A practical example of Christian
A practical example of Christian counseling can explain its principles fully.
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There are many approaches to counseling, the main of which are psychology-based, Bible only, and open-minded approaches. However, in the case which is being analyzed, the integration of all the systems is inevitable, as far as each of them is somewhat limited when taken separately. Thus, an MFT consulting Sally aims to balance these methods to help the patient in all the spheres of her life to establish harmony in one’s emotional and religious world.
The case of a young girl Sally, should be analyzed in detail from different points of view. Her problems concern other spheres of her life; therefore, her counselor should consider various aspects.
The first problem is relatively easy to solve. It is the patient’s emotional instability. There can be few factors defined which probably influence Sally’s emotional state:
- pressure from relatives. The lack of support in the family leads to the feeling of insecurity. Thus, the MTF should focus on the sources of emotional support of the girl to feel more comfortable.
- young age. Sally, who is only 22, has not much life experience. She is afraid to make any decisions, as she thinks that all of them can turn out to be wrong. A counselor’s task is to explain to the girl that every decision has a positive side and that people often face difficult choices.
- pregnancy. Sally has not formed her attitude towards this phenomenon; therefore, the MTF should help her understand what bearing and child means for her.
Thus, by taking a single problem, which is Sally’s emotional instability, and dividing it into smaller ones, the counselor can help the patient and renew her emotional health.
The other problem is psychological. Generally, there are three stages of the healing process. Firstly, the patient should trace back the point when the problems started. The counselor should show her that the first sexual relationships were her attempts to be self-sufficient and that it was the beginning of her separation from Church and family. This could help her to understand the reasons for the psychological pressure she feels. Secondly, the clinician should turn the girl’s attention to the outcomes of her actions, which are emotional breakdown, insecurity, and unhappiness. Finally, an MFT should show the patient another possible way of living, which is accessible and much more positive. That is, living in a community and relying on God. This has to be done to completely separate the future from the past and present and define the objectives and perspectives.
Another problem, which is the most serious and needs careful analysis, is religion. Clinical ethics has to be combined with the principles of Christianity to be able to understand the patients deeply. The patient says that she is eager to change her life to serve God. She is attending an evangelical church and is a professed Christian. However, her way of life does not correspond to her belief principles; moreover, the problems she has at the moment contradict the Christian morality. Therefore, the counselor should discuss Sally’s current situation, define the points that should be corrected, and support these ideas with feedback from the Bible. It is essential to be careful in order not to make a person feel depressed because of a feeling of guilt. The MFT should concentrate on the possible changes for the better that faith can bring.
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The most significant existing problem which needs to be solved immediately, in this case, is the question of a girl’s pregnancy. On this level, many controversial questions can appear. For instance, Christian principles suggest that motherhood and family is one of the critical points in women’s life. If to follow this idea, Sally should give birth to a child. On the other hand, sexual relationships before marriage are considered to be a sin. Thus, the child will be a child of sin, which predicts a terrible destiny for it. But the abortion contradicts the ideas of the patient’s Church with a robust anti-abortion ministry. The parents who are not Christians cause pressure on the patient, but as far as she strongly decided to be dedicated to God, it is essential for her to embark on denying the principles of her family. Thus, the counselor should discuss all the possible variants and their outcomes with the patient and help her to make a decision. They also should keep in mind that the combination of psychological and Biblical values is of vital importance.
Prayer can be applied in this case, as it can give a patient feeling of security. A counselor should pray together with the client in order to support her.
“The Clinician as Christian”: the most sense to you and why?
I found that the professional practice of a clinician as a Christian has a lot of aspects that should be considered. In my opinion, the integration of psychology and theology is the most meaningful technique in this course. Even though this method is somewhat relative (the clinician can choose the level of using the Bible in practice), I think that it is optimal in most cases. Cooperation between the counselor and the Church suggests that the counseling becomes more disciplined. I believe that this is the change which was needed to be introduced in the MFT practice.
Another point which I found very useful is that the process of healing is based not only on psychological training but also on prayer. To my mind, spiritual renovation is very significant and can lead to improvements in all the spheres of human life. A person driven by a healthy spirit is adequate and balanced; therefore, the psychological practice should go alone with the Christian tradition, which is not only a way of life but also a method of self-healing.
Understanding “The Clinician as Christian”
There are some points which I found confusing in this course. For example, is the advice of a counselor always right? Can it be considered as an absolutely correct point? And finally, should the patient follow the exact advice? Of course, a professional counselor knows precisely what needs to be done and how to help the patient. But, on the other hand, there is always a human factor present. This means that an MFT can make a decision which is optimal in his point of view, but which can prove to be not the best solution to the patient’s problems. In this case, who should be blamed?
Another question which I would like to understand more is the limitation of the counselor’s ethics. Specifically, there are some difficult situations when a person needs someone to help her, and the counselor does it from the point of view of a clinician and a Christian. But what if the doctor realizes that both ideas are contradicting to the things which would be best for the individual? What if there are some alternatives to the Christian principles, which can be less harmful to the personality? Should the doctor tell the patient? Or should they keep leading the patient the same way in order not to confuse?
I also would like to know how to define if the conditions are suitable for praying with a client. Earlier, it seemed to me that the prayer and the counseling should be separated and distinguished as different approaches. However, after studying this course, I understood that they could and should be combined. But still, it is not understandable enough for me how to choose a moment for prayer and how to know that the patient is ready for it. I think that clarification of this aspect is essential. In my opinion, the understanding of this issue can come with practice when the counselor learns to feel the beat of their client.
The method of outdoor prayer is also rather doubtful for me. I do not think that a counselor should rely on a patient and just encourage them to pray outside the sessions. The consciousness, obviously, is very flexible in most people, and therefore it is not secure enough to trust the patients. A person who is being treated needs constant control on the first stage, and in the case of clinician therapy, this control is somewhat limited.
What are you inclined to do as an MFT as a result of what you have learned about “The Clinician as Christian” and why?
Having studied this course, I learned a few principles which I am going to follow in my practice. For example, I understood that it is worth separating my thoughts from a direct conversation with a client. It means that I learned to paraphrase my own ideas and conclusions into questions that a client can be asked. This technique can be more effective than simple communication, as it involves the patient’s logical and critical thinking. By these means, the client can be guided to the right conclusion or decision, but it will look like a product of their own thoughts.
Another thing that I will use in my practice is teaching the clients about prayer. The relationships between the counselor and the patient are relatively intimate, and it is essential to make the client feel comfortable. Therefore, one should not be embarrassed because of a lack of knowledge about the prayer. My task as an MFT will be to encourage my clients to learn more about prayer, its techniques, and its effects.
I also learned that every client needs an individual approach. I understood that the psychological peculiarities and temperament of a client should be considered, and the sessions should be organized according to these factors. It means that a technique that is too strict for one individual cannot be sufficient enough for another. Thus, I am planning to start all my practices with a detailed studying of the client in order to find an appropriate way of working with them.