What do “Faith based” and “Christian” Counseling mean to me?

I personally believe a person’s faith can give you strength and guidelines to live a better and more effective life. As a Licensed Professional Counselor my ethics dictate I should not try to impose my beliefs on you as a client and I should respect your beliefs. The only exception I would personally make would be if I felt your beliefs are harmful to you or another, in such a case I would suggest you seek counseling from someone else.

My background is based on Christian beliefs. I went so far as to spend two years working on a Masters of Divinity degree before obtaining my Masters in Counseling degree. That is not to say that I am not comfortable or unwilling to work with persons of other faiths. In fact I have done extensive study and reading to better understand what other faiths teach. I often ask others from different backgrounds to explain to me what they believe and their understanding of how this applies to their current situation.

A good example of how this works when working with couples and families: I work from the assumption that what makes a family work is to treat each other with love as defined in the following:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
1 Corinthians 13 (NIV)

This should be a bench mark by which how a family treats each other should be measured. I often, at least internally, question what a couple means when they say they love each other if they are not treating each other this way. I will ask them what their love means. Too often it is based only on an emotional warm feeling. We all know these  warm feelings can come and go.


Do values count?

I recently watched the movie “A Solitary Man.” In it the lead character, Ben, finds out he has a medical condition, which needs to be treated. Instead of seeking treatment and talking with his family he chooses to become very hedonistic in how he lives his life. Over the next few years he leaves behind a trial of women he seduced, criminal dealings in his business and even a disappointed grandson.

His life became an example of “you reap what you sow.” His business dealings cost him fines and nearly got him thrown in jail. His womanizing cost him another business deal. His daughter told him to stop calling. She would not even let him talk with his grandson any more. His life got about as bad as it could get.

Yet, when things really got bad his daughter and ex-wife showed him unconditional love and reached out to him, offering him help.

What values control your life? Which way do you live your life? Do you think only of yourself and your desires or do you think of others and reach out to them when they need it most?