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Not All Counselors Are Created Equal

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There is a huge amount of diversity in how counselors view the therapy process. On one end of the spectrum you will find therapists who see clients for 3-5 sessions and primarily focus on their thoughts and behaviors. Traveling deeper along that spectrum you will find counselors who acknowledge the impact of emotions, history and personality. Moving even deeper will bring you to a place that acknowledges the depth of the human soul. These counselors wield a perspective which views the external in terms of the deep internal. All of our thoughts, emotions, behaviors and relational patterns are signs of what lies beneath. Without a recognition of our depth, counseling becomes little more then symptom management. It devolves into tips and tricks for handling life’s circumstances.

This shallow approach to counseling is what gives it a reputation for being all about “good advice.” Good counseling is not about good advice. In fact, it isn’t about advice at all. This is what separates a counselor interested in depth work from all the rest. When you sit with a good counselor, you will be invited to see your self in a way you had not before. We all develop blindness to our very self. We struggle to accurately see ourselves and experience our own depth. In turn, good Christian counseling is an experience that should invite us to be present with our self, in the presence of God.

As with other Christian things, counseling should not be characterized by tips and tricks that are linked to scripture. Rather, good counseling should be an invitation to depth. Our depth, the depth of this world and the depth of God. Thomas Merton said, “there is in all things… a hidden wholeness.” Counseling invites us into the process of pursuing that wholeness before God.

So, what does that mean for your selection of a counselor? It means that you want a professional who recognizes the deep work involved in exploring the depths of the human soul. It means finding a therapist that will honor your request for a behavioral fix, while inviting you to much more. It means finding a counselor who is acquainted with pain and grief and can sit calmly in the presence of your pain.

This is not an easy thing to find. Our culture is therapy rich and depth poor. We have plenty of self-help books, therapeutic television shows and New Year’s resolutions. We are not lacking in people willing to offer us a solution to our problems. But, we are lacking in people who are willing to sit with us in our disappointment, to lament with us. To walk with us as we pursue our true self. And to recognize that more often than not the so-called solutions are really band-aids on deep cuts.

So, if you find the need for a season of counseling, do it with someone who can journey with you deep into your soul. Many walk away from counseling frustrated and disappointed. They were offered quick fixes from a narrow view of the human experience. Our counseling center regularly sees clients that report their surprise to us. Having previously tried counseling, they are surprised by how much depth they possess. They talk about being asked questions they have never been asked before. They talk about seeing themselves in a new light and understanding their relationships in a new way. They speak of meeting their true self and in turn, experiencing God in a fresh way. They are speaking about the difference between surface level fixes and a deep soul journey.

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