Getting Your Counseling Right
In counseling, as in marriage, unmet expectations have a direct effect on our sense of available hope. Likewise, expectations that are fulfilled, at least to some measurable degree, tend to put wind back in our sails, leaving us encouraged about the direction things are heading.
Expectations, and the proper setting of them, are the topic of this short post. Whether you're just getting started in counseling at Baylight, or you're five sessions in, we want you to have healthy expectations for what your counseling can or cannot accomplish.
The following two lists are general in nature, and are not intended to be exhaustive of all the possibiliities. But, we hope they will get you thinking about your counseling, and what your expectations, stated or unstated, might be.
Five Things Your Counseling Is Not
1. Your counseling is not intended to replace the proper role of the church and her God-given pastor-shepherds in your life.
2. Your counseling is not intended to replace the proper role of competent medical care for issues pertaining to your physical body.
3. Your counseling is not intended to dissolve or resolve in "three easy sessions" the life dominating issues that led you to counseling in the first place (although we might pray for as short a course as the Lord would allow).
4. Your counseling is not intended to provide a venue wherein your tightly held positions and opinions on any given topic will necessarily be affirmed over-against your relational opponent (any person with whom you have a disagreement).
5. Your counseling is not intended to provide a counselor who is both omniscient and omnicompetent (but they will point you repeatedly to the One who is).
Five Things Your Counseling Is
1. Your counseling is intended to provide for you, over time, a fresh perspective of your troubling circumstances and potential pathways forward that are faithful to the Scriptures.
2. Your counseling is intended to take into account the fact that to be human is to possess both a body and a soul, thus providing a holistic account of your story.
3. Your counseling is intended to empower and equip you to live and think biblically on your own as you grow in faith, steadily decreasing any felt reliance on your counselor, while steadily increasing your trust in God's promises.
4. Your counseling is intended to require your active participation and engagement, faithfully attending your scheduled appointments and completing assigned homework.
5. Your counseling is intended to help you find meaning, purpose, and value in the sufferings and traumas of this life, leanring that God wastes nothing in the life a believer.
We hope the two preceding lists, short as they are, will encourage you to think carefully about your expectations for counseling. Reasonable expecations, held in proper balance, can position both you and your counselor to work together toward Christ-centered, Gospel-driven change.
If you have any questions about what you've read here, please don't hesitate to ask.
At Baylight, we encourage and welcome this type of open dialogue about what it means to succeed in our work of "caring for souls."