Counseling Failure: a private memo to counselors

Some counselees come to counseling and seem to really respond to God in ways that bring observable changes to their lives. As their counselor, it is encouraging to be part of this process. I enjoy watching God work in the lives of his children.

I am well aware that it is not I who brings the change. I’m merely a Christian brother the counselee chooses to listen to as I share wisdom from God. Ultimately it is God who brings the change, if a counselee experiences change at all.

There are other times counselees will come to my office for counseling, but they do not change. They do not engage God and, thus, never come to a God-centered understanding and practice that brings long-term change in their lives. As I have pondered these two counseling outcomes I’ve tried to understand why there are differences from counselee to counselee.

A Look at the Log in My Eye

It would be inappropriate and unbiblical for me not to address my own shortcomings in the counseling process. As the counselor, I am the obvious first place to look for personal responsibility when counseling another person. Most certainly, I have many shortcomings which can hinder others who come to me for help. My temptations toward self-righteousness, that work out as impatience, harshness, or frustration with a counselee, are a definite problem when trying to help another person.

My theological weaknesses are also shortcomings, as well as the dullness that comes when I have unconfessed or un-repented sin in my life. At other times I can totally miss the need of the counselee or misapply the Word of God to the life of the counselee.

It is not my desire to hinder anyone from getting to the only One who can help them. However, I have to be realistic: I am a fallen man in a fallen world, who hopes to assist other fallen people as they make their way to God. However, though I am imperfect and the counseling that I do is imperfect, I am assured that God’s capacity to save and sanctify is far greater than my capacity to botch things up.

I am not making a case for counselor sloppiness, nor am I promoting laziness in the counseling office. Though it is true that I do not counsel perfectly, it is also true that God is greater than all my sin. It is baffling, but true, that God chooses

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About Rick Thomas

Rick has been training in the Upstate of South Carolina since 1997. After several years as a counselor and pastor he founded and launched his own training organization in order to encourage and equip people for more effective living. In the early ’90’s he earned a BA in Theology. Later he earned a BS in Education. In 1993 he was ordained into Christian ministry and in 2000 he graduated with a MA in Counseling. In 2006 he was recognized as a Fellow with ACBC. Today his organization reaches people in every country through consulting, training, blogging, and coaching.
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