The Counsellor

A couple of weeks ago and at the beginning of summer, I was privileged to attend an introductory course in Counselling and Psychotherapy, with a focus on Psychoanalysis.

Prior to attending the course, I could say I had some idea about counseling in general, but going on the course helped me solidify some of the knowledge I already had, gain some more and provided me with new skills.

The course, although intense, was very enriching, enlightening, and has since left me cogitating about life and relationships. As we discussed different theories and the psychodynamic approach to counselling, my appreciation for talking therapies gradually rose, seeing the benefit it offers and can offer to people going through difficulties in their lives or relationships.

In the course of the week, I started thinking of how many of my friends and families – myself included, could benefit from therapy – if only I could just drag them to one of these sessions I mused. But the truth is no one can be forced to seek help if they don’t think they need it or if they are too ashamed to admit that they do.

As the week progressed and I observed how many couples were attending for sessions, I noticed that not many couples and individuals are from similar backgrounds as me. It was evident that they were either going somewhere else or not interested in this type of intervention. I suspect the latter might be the case.

You see, I have observed from my own life and that of close friends and family, that those of us from Black African and or Christian backgrounds have the tendency to over-spiritualize or trivialize our issues.

And instead of taking appropriate actions in addition to our prayers, we bury our heads in the sand, forgetting that problems can have multiple roots, and therefore may require various interventions.

Perhaps some of the issues we spend years praying about won’t be so if only we could wake up to the reality that God has given us everything that pertains to life and Godliness.

I only wish more couples and individuals would seek counseling support, as if they did, we would see many marriages, families, and individuals thriving.

From my observations, women are the most likely to want to access counseling and men more likely to refuse to partake. The thought of a stranger or sometimes, their church Pastor peering into the crevices of their private life somehow bothers them. Whatever the reason for their reluctance or ambivalence, one thing is for sure, a problem ignored is a problem encouraged.

Therefore, let me encourage you if you are one of those thinking of whether or not to go and ask for help, my advice to you is, do it. The benefits are priceless. It may be time to seek out experienced counsellors/therapists if you’ve been trying to solve your marital or personal issues on your own, and are not getting far.

We all can do with formal or informal counselling support from time to time and these are not hard to access. There are agencies such as The RELATE Institute, Marriage Care and many others that work with skilled and accessible therapists.

However, this is not the focus of my journal this month. My focus is on the one Counsellor who never leaves us. In the Psychoanalytical approach to counseling, it seemed to me that the aim is not to permanently solve people’s problems. It assumes that most of the human problems can only be analysed and brought to the fore.

While this kind of therapy helps bring understanding to both the client and the therapist and seeks to encourage change, I understand however that this process can be somewhat long and slow to elicit change. There’s also the proclivity to become overly dependent on therapists.

Nevertheless, there’s one Counsellor; the Holy Spirit, therapist, adviser, guide, instructor, coach, teacher, head doctor, expert, Who guides us into all truth. He comforts us in our pain and reaches to parts of us that are hidden from others and from ourselves to produce long-lasting transformation. He is the third person of the Trinity.

John 14:16 (World English Bible)
“I will pray to the Father, and he will give you another Counsellor, that he may be with you forever”

This Counsellor doesn’t just use one, or a few approaches when helping us. He uses all forms of approaches as needed by each person. After all, he knows when and how we were formed.

I am so grateful that we have a helper who not only counsels us but also intercedes for us. With him, we don’t need an appointment or worry that he may misunderstand our presenting problems. He goes beyond our conscious and unconscious minds to uproot long standing problems that have the potential to rob us of a satisfying life.

The beautiful thing is that he will use human counsellors if he thinks it will help. He will also get his hands dirty and do the work himself if that’s what’s required. When life doesn’t seem to make sense, this comforter will stick with you and provide succor from pain and anxiety.

To be honest, I was initially anxious that the course could cloud my need of God or make the Holy Spirit’s role redundant in my life. But to the contrary, I was more convinced of my need for him by the time I completed the course.

In fact, it drives home the notion that science hints the very nature of God. Be it, Freud, Jung or Winnicott, including all the approaches there are in therapy, one thing is for sure, only the Holy Spirit can fulfill that role of a perfect Counsellor. All others can only offer a hint of what this one Counsellor can do. The question isn’t will he help you but would you let him?