Family forms the most important part of an individual’s life. Any kind of tension in the family ties leads to depression and sorrow. Due to constantly increasing workloads and pressures to prove oneself, individuals hardly get time to spend with their family members. This leads to gap in communication and eventual fights. This is where the counseling service in Alberta can help solve various emotional conflicts within the family.
Out of the several issues, marriage is the most prominent, which requires delicate and skillful handling. The essentials of a good and sound marriage are love, communication, faith, trust, and commitment towards each other. The problems faced by the couples are better resolved when they are within the context of the couples’ relationship. A couple which is undergoing emotional turmoil seeks advice and help of professionals to smooth things between them. This kind of advice is called counseling.
When couples apply for counseling sessions, the counselor first tries to locate the problem. The counselors then try to mediate between the husband and the wife to bring out their opinions and points of difference. The counseling sessions provide the couples with the apt platform to talk about their views openly. This in turn facilitates them in understanding what the other was thinking and feeling all this while. The communication gap that was present at the starting of the counseling lessens with each successive session.
Marriage And Family Counseling in Alberta
I discovered psychology when I was a university freshman, many years ago. I loved everything about that first course, even the multiple choice tests and especially the section about counseling. Religion was not mentioned in the course, except in a negative way, but in my mind, I could see glimpses of how this newly-discovered field of study could have an impact on the church. I was surprised to discover that my old Sunday School teacher was not enamored with psychology like I was, but my interest grew as I took more courses and eventually decided to study further in graduate school.
In those days nobody talked about the integration of psychology and theology. Christian counseling was not a term that I heard often. My efforts to link my faith with my emerging career were guided by writers in the field of pastoral psychology. Most of these were more liberal theologically than I was but they wrote about ways in which psychological insights could help church-based counselors understand and better deal with issues like depression, interpersonal conflict, panic, and grief. The anti-psychology polemicists had not begun their angry campaigns against Christians in this field so I entered my profession never doubting that Christian counseling, guided by the Holy Spirit and informed by the Holy Scriptures, could be a powerful Christ-honoring tool for helping us do good to all people, especially to fellow believers (Gal. 6:10).
Over the years I have never wavered in my belief that Christian counseling has a lot to contribute to the church. I believe even more that the church makes a crucial contribution to the power and impact of Christian counseling.
*The Church Needs Christian Counselors*
Many Christian leaders still wonder why the church needs counselors. Is not good preaching and discipleship enough? Is not Christ sufficient to meet all human needs? Could not the efforts of dedicated church elders and other leaders eliminate the need for counselors? Do not the Scriptures tell us that believers have everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness? (2 Peter 1:3) Why would the church need counselors like us? We must begin our answer by looking to God's Word. Jesus was a teacher and a preacher, but he also was an effective counselor. He talked one-on-one to the woman at the well. He counseled Martha about her busy lifestyle, and talked tenderly to a woman caught in adultery. Late one night he helped Nicodemus with his spiritual struggles. Often Jesus talked with people privately, shared their hurts, gave encouragement, and guided as they coped with their problems. Sometimes he helped people find forgiveness. He asked questions, listened carefully, and often told stories that left people free to draw their own conclusions. When two of his followers were grappling with their grief and confusion on the road to Damascus, he spent time with them, listened to them, and showed them what Scripture said about their uncertainties.
In the early church and throughout the New Testament we see personal helping modeled and encouraged. Paul, for example, gave sensitive guidance and mentoring to Timothy. Barnabas was a consistent encourager. The epistles overflow with principles for living, guidelines for solving problems, and instructions for individuals with tension in their lives. More than 50 times we read one another passages. Bear one anothers burdens, we are told, encourage one another, care for one another, be kind to one another, serve one another. Of course these words are not directed to a special group known as counselors. These instructions are for all Christians, but they are teachings that encourage the type of help, support, and care giving that counselors have the calling, time, and special training to provide. There are those who say that counseling does not help. Sometimes it does not. But many people can tell encouraging stories about ways in which they have been changed by counselors who are trained to understand problems, teach communication skills, help people get along, and show how to deal with inner conflicts and pain left over from the past.
The best trained counselors recognize the influence of biology and appreciate the role that body chemicals play, sometimes creating havoc in Christian homes and individual lives. We need to remind church leaders that literally thousands of scientific research studies have examined the work of counselors and demonstrated their effectiveness. It is true, of course, that God does not need counselors for the advancement of his kingdom. Neither does he need teachers, physicians, preachers or anybody else.
In his sovereign wisdom, However, he uses mortals like us to accomplish his purposes. He could give us instant knowledge of all truth and could bestow wisdom like he gave Solomon; but he has chosen instead to work most often through godly teachers. He could heal all our diseases in an instant and sometimes he does, but for reasons that we do not fully comprehend, he brings most physical healing through the skillful hands of scientifically trained doctors and nurses. He could evangelize the world with the blink of an eye, but instead he has given this responsibility to evangelists, pastors, and faithful followers of Christ charged with the duty to go forth and make disciples. Instantaneously, God could wipe away all depression, anxiety, inner turmoil and interpersonal conflicts, but often he works through compassionate human beings with the gifts of encouragement, discernment, and counseling.
