Thursday, September 8, 2011

Helping Other People

People Helping Skills

Written by Dr. Bill Bagents

Christian counseling is too important to be left to professionals. More people talk to family, friends, and brethren than will ever visit a professional counselor. That’s a good thing. Example of professional counselor and client with: my husband is mean, hateful, neglectful, and unappreciative. I’m thinking about leaving him.

  • Ann Landers, cost/benefit: “Are you better off with him or without him?”
  • Strong feminist: “Marriage is an evil institution invented by males in an attempt to subjugate females.”
  • Nutty: “What you need to do is to have a blazing hot affair and make him jealous.”
  • Nutty religious: “The devil is in your husband. Bring him for an exorcism.”
  • In any helping relationship, the personality, values, attitudes, and beliefs of the helper are vitally important. Galatians 5:22-26. Galatians 6:1-10. Proverbs 3:5-8.

Christian counseling is not getting degrees, learning theories, mastering techniques.

Christian counseling is rather:

  • John 13:34-35, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this will …”
  • Matthew 22:34ff, One of the Pharisees who was a lawyer, posed a question to Jesus, “Teacher, which is the great commandment of the law?” V. 39, the Second = Leviticus 19:18.
  • Matthew 7:12, “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”
  • Galatians 6:10, “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.” See example in Galatians 6:1ff.
  • Philippians 2:3-4, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:14, “Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all.”

In any helping relationship, the personality, values, attitudes, beliefs, and MOTIVES of the helper are vitally important. It is also true that…

The helpee’s attitudes, motivation, and desire for help are vitally important.

The helping relationship between helper and helpee is vitally important. Trust. Relational. In counseling, we don’t fix people. We neither know enough nor have the power. We try to help people learn to help themselves. We care, listen, teach, encourage, challenge, and confront in an effort to help people move closer to God.

Helping must include attention to the helpee’s emotions, thoughts, and behavior – all three. There are many counseling theories/approaches which give attention to only one of these aspects.

Helping involves a variety of skills. Among these are:

  1. Listening. Jeffrey Kottler has written, “Listening is the most crucial helping skill.” There are three types of listening:
    1. Passive: formulating your response while the speaker is talking.
    2. Active: mirroring what the speaker says
    3. Attentive: validating the speaker’s feelings, entering the speaker’s world.
  2. Encouraging. Encouraging honesty, openness, exploration, taking responsibility, and/or proper action.
  3. Supporting. Particularly creating a supportive interpersonal environment.
  4. Confronting. In the best case, we help the helpee confront his own bad thinking, inappropriate and/or disproportionate emotions, and/or destructive behavior.
  5. Teaching. Through the counseling process, the helpee learns how to act, feel, and/or think differently.

The ultimate goal of Christian helping is to help others draw nearer to God. Ed Welch states it, “The biblical counselor’s purpose is to help persons discern if their lives fit with biblical patterns.” See Proverbs 3:5-8.

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