When we meet with counseling clients we frequently got unsolicited updates about what another counselor (allegedly) told them! Some of these comments range truly from the sublime to the ridiculous but over the years, I’ve learned to have a full shaker of salt at hand just in case!
As NCCA-Licensed Clinical Pastoral Counselors in a counseling and deliverance ministry, we purpose that our worldview is biblically based and that the word of God is our top counseling “tool”. Given that people can seek help in many places before coming to us, we expect that some of the other counsel clients have received may conflict significantly from our own.
One memorable exchange involved a man who was recently free from prison and who was trying to stay free from molesting children again. He had sought help from a secular (government) counselor and his direction was for our client to have a homosexual encounter so that he would not be motivated to go back to children!
That advice was disheartening to him and fortunately he knew enough about bible and the power of God to realize that was not the answer. The problem had spiritual roots he believed and needed a spiritual solution. He went through our ministry and we were able to help him!
Sometimes it is the advice from Christian counselors (again, relayed second hand) that has gotten my attention. I can appreciate the reality that there are different levels of training, competency, belief systems and more at work in all of us who presume to use that designation.
I believe that much of the alleged counsel were misquotes, incomplete or were at least was taken out of context. Sadly, I have also come to understand that some significant percentage of Christian therapists have veered away from biblical principles, have embraced worldly or medical “truths” and are taking their clients down that path.
They may use a few Scriptures as backfill, if at all and even more sadly I hear regular accounts where prayer is not part of the session at all! I say this with great sadness because, for the most part, medicine nor the ways of the world rarely have the answers people need!
Here are some second hand quotes that come quickly to mind (I’m going to start writing them down):
- “You need to leave that woman (or man). She’s (or he’s) crazy.”
- “Maybe you need to be on medication” (Sorry, I have a problem with this one! That’s the medical professions preferred path and it’s a Band-Aid at best!)
- “Maybe you should try yoga.”
- “He/she’s never going to change”.
I know from personal experience that we can be misquoted, either intentionally or out of context. An angry woman confronted me on the telephone over a comment that her boyfriend alleged that I made about her. She said I told him that she had a controlling spirit working in her life. The incident happened a long time ago and I remember it only for the fact that I never would have used those words to her boyfriend! She may indeed have had that spirit but sometimes people hear what they want to hear and then speak it back to whoever will listen!
Bottom line for me is that I am very careful about digesting the second hand quotes of others, particularly as they relate to my brothers and sisters in the counseling ministry. We all walk in the light and knowledge that we have about Christ and the power of the Cross. I try to deflect it if possible and if I believe the messenger I will gracefully disagree, explain why according to the bible, and try to move on to how I can best help that person.
Have you had experiences with Christian Counselors who told you things or gave you advice or counsel that did not bear witness with the Holy Spirit or the word of God?