I am in a masters program for Mental Health Counseling, and a teacher of mine shared some scriptures with the class to help us understand the importance of being a counselor. She wanted us to know that is not only essential to have knowledge but to be spiritually sound as well. Christians often are in the position to counsel or give others advice without understanding the level of significance and weight that it bears. Sometimes people are seriously ill or hurting internally and need help and giving them a scripture, telling them to pray and sending them on their way is not the answer. I just want to share some pertinent and spiritual information as it relates to the role of a counselor [advisor]. This is only a small morsel of the vast world of counseling and definitely not me telling you to follow what I say. I am simply sharing what I have learned from my own perspective. These are not the views or beliefs of all counselors or professionals in the field; this is my subjective opinion.
Isaiah 61:1-4 (New Living Transalation) Says: The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released, and prisoners will be freed. He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord’s favor has come, and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies. To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory. They will rebuild the ancient ruins, repairing cities destroyed long ago. They will revive them, though they have been deserted for many generations.
This scripture has several guidelines or principles from a Christian perspective that a counselor can use to understand one’s role when being called upon to help others.
One can relate these scriptural guidelines to the general ethical principles found in Clara E. Hill’s third edition of her book entitled Helping Skills.
Verse one of the bible says “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released, and prisoners will be freed” (Isaiah 61:1 New Living Translation). This scripture can be in connection with the principles of beneficence, and nonmaleficence. Beneficence refers to counselors being committed to help others grow and develop. Nonmaleficence speaks of not harming or neglecting one’s clients. God has called counselors to help by empowering others, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to use the God-given tools within to shed light on dark areas that need to be healed and strengthened. This would also allow one to see oneself as Christ does.
Verse two states, “He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord’s favor has come, and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies” (Isaiah 61:2 New Living Translation). This verse can relate to the ethical principle of justice. Justice is a person having a fair opportunity to be heard and get the proper help that one would need to not just survive but live. Counselors have the responsibility to provide service to those in need who may not be able to pay or lack in some way. God has called his people to serve the poor and the hungry, and this may not always be of financial benefit, but it could be in the spirit of one’s mental and emotional needs. People are starving for more than just food.
Verse three, “To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory” (Isaiah 61:3 New Living Translation). One could think of the principle of veracity in relationship to this scripture. Veracity is the counselor providing the client with the truth. Being genuine and honest is important, so that the client has something solid to lean on. The counselor can help give one the strength to stand firm in the power of the truth. A counselor can guide the client in seeing the truth of the matter instead of the deception or lies others, particular experiences, situations, or oneself may have been fed.
The last part of the scripture says, “They will rebuild the ancient ruins, repairing cities destroyed long ago. They will revive them, though they have been deserted for many generations” (Isaiah 61:4 New Living Translation). Autonomy and Fidelity connect with this final principle. A counselor’s therapeutic relationship with the client is important. Fidelity, meaning a counselor being able to keep commitments and confidential information private, so that one does not feel violated. Just these simple, yet complex things can help restore the idea of relationships in a client’s life. It can help restore one’s view of connecting and communicating with others in a relationship, and with God. When one feels as though a relationship is possible, one is able to understand one’s needs and boundaries in order to grow. This is where autonomy comes into play. Autonomy is a person’s right to make the choices that will empower one’s beliefs and values, as well as taking the necessary steps to put these things into action. A counselor has the ability to empower one to make decision that will ultimately benefit one’s life and the world around one.
A counselor has a lot of power but even more guidance of Christ. Not only are the mental and emotional aspects being dealt with but the spiritual part of one’s self as well. A counselor can give a person an outline of what a healthy life and relationship looks like. God knows every part and intricate detail of one’s being and a counselor has the opportunity to walk along side him, through the intimate parts and places of one’s existence. This is only with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. This role and level of access should always be taken seriously because the counselor has a hand in deepest areas of one’s life. This is why it is important for the counselor who is a believer to study academically but also biblically, so that when one does receive access within a person that leads to unknown realms, one will have the creator of it all throughout the process.
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Author: Francine Ott
Francine is truly thankful to have a relationship with God and is seeking Him daily for guidance and any opportunities to walk closer with Him in truth and love. Francine is a choreographer/dancer, teacher, and soon to be counselor who has a heart to see God's transforming power, renew, restore, and heal the minds, souls, and bodies of people's lives.