My friends’ four reactions to Christian counseling‘? m not sure that I should proud of writing a post that in which people are uncomfortable, upset, relieved, and well, just plain curious. But there are many, many reactions to Christian counseling and those four reactions are a good place to start.
- Uncomfortable. Some churches keep their worship and their priests behind closed doors. OK, that’s a bit much because it’s not true. But there is some truth in it. If you think of it, priests go to a seminary or bible college and don’t learn much about therapy. Pastoral counseling, but therapy, probably not. Priests who focus on pastoral counseling specialize in aged people or those who are declining in their health. In short, not much about troubled families, wild teenagers, broken marriages, depression, anxiety, and the whole host of other problems that bring people to my office. Priests are trained in a lot of other things but just not therapy. So, it’s just plain difficult to find a priest who does Christian therapy or who would know what it is.
- Upset. Just about everyone has had some exposure to being in a church. Not necessarily a good exposure but they entered a church even if by accident. And they found a lot of very moral, very law-abiding, very strict, and very rigid. Smiling is not their strong suit. On the other hand, there are wonderful people who would do just about anything to help other people. They will spontaneously say that “God loves everyone.” For the people who have not experienced that love, Christian therapy sounds like an oxymoron. It may make them want to explain the error of my ways. God keep me safe because I may need him soon.
- Relieved. When I was teaching a graduate course on family therapy, I absent-mindedly ended a class by saying “God be with you.” To my surprise, a third of the class whispered “And to you” Then, they came up and thanked me. I was puzzled until they told me that they had had their grade reduced if they showed or stated any statement from any Christian liturgy. In fact, they stated that other students glared at them and even made derisive comments. One of the Christian students told me that I had become a “safe space” for them. Never in my life had I thought of myself as creating a “safe space.”
- Curiosity. Some say that it killed the cat. I prefer to avoid that image in me doing therapy. I want the State of Florida to let me keep my office open. A young semarian told me in all earnestness that everything that she needed know about Christian Counseling could be found in the Bible. I thought that her youth was responsible for her arrogance and foolishness. Many years later, I find myself somewhat in agreement with her. Clinical research has found that the person of the therapist is the best predictor of effective therapy. And reading the Gospels has given me a good idea of how to do good therapy. Is it enough? God only knows.
Those are four reactions to Christian counseling. I promise you many more people have many more reactions to Counseling counseling. I posted a brief description of Christian counseling At this rate, I might even develop an ecourse on Christian Counseling!