the past, but been disappointed
in the experience? Whatever your situation, I hope this article
encourages you not to give up in the search for a therapist
who can help bring healing and wholeness to your life.
friend told me the other day about how he and his wife had
gone through a disastrous experience while having their new
house built. “Everything that could possibly go wrong
did go wrong,” he said with a sigh. “The
contractor turned out to be completely inept and dishonest.
The whole thing was a nightmare. And the strangest part of
all,” he said, sadly shaking his head as if still in
disbelief, “the guy was a Christian.”
guess is most believers, including myself, have made similar
mistakes: the church-going mechanic who rips us off and stares
us dead in the eye while denying it; the deacon who shamelessly
sells us a lemon-whatever; or the Sunday School teacher who
assured us she knew all about wallpapering, screwed
up the job, and refused to give back the money. This happens
a lot to Christians, I think, because we want to believe our
brothers and sisters in the flock will love us and never hurt
us. So, we tend to make rather broad judgments regarding people’s
character. We assume that if someone is in our “Christianity
club,” they will by virtue of membership undoubtedly
portray in their daily lives and work all the virtues of Christ.
This happened to my friend when he chose a contractor based
at least to some extent on his professed Christianity. This
man might very well have been a fine Christian. But he was
a terrible builder.
same dilemma rings true in all human-run endeavors, and it
is true in the field of counseling, too. Many of us, when
we find ourselves hurting with a hurt too deep to treat ourselves,
reach out for a hand from someone who is supposed to know
how to help us. Maybe they do, and maybe they don’t.
IS A COUNSELOR?
Bible gives us several uses of the word ‘counselor.’
Proverbs 11:14 and 15:22 indicate an adviser, and 2 Samuel
15:12 a king’s state counselor. The word is used once
to describe the Messiah (Isa. 9:6). In Mark 15:43 and Luke
23:50, the word probably means a member of the Jewish Sanhedrin.
all that springs from the brokenness of man, human counsel
is often less than wise. Still, Scripture tells us of our
need for connecting with others in order to attain the emotional
clarity God wants for us:
is joy to him that is void of wisdom; but a man of understanding
maketh straight his going. Where there is no counsel, purposes
are disappointed; but in the multitude of counselors, they
are established. A man hath joy in the answer of his mouth;
and a word in due season, how good is it! To the wise the
way of life goeth upward, that he may depart from Sheol beneath.
the Word and Spirit of God are the best counselors for the
wounded soul. When seeking His wisdom from another human being,
then, we must first bathe our search process in prayer, asking
Him to lead us to someone who will be right for our individual
needs. All of the earthly factors should be considered: training,
professional accreditation, personality, and, depending on
your feelings about such things, his or her religious leanings.
Then there are pragmatic considerations like fees and insurance
issues. But beyond all this, I think, we as Christians must
seek something in the counselor far more essential to healing
than all the Ph.D.’s put together: Giftedness.
DO I BEGIN?
the right counselor is like finding the right spouse. Okay,
maybe not; we won’t have to actually live with the person,
thank God. But a client-therapist relationship does carry
with it a sort of emotional intimacy, and you should not be
afraid to SHOP for just the right person. Despite the glowing
reviews from friends or pastors, or the impressive walls covered
with degrees and awards, automatically assuming this is the
place God intends for you to begin the healing process can
be dangerous. A sign hanging on a door reading “Christian
Counseling Center” does not guarantee the presence of
gifted therapists inside the building. It’s not that
one counselor is necessarily better than another, only
that there might be one better for you.
It makes sense to do your homework beforehand, of course.
A good place to start is the
Links page of my web site. When you find a good possibility,
make an appointment. As you talk to this person during the
initial meeting, open your heart to what God is saying: Is
this someone with whom you will feel safe enough to bare your
deepest wounds? Does he not only profess to understand—and
practice—his own walk with Christ, but reflect back
to you the real love of Jesus? Does she seem not only willing
to teach, but to share in your journey of healing?
Does she seem capable of connecting with you?
a believer, searching for a Christian therapist is a logical
starting point. But don’t assume one’s faith alone
makes him or her the right choice for you.
you’ve never sought help from a counselor before, or
if you’ve tried to do so but been disappointed, this
whole process is more than likely going to be a bit scary
for you. Ask God to lead, guide, and protect you. Ask for
discernment once you are sitting face to face with the counselor.
Ultimately, a gifted counselor will keep one ear on the client,
and the other ear on God.
the client and the counselor embark on a journey… with
Christ leading the way. In my office, I’m privileged
to experience this regularly. We begin by surrendering our
strongholds, taking the false gods of shame and fear to the
cross and laying them there at the Master’s feet. Together,
we examine the false truths—many of which developed
early in our lives—that cause us so much loss and pain.
We learn how Satan uses these tools to maintain a powerful
veil of deception before our eyes, disconnecting us from ourselves,
others, and ultimately, from Him. For many of us, the way
to wellness begins with a journey into our own pasts, asking
God to reveal the secret wounds that have negatively affected
our lives since childhood. We seek the long-hidden answers
to the questions within that for so long have dragged us down
into isolation. Together, we join hands and lock eyes, and
look deeply into the Mystery of Faith… and call upon
the one true Source of love and healing.
come together as strangers. But, by sharing our secret selves,
we become empowered to receive the restorative touch of Jesus,
the Healer of our hearts, and the Lover of our souls. Where
two or more are gathered in His name, miracles happen. The
dark secrets of our souls, exposed in the brilliant Light
of Christ, will wither and vanish.
need only have the courage to let go… and let God heal
our broken spirit.