To Counsel or Not To Counsel

I’ve been thinking a lot about counseling.  And by thinking, I mean imagining myself sitting in a brown leather chair opposite a person who vulnerably empties themselves of their worries and cares.  I listen, and at the end I grasp for some piece of wisdom to throw in their direction and hope that it sticks.  So I’ve done that.  Imagining.  I’ve also done some google searches, clicking on rabbit trails, but only going a hop or two down them…not far enough to lose my original search page.  And then I’ve talked to several people here who’ve entered the counseling sphere in some significant way.

-side note.  As I’m writing this, a spider’s making his way across the floor in my direction.  So pardon me if I seem distracted….ooh, he’s fast.-

These are all good steps, necessary ones, in testing out this possible career path.  I’ve happ’d upon the idea of getting my masters in counseling in a circuitous way.  But to sum up, I love people and their stories.  And I want to help them as they live out their stories.  Often I feel I don’t have the necessary tools to help, but I do believe I have the heart.  I yearn for one-on-one settings…I prefer them over large gatherings.  Back in college, among the normal activities harassing the pages of my personal planner such as “theater meeting, study group, go grocery shopping, chapel, and classes” were “hangout with [insert your name here]”.  Coffee dates, lunch dates, walk dates, you name it.  It was an essential then, and I still love it now.  I long for it and look for it.  I want to love people through my listening and my words.

I finished reading Inside Out by Dr. Larry Crabb a couple days ago.  It’s repetitious, yet eye-opening.  He calls us out as a culture that is paralyzed by pain.  Our attempts to minimize pain are futile though.  We’ll never experience a complete quenching of our “thirst” this side of heaven.  So why avoid it?  He believes that once we accept the disappointment, we can take the necessary steps to draw nearer to God:

“Repentance leads us into an experience of our disappointment and aloneness that crushes us with a pain that cannot be relieved.  But when we trust God in our helplessness enough to move toward other people simply because that is God’s will for us, then the reality of His compassion slowly begins to enter our soul.  As we walk a path that seems to lead toward death, a sense of life quietly grows within us” (199).

Several of you are counselors/pursuing degrees in the subject.  I would love to hear your thoughts in response to these questions that are bobbling round at the moment:

  • What are the positives/negatives of a counseling program at a seminary?
  • What are the positive/negatives of a counseling program at a secular institution?
  • Would being a “Christian” counselor be more limiting?  More freeing?
  • Which type of counseling to pursue?  Guidance counseling versus family/marriage counseling versus social work?

Only three more weeks of L’Abri.  Of this “Shelter.”  It’s my hope that I’ll be reading as many books and asking as many questions back home as I do here.  Remind me, okay?  Thanks friends.

Some recent pics:

Gio came to visit for a few days!

An informal lunch at Bellevue.  Heya Will!

Yummy pasta dish.

Relaxing before the meal.

A Wheaton/Regent couple came to visit and hold lectures for a week.  Little Rowan just loved the camera.

Aw, Rowan.

Snowy Huemoz.

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4 thoughts on “To Counsel or Not To Counsel

  1. Oh Lisbeth, I am so happy to hear ur pondering getting a degree in counseling! Not only because that’s my career of choice, but because I know u would be an amazing counselor! I will answer ur inquiries a little later:)

  2. Dearest Lisbeth,
    Snow! It must be cold, but so beautiful to see! I am sure you are soaking it all in now with your departure drawing near.

    What are the positives/negatives of a counseling program at a seminary?—not sure because I didn’t experience this..it would be good to look into though. You would want to make sure you can get the needed degree, hours, and such for your license.

    I am excited for you and your new ponderings of counseling. I have many thoughts and views toward this topic. One thing to keep in mind is that our views often change as we grow and mature–as you well know of course..

