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The headlines and stories of any newspaper today are literally littered with reports of theft, murders, rapes, domestic violence, child abuse, economic woes, bankruptcies, corruption, wars and other malicious maladies that are affecting our world today. We also see the outcome of these persistent problems which includes suicides, divorces, abortions, diseases, stress, anger, grief and depression. Whilst most of these issues may have been in existence for a long time, the frequency of their occurrences have exponentially increased over the last few decades. Unfortunately, this is not exclusive to the secular world, for it have also found itself a niche of a smaller scale in churches scattered across the face of the earth. To help deal with these concerns, counselling can be very instrumental to those who need help to overcome the urge to do wrong or escape the valley of depression or to just simply cope with the ever-changing motion called life. According to a UNESCO Training Module on Counselling in Africa, counselling is defined as “a learning-oriented process, which occurs usually in an interactive relationship, with the aim of helping a person learn more about the self, and to use such understanding to enable the person to become an effective member of society”1. A much simpler definition is the “guidance offered by social workers, doctors, etc., to help a person resolve social or personal problems.”2 From a biblical perspective, it is much more than that. It includes being able to give help to the counselee through the Word, the guidance of the Holy Spirit and an established relationship with Jesus Christ. At the heart of the matter is the specific needs of the counselee. Everyone have different problems to deal with. All with different situations and varying intensities. And everyone has different ways of responding and dealing with an exact situation. Not everyone can respond effectively to a generalized speech, an advice, a publication or an online reading about a particular circumstance. This is one of the reasons why individual counselling by a minister can be more effective than a sermon. It creates a two-way communication whereby the minister can get a better understanding of the counselee’s character and background. Discussions of the counselee’s very private struggles can begin and be dealt with through in-depth and thorough advice. The individual gets a clearer and comprehensive understanding of their situation that brings about more sounder and more permanent solutions. The example of Jesus’ individual ministry to the Samaritan woman, Zacchaeus, Nicodemus, blind Bartimaeus and even His disciples was very valuable and life-changing.3
Nigel-Wayne Williams Once the problem is expressed clearly by the counselee, the counsellor can dispense proper advise to them. The counsellor must be able to identify the type of dilemma that the individual face and hence find the most suitable solution to it. Counselling for a marriage would differ from divorce counselling. The approach to grief would be significantly different to that of depression. Some people might need group counselling instead of individual counselling according to their predicament. The counsellor must be wise enough to determine the proper avenue in which to address the situation. Jay E. Adams, author of Competent to Counseling, strongly believes that there can be no counselling without the Holy Spirit. Even Jesus Christ acknowledged Him as the Counsellor. The counsellor/minister must avail himself to the direction of the Holy Spirit and encourage the counselee to do the same.4 The Word of God is the manual by which all men should live by and the Holy Spirit makes the Word alive in the hearts of men. Every time the gospel is heard, seeds of the Word are planted in the hearts of man and the Holy Spirit nurtures this seed. Pertaining to social ills, secular counselling, like the Freudian doctrine, allows blame to placed on external factors (giving the excuse of the counselee being the product of their environment) rather than getting an introspective view of the individual’s life and accepting that he/she is responsible for their own demise. The instinct of man can then be made to do whatever comes natural to him instead of allow his conscience to curb his impulses.5 This is why homosexuality, abortions, divorces, cursing, sexual promiscuity and worship of celebrities are accepted by today’s society. From a Christian perspective, this is all caused by sin. It spills over from this to be the reason for the many murders, serial killings and raping that are occurring today. As a counsellor, one must identify the causes of practices and bring about a deeper understanding of its consequences to the counselee so that a rational decision can be made in order to remedy it. Adams (2009) even went as far to say that mental illness in the world today stems from unresolved personal problems that the individual continues to sidestep and ignore. 6 As in the case of Leo Held, a seemingly steady Christian guy who everyone looked up to, who , after dropping his kids to school and wife to work, proceeded to his workplace, shot and killed some of his co-workers, and returned home to shoot and kill his neighbours.7 It was discovered that rage has been building up over the years towards these people. Because it wasn’t dealt with, rage consumed Leo Held and caused him to commit such heinous and calculated crime. If this was addressed through counselling, matters would have been resolved and this tragic incident would have never taken place. Advantages of counselling today includes the opportunity for the counsellor/minister to gain experience in how to deal with everyday problems and to be a more efficient help
Nigel-Wayne Williams to those who are really in need. Also, it facilitates the minister as to what topics can be addressed in his sermons for the benefit of the congregation and public who are going through the same ordeal. It also help direct his/her prayers as to what to specifically intercede for. Proverbs 4:23 (KJV) states, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life”. Man is responsible for the architecture of the society and life in general. Counselling can bring about the positive change that God has intended for mankind to live by. Counsellors are therefore urged to attend to the matters of the heart by utilizing God’s Word in the counselling sessions and encouraging the counselee to allow the Holy Spirit to guide them. In doing so, society would also change to the benefit of everyone and for the honour and glory of God.
Nigel-Wayne Williams Reference 1. UNESCO (2001) Module 2: Counselling, Zambia Available from: http://www.unesco.org/education/mebam/module_2.pdf [cited 10 February 2012] 2. Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged (2003) [online], HarperCollins Publishers. Available from: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/counselling [cited 10 February 2012] 3. Narramore, Clyde (1960) The Psychology of Counseling (pg 11-13) [online], Zondervan Publishing House [cited 10 February 2012] 4. Adams, Jay E. (2009) Competent to Counsel: Introduction to Nouthetic Counseling (pg 19-25) [Kindle ebook], Zondervan. 5. Adams, Jay E. (2009) Competent to Counsel: Introduction to Nouthetic Counseling (pg 8-18) [Kindle ebook], Zondervan. 6. Adams, Jay E. (2009) Competent to Counsel: Introduction to Nouthetic Counseling (pg 28) [Kindle ebook], Zondervan. 7. Leonard, Lee (1967) Gun Toting Lab Worker Kills 6 [online], The Pittsburgh Press, October 24th, pg 1, pg 6 Available from: http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1144&dat=19671023&id=Q2EqAAAAIB AJ&sjid=k08EAAAAIBAJ&pg=7255,3468310 [cited 10 February 2012]
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