How then, do these counselors strengthen the church? First, counselors free pastors and other church leaders for the overall work of the ministry. Most pastors would agree: the demands of ministry gulp up large quantities of time and leave few hours for the concentrated care giving that counseling often demands. But no one person is called or equipped to do everything not even the pastor. Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12 teach that members of the body have different spiritual gifts and responsibilities. Counselors use their gifts to help people, honor Christ, and strengthen Christians in their churches. Counselors also help pastors, missionaries, and other church leaders deal with difficulties in their own lives. Recently I attended a large conference on church leadership led by two prominent evangelical pastors. During their messages, both mentioned how Christian counselors had helped in times of special difficulty and rejuvenated their ministries as a result. One described how a counselor had helped when the demands of ministry almost destroyed his marriage. The other talked about the time he hit bottom, burned out emotionally, physically and spiritually.
With the support of his church board he took time off, got help from a Christian therapist, and learned to pace himself for the effective ministry that he has today. Where do church leaders go when they need help? What if a pastor or missionary is struggling with a failing marriage, uncontrolled kids, hostile criticism, deep feelings of failure, insecurity, bitterness, or lust? Sometimes the best counselor is the person who can be objective, available, and trained to deal with the unique problems that may be draining energy, vitality, and effectiveness from Gods chosen servants. Christian counselors also can (and should) give support and encouragement to their spiritual leaders. This is one of the things we can do best, but I wonder how many of us take the time to come alongside our pastors or other Christian leaders to give a little inspiration and encouragement. Even when they are not having problems in their own lives or with counselees, church leaders need to know that people like us care enough to say with our words and our presence, Well done...I am standing with you. Christian Counselors have their own unique healing ministries that can strengthen the Body of Christ. Counselors have Counselors use their gifts to help people, honor Christ, and strengthen Christians in their churches.
As part of their in-depth training, counselors learn special helping skills. They have knowledge about the nature of common emotional problems like depression or anxiety, familiarity with the impact of biology on behavior, and expertise in handling faltering marriages or dealing with interpersonal conflict. Some suggest that counselors take a paraclete role, being used by the Holy Spirit to come alongside struggling people to bring special comfort, guidance, encouragement, and sometimes confrontation.
*Christian Counselors Need the Church*
One of the greatest weaknesses in the development of professional Christian counseling has been our movement away from the church. This has happened for at least three reasons. First, attitudes in some churches have driven counselors away. When church leaders condemn professional counselors and urge church members to avoid counseling, is it any wonder that some have set up their practices away from the church? Second, the mental health professions have encouraged independence. These attitudes are now changing, but for many years secular organizations and professionals have tended to distrust religion, proclaim the Importance of professional objectivity, and warned against dual relationships such as those that might occur in church settings. Influenced by managed care companies, state licensing agencies, ethical guidelines and the desire to be as professional as possible, many Christian counselors have concluded that their practices should be completely separate from the church just as medical or legal practices are independent.
Third, sometimes the movement away from the church has come because of the attitudes of counselors themselves. Some of us have kept our counseling and our Christianity compartmentalized because we do not know how to bring the two together, do not want to bring them together, fear being accused of proselytizing, or do not want our beliefs to impact our therapy adversely. But Christian counselors ignore the church at their own peril. We are members of the body of Christ. Christian counselors need the church for encouragement, support, teaching, and worship. We cannot forsake meeting together with other believers (Heb. 10:25). For many years I attended church routinely but only within the past few years have I begun to fully appreciate the role that corporate worship plays in my life. I need it. When I am traveling and miss worship with other believers, I sense a vacuum in my life even if my personal devotional life is intact. Every Christian needs the church body even when our churches are not very worshipful. We need this more because of our kind of ministry. We are in the business of seeking to undo what the devil does best. Our work is a form of spiritual warfare. He is the father of lies; we seek to help people face the truth.
He divides people; we bring them together. He convinces them that life without God is best; we teach that life without God is futile and ultimately empty. He seeks to discourage us, distract us, sidetrack us, and prevent our effectiveness as counselors; we work with the knowledge that while the evil one is powerful in his activities, the one who is in us is greater than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4). We are helpless to do this kind of ministry in our own strength. We need the body of believers to hold us up in prayer and support. If there are none in your church who do this, you are lacking a key ingredient for your Christian counseling effectiveness. In addition, Christian counselors need the church for accountability. We live in a culture where independence and individual achievement are lauded, even in many churches. We acclaim super-star pastors and applaud our heroes in sports, music, and even the Christian counseling profession. I have seen it up close in the Christian publishing industry. Publishers, readers, and talk show hosts tell writers how wonderful they are and in time these authors begin to believe their own press reports. Accountability goes out the door along with humility. Whether or not we are successful or famous, each of us needs Christian brothers and sisters to stand alongside us, challenge us, and keep us accountable for the ways in which we live our lives, care for our marriage, pare not our kids, spend our money, deal with our own sexuality, and relate to our
Christian counselors also need the church for the support and spiritual encouragement of our clients. I know a counselor who makes three requirements for all of his counselees. They need to see him for their weekly counseling sessions, be involved in some kind of small group, and attend at least one worship service a week. My friend believes that his counseling is more effective and long lasting when his clients are anchored in a local church. For some counselors this may not be feasible, but the churches impact for good in the lives of clients cannot be overemphasized. Here is therapist directory for your help.