    What are the positive/negatives of a counseling program at a secular institution?
    I enjoyed getting my psych undergrad at a christian college and seeing the Christian perspective of counseling-which I think is very important. Now that I am in a secular school for school counseling it is a bit different however I really appreciate seeing this side of it. I know my personal beliefs and can make “notes to self” on how I would do things differently as a christian (if I counsel in a christian setting of course). I am being prepared for public school counseling even though my passion is to be in a christian school setting–I am open to working in public school it would be very different though. For obvious reasons. I look forward to possibilities
    But going back to the original question–the positives are that you get a great education and you see how unbelievers learn and view things–you will learn things from an evolutionary perspective which can be educational even if you do not believe that…You also are in the classroom talking about abortion and same sex marriage..soooo…yea. If you are in a christian school you learn how to counsel with a christian perspective–either way you know your core beliefs so schooling is truly up to you and God and he’ll show you which school is best and which degree will most benefit you.

    Which type of counseling to pursue? Guidance counseling versus family/marriage counseling versus social work?
    School counseling is very different from licensed counseling. Counseling in general will take a lot out of you. I am most interested in school counseling because I love school and loved my teachers and influencers throughout my education, and I want to be that for students in this coming generation. I enjoy the school atmosphere and education. I want to help students succeed in school, graduate, and have a successful future. I also have a desire to pursue a degree later on in marriage and family counseling. I feel it is best to wait for that until after I have been married a few years. =) I love talking about relationships though and have a passion in this area.

    Licensed counseling is a wonderful field. There are many avenues to take..my experience as an assistant in an office was seeing how tired counselors get because people that come for counseling don’t always want to be counseled. Those are the very difficult clients. Then there are clients that want help, want to learn, and those are the cases that are amazing. Counseling is not always giving someone wise counsel either. In secular schools they usually teach for you to withstand giving advice and help the person come up with what they think they should do. Which Christian counselors should also do, but then we share the “why” and the truth and we bring in Jesus and then it all really makes sense.

    Would being a “Christian” counselor be more limiting? More freeing?
    If you are considering licensed counseling I believe christian counseling is more freeing because you don’t have to feel like something is missing or that you are leaving out the key ingredient.

    Social work is a whole ‘nother genre–It can be very interesting. It’s also a great field. I have a wonderful example of an excellent social worker..I would assume there is less one-one-one though. I may be wrong on that assumption however because I do not have experience I just have book knowledge…many low income families, lots of children, babies, drugs, broken homes–just some of the things they deal with..

    I would love to have a full conversation with you..these are just the few first thoughts that came to mind.

    One practical thing to also think about this profession is the hours. Usually licensed counselors work in the evenings because most people have off in the evenings..however you can usually make your own hours and it just depends where you work and who your work for. They still counsel in the mornings and in the afternoon of course..some may not choose to work evenings, but most clients prefer evening times.

    Also like I said. It can be draining. Counselors aren’t dealing with easy people. Depression, affairs, disorders..it takes a lot out of anyone. I am not saying any of this to sound pessimistic or negative in any way. I am just pointing out the things that are reality. I think you are such a strong person and would be an incredible counselor or school counselor. You just need to think about the type of people, the age range, and the setting you want to be in while counseling. Social workers don’t counsel–that’s not their job–but they help A LOT! All of these positions are meant for helping people..I encourage you to think about how and where and to what extent you want to help others.

    I love you!!

    Rachel

  3. Dearest Lisbeth, This is great you are asking these questions. We will talk more when you get home, but as I mentioned earlier, look into the difference between counseling and therapy….maybe even meeting with a career coach to explore further your gifts, interests, passions…sometimes they know of career possibilities that you never considered.

    And of course there is always nursing!! You can become a Psychiatric Nurse Practioner or Clinical Nurse Specialist and do individual, group, or family therapy, as well as prescribe medications. But that would take another 3-4 years at least because you would need to be in an accelerated BSN program and then get your Master’s.
    The Lord will guide you step by step!!
    Love you SO much,
    Marms

  4. Thank you my friends for your wise counsel. I SO appreciate the feedback and hope that this is only the beginning of a long dialogue about it. Rach, there are some really good points you made…looking forward to our next skype convo to get more in depth about it. Love you all!!

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