Wise Counsel: Help when it's needed

by Maureen Poland
Posted on 1st October 2009

As Christians we will always be in the firing line. By just identifying ourselves with Christ we are open to the attack of Satan. This may arise in personal problems, work related problems or relationship problems with other people. Being Christians does not change the fact that we experience the same problems as those who are not. Some Christians may feel that they only have to give these problems to God through prayer, believing that God is the Divine Counsellor. God is also the Divine Healer but often uses medical doctors to aid healing. God has, in fact, equipped Christian counsellors with skills that help their fellow Christian to understand the situation he/she may be battling with and provide support for the way ahead.

God gave us a wonderful complex body which contains the spiritual, physical and psychological. He is able to meet all the needs of the body but has also provided trained professionals to be called on when the body is sick. The pastor, vicar or church leader can administer help for our spiritual needs. In the same way counsellors are able to provide a service to help us when we face problems that seem insurmountable and no-one appears to have a solution. Sometimes the problem is too big or too embarrassing for us to disclose it to our nearest and dearest. Some problems are too precious to be shared with just anybody and need to be given a safe environment in which to be expressed.

At times life's obstacles get in the way and rob us of the delights that God has to offer

In John 10:10 Jesus said 'My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life'. As Christians we want to experience this rich and satisfying life but at times life's obstacles get in the way and rob us of the delights that God has to offer.

Servants of God are in the front line and many find themselves in a place of 'burn out'. Their zeal and determination to serve God are wonderful assets but can leave them isolated and lonely with no one to turn to when the going gets rough.

Counselling enables us to understand ourselves, our own strengths and weaknesses and helps us to be a more rounded individual. It allows one to explore the dynamics of relationships which can be confusing and hopefully help us to see things that may until this point be clouded. Our problems can be shared with friends, family or fellow Christians but sometimes they are too subjective in the situation to be helpful and often we do not want to burden them. It is in such situations that the expertise of a professional can help to find a way through. At times like these speaking to someone who is objective often helps us to see a bigger picture and also clarify whether our understanding of the situation is clear. Counselling provides a 'neutral' ground for us to air our problems in a safe environment where we will not be judged.

Counselling comes in different forms. Online counselling is a method of counselling which allows one to be anonymous even to the extent of giving a false name if identity needs to be protected. This applies to telephone counselling where the counsellor may be talking to someone at the other end of the country and if the individual does not wish to reveal his identity he is not required to give his name. For others, talking therapies is not the answer but they may wish to communicate by the written word. This is where email counselling comes into its own, providing a service for such people. Both of these methods also provide counselling for people who are in remote areas where face-to-face counselling is unavailable. This may be particularly helpful for missionaries. Face-to-face counselling is a means whereby people who want to interact with the counsellor are able to do so.

The trained, professional Christian counsellor follows a code of ethics which means that the client's story is received in a very safe environment so that there is no risk to the client. The British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) only accredits counsellors who have completed years of training. The Association of Christian Counsellors follows a similar code of ethics.

There is no need to carry a problem alone. There is no problem too big or too small that cannot be helped by a trained counsellor.

Maureen Poland has been a trained counsellor since 1995 and currently runs Alpha Christian Counselling. She has been in private practice since 2004 and was previously employed at her local hospital. She has also been a Pastor's wife for 30 years.