*Winds of Change*
Our profession has come a long way since I took the freshman psychology course that eventually got me into Christian counseling. We still have a long way to go but the winds of change are blowing. Christians are recognizing that Christian counselors do serve a purpose especially when problems arise that common sense care giving does not seem to help. Counselors, in turn, are realizing that we need the church, desperately. Churches and counselors are in partnership like never before. This is the way it should be. I suspect this is Gods way.
Seek Marriage Family Counseling Before You Decide on a Divorce
The strongest contributor to individual character development is the family unit. You may have spent years trying to change, eliminate, or copy the influence of certain members of your family unit-consciously or unconsciously.
Consequently, if anger is part of your familys culture, you have probably noticed that it tends to spread itself to future generations. The wider it has spread, the more difficult it is to contain.
Take a look at the way members of your family relate with one another. Is there a hurtful and biting anger present? Remember, our earliest experiences communicating, problem-solving and relating to others occurs within our nuclear family. Unfortunately, patterns of anger in these relationships are then recreated in later relationships and subsequent family systems.
Fortunately, counseling and an expert treatment plan can eliminate the damage of having lived in an angry or abusive family unit.
How Dysfunctional Anger Destroys Relationships
Anger is a very common destroyer of relationships. Couples, however, often underestimate or minimize its impact by sometimes reporting that it is this anger that makes the relationship feel alive. A very dangerous notion.
How does irrational anger start? It grows in relationships which are insecure and where open communication is absent. The emotion of love then becomes buried beneath years and years of hostility and resentment. In these relationships, helplessness often exists in the present and anxiety and fear overwhelm thoughts about the future.
The news is not all bad, however. The good news is that if you are motivated to take part in marital or family therapy you can be rewarded with new optimism and hope.
The following are tips on how to limit destructive anger in your relationships:
1. When you feel angry, mentally evaluate your feelings. Ask yourself if you are over-reacting or jumping to conclusions.
2. Particularly, if you have nothing to lose, start by giving others the benefit of the doubt. Ask yourself if you have taken something too personally or over-reacted.
3. Move to higher ground; get a broader perspective. When you feel resentment building, talk your feelings over with a loved one and get additional feedback.
4. If certain relationships are repeatedly fraught with anger, assess whether or not you should stay in them.
5. If your anger feels out of control and/or mysterious and particularly, if the relationship is important, consider family or relationship counseling.
How Do I Know If a Family Member Has an Anger Problem?
Most of the time angry individuals are aware that they have problems controlling anger. Unfortunately, many of them come to accept that their anger is unchangeable, a fixed aspect of their personality and feel hopeless to to do anything about it. If you wonder whether you or a loved one may have an anger problem, look for several of the following symptoms:
1. Becoming inappropriately angry in response to mild frustration or irritation.
2. Experiencing painful feelings of guilt or regret over something that you have said or done in a fit of anger.
3. The existence of repeated interpersonal conflicts that result from angry outbursts (legal problems, arguments, damage to property, school or work suspensions, etc.)
4. Family and/or friends approaching or appealing to you to control your anger.
5. Having chronic physical symptoms which are generated or exacerbated by too much anger, such as high blood pressure, gastrointestinal difficulties etc.
Where do I Seek Help for an Anger Problem?
Mental health professionals are very responsive to those who seek treatment for anger dysfunction. Referrals to treatment professionals and services are available through The American Psychological Association, The American Counseling Association and The National Association of Social Workers.
You may feel shame or guilt about your anger issues and these problems can actually change the lives of you and your loved ones, for the worst. Therefore, it is critical to consult with a counseling or mental health professional who has many years of experience in anger management training.
What Kind of Treatments are Available for My Anger Disorder?
The most common approaches to anger management problems include the use of individual and family therapies. These therapies help one to become aware of specific triggers and thinking processes which lead to chronic anger and demonstrate how to think productively, rather than irrationally.
Individual therapy explores the root of angry feelings and behavior in a counseling format that includes only one client. This counseling approach helps the individual to focus on the most important emotions causing his or her excessive anger.
Family therapy is a powerful and comprehensive way of repairing the damage caused by longer-term expressions of hurtful anger. Chronic anger commonly alienates family members from each other, resulting in strained communication. It can also cause members to be overly involved with one another in a very dysfunctional way.
Family therapy considers each members role in the dysfunction rather than just pinpointing one person.
How Marriage and Family Therapy Help
Marriage and family therapists, psychologists and mental health counselors are trained in how to identify anger patterns that pass from generation to generation. Identifying these patterns through counseling helps each client to explore his or her perceptions, prejudices and misunderstandings about the appropriateness of certain types of anger.
For example, when parents reflect on how emotions were expressed in their nuclear families, subsequent family members begin to understand the family's inherited concepts about anger and how to correct them.
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