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4 Steps to Finding a Great Counselor

Posted Jan 07 2009 5:09pm

Abuse & Trauma Header

So, we are in the first week of January 2009; it is time for considering what type of year you would like to have.  I want you to know that you have some control over the outcome of 2009.  You can make plans and take steps toward healing from the abuse and trauma that you endured.

When you want to heal, you will need help from someone that loves God and knows how to apply his truth to your wo Panninggold unds.  Finding a counselor, a person who will give you hope to heal, is like finding a piece of gold when you are panning in a running stream.  I am going to be honest with you.  Matter of fact, truth is the foundation of our Christian faith, so I hope to always be honest with you when I write.  There is a wide variety of counselors; be warned! 

Just because someone calls themselves a "Christian" counselor doesn't mean they counsel according to Biblical Truth, and using a church staff counselor doesn't guarantee that you have found a precious, godly counselor either.  Many people can be sincere, and want to help, but at the same time may not be equipped by God with experience, wisdom, knowledge, or Spirit-filled discernment.

I have seen many different counselors in my 45 years, and so have my friends and siblings.  Few counselors have been helpful or good, in a permanent, healing way. 

At this point, you might be wondering if I am just sharing doom and gloom or if I have good news.  I want to assure you, I have good news.  Great therapist/counselors are in practice and can be found!  God has called many dear Christians to heal the sick and to free the oppressed. Isaiah 60:1: says, " The Spirit of the Lord GOD is on Me, because the LORD has anointed Me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and freedom to the prisoners." When you feel God asking you to seek wise counsel, I want you to be equipped to find a counselor that will help you heal, instead of harm you or waste your time and money.

I know the initial visit can be the most fearful.  It is very hard to make the first step.  Let's face it, it is painful to admit that you need help.  You don't want to trust someone with your inner thoughts and feelings. It takes faith in God's love and acceptance of you to trust others.  You will have to stop the coping behaviors that you have used to numb the pain.  You will have to be willing to change you thoughts and actions to line up with God's plan for your life.  You will have to surrender control to God.  You will no longer be a victim.  You will change.

If you have a dear friend, a sister in the Lord, ask her to pray with you about the steps you are making and the actual initial visit.  Prayer cover is very important and powerful.  If you do not yet have a person to confide in, leave a prayer request for the ladies in the Christian Woman Take Root website Prayer Request Discussion Group.  Wonderful, godly woman are ready to pray and would consider it a high privilege to talk to God on your behalf.

Hopefully, this list will be helpful in determining if a counselor can guide you to God's healing:

1.  Ask if the therapist is a Christian.

You may wonder why this is essential.  Well, a therapist is going to be talking to you about your life, suggesting ways to change your thoughts, actions and attitudes.  During counseling you carefully consider the hurts in your heart, and you look for ways to understand what has happened. Wisdom and God's Word must be applied to your wounds and only a strong Christian with a vibrant personal relationship with Jesus is equipped to help you truly heal.  If the counselor does not guide from a God's worldview (biblical worldview), you are going to get a lot of talk and advise, but little, if any, truth and wisdom necessary to deal with soul and spirit wounds.

2.  Inquire about education, training, continuing education, certifications, and experience.

Every situation is unique and requires a different amount of knowledge and experience.  It is very Childmeeting-1 important for you make sure the person you are going to share your heart with is capable of handling your issues.  Most therapists have an area of expertise; a specialty they are really proficient in helping people recover.

Many ladies discover in counseling that they feel vulnerable, like a little child, especially if the abuse or trauma took place in childhood. You may not think you can trust anyone or that you even deserve to have someone to help you.  In your hurting, you need protection.  Allow the adult/parent part of you, that would check out a doctor for your own children, to look out for your welfare.  It is not only OK, but it is very necessary to ask a potential counselor hard questions.

While most education and certifications will legally qualify a person to deal with a wide variety of issues, God enables people to be supernaturally equipped for certain areas of ministry.  Abortion, divorce/separation, substance abuse, eating disorders, sleep disorders, rape, physical abuse, anger management, compulsion, depression, and grief are all very different issues. 

Find out if the counselor you are considering has had much experience in the area you need assistance.  You wouldn't go to a podiatrist to help with double vision or you wouldn't go to a orthopedic surgeon to help you with a bladder infection, so why would you go to a therapist that specializes in abortion and rape if you are have had neither but are struggling with your marriage.

3.  Set up an initial consultation

  • See if your personalities mesh.  Do you sense you can trust this person?
  • Find out if your insurance covers fees, and about urgent call policies, e-mails, and availability at unscheduled appointment times.
  • Ask about their success with clients with similar situations.  How many women have finished therapy and are living functioning, stable lives?  How many clients do they currently have?
  • Discuss types of therapies used (talk therapy, EMDR, brainspotting, hypnotherapy, workbooks, group therapy)
  • See if your Christian beliefs are similar.  Many different people with wide views say they are Christian.  You want to make sure your major beliefs are similar.  Will prayer or Scripture be used during counseling. Do they pray for guidance before, during, and/or after a session?
  • Have they ever referred a client to another counselor because the case was out of their expertise?  Do they work with other counselors for consultation, suggestions, support?
  • Have they had patients attempt or commit suicide or become suicidal between sessions?
  • Ask about therapist plans for your sessions.  How long does the therapist think it may take?  What will you be expected to do between sessions.  Will you have homework, read books, watch DVDs, attend support groups, or follow a workbook?  What if your session runs over time?  How does the therapist make sure you are grounded and ready to leave a session?
  • What kind of resources or support will you have?  If you have a crisis, what do you do?  Who will be on call?  How easy can an appointment be added to his/her schedule?  How frequently does she return phone messages?  Can she be reached on weekend or after hours?  Does the therapist help you to set up your own resources to use in between sessions if raw feelings start to effect your daily life, or trigger you emotionally?
  • See if this therapist works closely with a psychiatrist in case their will be a need for medication.

4.  Pray!  Wait patiently on God.  Listen quietly for His directions

God will help you.  He will confirm in your spirit if you need to proceed with the counselor.  He has a very special individualistic healing plan for your life.  Follow Him closely and He will show you the right counselor.  Do not rush.  Wait on the Lord.  God wants you to be healed, so He will guide you to the person He wants you to have as your counselor.

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