FURTHER TWO ADDENDUMS TO THE BOOK SINCE PUBLICATION
COUNSELLING SESSIONS - TWO IMPORTANT SUGGESTED PRACTICES
[IMPORTANT NOTE - Since writing this page, one very experienced counsellor using TBC has developed a very simple way of using Dr. Law's chart (in a different format) and the picture of a Pirate ship and the Christian ship (see Dr. Law's comment to non-Christian counsellees in BAGFY p.13 and 107-8). The results are very direct, take very little time, AND THE COUNSELLEE EFFECTIVELY ANALYSES HIMSELF with very little help from the counsellor - he also effectively takes his own notes. For those engaged in counselling willing to try TBC please contact me for the amended chart and a detailed outline of the method that has been developed.]
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I would like to suggest two important points of practice that should work well during counselling meetings.
(1) NOTE TAKING.
In BAGFY we specifically recommend that the counsellor does NOT take notes as this can be intimidating to counsellees (p.108-9), and furthermore the counsellors attention is distracted from the counsellee. There can be an awkward silence while the counsellor makes his notes that breaks the flow of conversation of the meeting. During meetings there are often many points that arise that the counsellee needs to remember. I recommend that the counsellee himself should write them down. They may be surprised but they should be told that beforehand that they are likely to forget many of the points that are brought out. If they make full notes of their own, they will often write down something the counsellor has said that has struck them as important - which the counsellor may have glossed over. They often say “That’s an interesting point; I’ll make a note of that.” Sometimes their notes can be quite extensive.
Notes taken by the counsellee makes them much more personal to him - and he keeps them for future use. Every time he reads them he is reinforcing what has been said at the meeting. It may not be just a list of things to do, but as in this particular case, he may hear things, perhaps in the Bible or about his behaviour, that had never struck him before - and HE makes a note of it.
(2) LENGTH OF INTERVIEW
On more than one occasion, my counselling session has lasted three hours, which may seem long but actually goes very quickly. The counsellee becomes increasingly intrigued as the meeting progresses by what I am able to show him about his attitude to life and what the Bible had to say. Most counsellees are only too willing to talk about themselves anyway at some length, so it is no problem to them! I have personally found that one full meeting like this is the best way to get down to the really basic problems of the counsellee. There are several points;
(a) It takes time for the counsellee to “unwind”, relax and begin to open up and tell of his deeper problems that he almost certainly has never told anyone else before. It takes time to reach this point of trust and confidentiality. If several meetings are used, then each one has to start off “cold”. This is a very important aspect of counselling.
(b) If 1 hour was given for each interview, this would require three separate meetings that would take much time in travel etc. The benefits are obvious. To break off at a set time (perhaps for another meeting) can be disastrous, for you are likely to be just on the point of getting down to the "nitty gritty" of his situation.
(c) Between each meeting, the counsellee may go through some incident that upsets him and this aspect may have not been covered in the previous meetings. Because he has failed to cope, he may not want to come for further talks. Had the full range of subjects been covered in one meeting he may have been warned about this particular problem.
(d) I do not think that giving advice in separate lumps is as good as examining all the basic problems in one session. ALL the various aspects can be considered and the lessons (hopefully) driven home to the counsellee. With adequate time, eventually the meeting can become a real “in depth” examination of the problems that trouble him - and this takes time to develop. Once trust had been developed, often, quite late in the meeting, the counsellee may mentioned a particular problem he was facing, that actually contributed to his main difficulties. He would probably have given no indication of this problem but was waiting to see how the meeting progressed. When trust had been established, then he will open up even further.
(e) The door should be left open for further meetings if he feels that he would like to have them. These should only be agreed to if he wants further clarification and help. If the counsellee has NOT done much to help himself and only wants another “pity party session”, then further counselling should be refused until he has put into practice MOST of what you advised last time. As we say in BAGFY, insist that you want him to CHANGE, not just have a series of interesting talks together - often to flatter his ego and give him some temporary relief.
Counselling can be very stressful and time consuming, and each counsellor develops their own methods, but these suggestions may be of some help in ultimately making the whole process easier for both parties.
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