Of course to counsel means to give informed advice to someone. The base word Consult in Latin means to deliberate or consider. Jeroboam, son of Solomon consulted (sought counsel) from the wise men that ruled in the days of his father as well as the young men of his age (1 Kings 12:6, 8-9). He simply went to deliberate with them in order to find an appropriate response to the request the people had made. When God says, “come let us reason together…” (Isaiah 1:18 – 19), He is only calling us to His counselling table. In counselling, issues are deliberated over and consequences, considered. It is an interactive intervention involving the counselor and the client. Similarly, this same base word, ‘Consult’ connotes,
- To talk things over in order to plan or decide,
- To seek an opinion from,
- To ask advice of,
- To refer to or turn to, especially for information,
- To keep in mind while acting or deciding to show regard for.
In the light of the above, counselling could be seen as a safe haven for the traumatized, troubled and for those entering into major decisions for their lives. Or how could you be considering a change from one occupation to another, a choice of career, establishing industry, entering into a sacred and lifetime relationship like marriage, family planning, or being caught in the web like rape / sexual harassment, threatened marriage/divorce/separation, very serious relational problems with someone, loneliness, loss of a loved one, retrenchment, even retirement, etcetera, without consulting your counsellor? It is in counselling that you learn the tenacity of the entrepreneur, the frugality of the industrialist and the comfort of the Holy Spirit. Hence, Baron and Kantowtz in their book; “Psychology – Understanding Behaviour”, state very clearly that “counseling or counselors specialize in helping individuals who are experiencing many types of personal difficulties – but show no signs of mental disorders – to resolve their problems” A mental case requires complete deliverance ministration or Psychiatric attention before proper counselling therapy. In all, Christian counsellors use different intervention models but, based on the Bible and their training and expertise to bring mental and spiritual wholeness to their clients.
TYPES OF COUNSELLING
The above scenario implies that different areas of life will require different types of counselling / counsellors. For instance, there is,
- Counselling for the youths and Teens,
- Counselling for children or child counselling,
- Educational and career counselling,
- Marriage counselling for the married and for the singles,
- Family counselling (family planning, pregnancy – pre/post-natal, child-care, conflict resolution), etc.,
- Health/Nutrition counselling,
- Financial management / Retirement counselling,
- Stress/Anxiety/Depression management counselling,
- Addiction counselling,
- Trauma counselling (rape, robbery attacks, retrenchment, jail term, loss of a loved one), etcetera.
Our society is in dire need of trained Christian counsellors to Mann the positions created by the above challenges of our time. It is not news that holistic counselling has not been given prominence in many churches and by our governments. This is why over 50% of our children graduate from universities before having a fair understanding of the career path to follow. This is an aberration needing urgent all-round attention. Again, most pulpit preachings are counselling information but not all preachers know the ethics of counselling and how to manage clients’ personal information. This is also an aberration needing serious training intervention. Indeed, we need trained and practicing Christian counsellors in every field.
WHO NEEDS COUNSELLING, IS IT IMPORTANT?
Information from the above tells us that EVERYONE needs counselling and it is very important. In Proverbs 19:20 the Bible commands that you “Listen to counsel and receive instruction that you may be wise in your later days.” If counselling were not important, God would have made it optional. Safety and success is made possible through wise counsel. In Proverbs 24:6, the Bible says “For by wise counsel you will wage your own war, And in a multitude of counselors there is safety”. See also, Proverbs 11:14, & 20:18. In fact, Proverbs 15:22 maintains that our success or otherwise may actually be the function of the wise or foolish counsel we received and applied. So, how informed are you in that which you are doing or want to do? Many are sick in hospitals or languishing in jail for lack of proper counselling. To effectively administer holistic counselling (that affects body, soul and spirit) in a local church, highly qualified professionals from different professions – Medical, Legal, Educational, Financial (who can be retrained as Christian counsellors) etc., would be needed. ARE YOU ONE OF THEM and CAN YOU MAKE YOURSELF AVAILBLAE?
WHY MANY SHY AWAY FROM COUNSELING
- Misconceptions: (A) It is not needful. (B) I can handle it myself in my own way. Can you?
- Cover up. Why should anyone know I am going through this or want to do this?
Listen, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes but he who heeds counsel is wise” Proverbs 12:15.
- Pride. Some shy away from counselling because of their belief that such exercise will demean their social standing. Like Naaman, some even engage in unwholesome comparisons when underlying problems, like cancer is eating them up. Such are happier with crisis management especially when the problems become public knowledge. Much of what we call counselling today is crisis management. Again, the Bible says, “By pride comes nothing but strife. But with the well advised is wisdom. Proverbs, 13:10. This is counselling. A true counsellor will go to great lengths to help a client and to bring stability.
- Ignorance. Church members and the public outside are largely UNAWARE about counselling. If clear information is lacking regarding this provision of God, response from the people will also be lacking. Similarly, if counselling needs far outweigh the number of trained counselling ministers, professional counsellors and their efforts will also look insignificant comparatively. God needs a multitude of counsellors and their role in keeping the church / society healthy must of necessity, be constantly presented to the people.
- Fear of disclosure. The fear of disclosure has robbed many, the benefits of counselling. It is criminal to disclose confidential information. Malachi 5b says “guard the door of your mouth from she that lies on your bosom”. It is against the ethics of counselling to use a counsellee’s personal counselling information as prayer point with another person without due permission. If you must pray an agreement prayer, pray with the counselee/client himself. Similarly, such information must never ever be used as a pulpit message or preaching example without the express permission of the counsellee. One of the ethics of counselling is to keep every piece of information confidential. Any so-called counsellor who cannot abide by these rules shouldquit.
WHO SHOULD I GO TO FOR COUNSELLING?
1 Those who have covenanted themselves to God to stand in the office of counselling.
2 Those who have applied themselves to rigorous training in their specific areas and maintained the ethics of the ministry or profession.
3 Those who practice it and have proven results in the areas of concern.
4 Those who by experience and by close walk with God have developed the ability to access divine truths and know how to use the same to solve human problems.
5 Those who possess the qualities of faithfulness, compassion, versatility, self control, humility, training, approachability and have positive influence, good people-management skills, sound knowledge of God’s word and current with daily/ current affairs etcetera. This is the Christian counsellor we need today. He must be at the cutting edge of both instruction and technology. Do you possess these requisite skills? This is the time to use them, this is the time to go public with those skills; This is the time to join the ACCNIG. The world is waiting for you.
WHAT IS THE AIM OF COUNSELLING?
- To positively impact the kingdom of God and the society at large by assisting to place square pegs in square holes.
- It enables and enhances successful and victorious living.
- Helps to correct relational incompetence.
- That there might be changed lifestyle and proper reintegration into the society. “Blessed be the God …who comforts us in all our tribulation that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God”. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4. Join us today to do the work of Christian counselling in Nigeria.
Rev. Dr. Ronald O. king
President: Association of Christian Counsellors of Nigeria (www.accnig.org)