by Nehlsie de Bruto
In this discussion we examine three aspects:
• The individual who comes for counseling (the counselee)
• the counsellor, and
• the method or tool of counseling.
1. COUNSELEE AND THE PROBLEM
Any problem that someone comes to a counselor with is really just the symptom. If we the really want to help person, we need to get to the root of the problem.
What is this root? The root lies in our origin in Adam. We, Adam’s offspring, took control. Frank Sinatra’s, “I did it my way,” sums it up well. From childhood we learn to take control and to enforce our will by having floor tantrums and screaming. Do you know of any baby who had to be taught to scream with a red little face when things don’t go his/her way? As adults we use the same method, only more civilized – or maybe not so civilized. We remain in control because our Adam- sin has become habitual behavior. We declare: “I am god; I will not give up my right to myself. I have to take control.”
So someone who, for example, has a problem like obsessive compulsive behavioral disorder has taken control in his/her own way. I know it’s very simplistic, but we are now looking fundamentally about controlling behavior. There are cases where real physiological imbalances do occur. The question is: Could these behavior patterns (wanting to be in control) not lead to the ultimate physiological disorder?
In Handbook to Happiness, Dr. Charles Solomon, the founder of Grace Fellowship International (GFI), testifies that he had severe depression until his thirties and was on medication. He was later totally redeemed and healed through finding his true identity in Christ. More on this later.
Causes, reactions and effects
Therefore, if we want to help a counselee, the counselor must guide the individual to discover how this pattern of behavior took root and how it was strengthened along the way. Finally, the counselee must discover that Christ took the causes, reactions and effects all to the cross. Then follows discipleship.
2. THE INDIVIDUAL WHO DOES THE COUNSELING
We talk about Christian counseling and Christian counselors. What do we mean by that? For example, I can go to a Christian mechanic. Do I have any guarantee that he will be able to repair my car simply because he is a Christian? No. He must know what he is doing to provide a thorough service. So if we talk about a Christian counselor he must be an expert in his subject. In this case, certainly someone who himself came to the cross of Christ. Someone who himself also discovered that he liked to be in control. Someone who has discovered the solution is total surrender to Christ. Someone who trusts in the indwelling Counselor, the Holy Spirit, for guidance so that the seeking person can be helped.
3. THE METHOD OR TOOL OF COUNSELING
There are many Christian methods and courses to help with counseling. Unfortunately, many of the methods are embedded in psychology. Is psychology the “great danger”? No, we just have to assign the right place to psychology and know what the basis of psychology is.
What is psychology?
In the first place, psychology is exactly what it says, knowledge of the soul — nothing more and nothing less. Every counselor should know that the three cornerstones of psychology are humanism, evolution, and statistics. Humanism in particular is central to psychology and therefore the human being will be central. It is useful to use psychology to understand human behavior and thinking. However, it does not help to baptize psychology in passages of Scripture and then call it Christian psychology. Christ and the cross must be central.
What is the purpose of counseling?
Is the purpose of counseling just to make the person feel better, function better and possibly strengthen the flesh? No. The goal of Christ-centered counseling should be to guide the counselee to recognize and acknowledge self-centered behavior and thinking, take it to the cross (Rom 6:11), and then live a life directed by the Holy Spirit. It is a victorious life in Christ, a life where the self is denied every day (Matt 16:24-26) and this requires discipleship. Dr. Solomon, after a long struggle against depression, discovered that those things in his childhood that gave rise to the depression were also nailed to the cross. He discovered that his methods of dealing with it were hopelessly ineffective and that they too were nailed to the cross. Triumphantly, he discovered: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal 2:20).
This is the goal for every counseling situation.
CORNELIA DE BRUTO (Nehlsie) has an MA in psychology and was a psychology lecturer at a South African University. She has been involved in training of counselors in Christ-centered counseling. for the past 30 years as co-founder of Curare Institute for Christ-centered Counselling. Curare is affiliated with Grace Fellowship International