It’s easy to lock up as a counselor. For me, the most difficult session is the very first one. Breaking the ice is hard for me. It can be frustrating to know what to say, how to build trust, how to show that you care about someone you may have just met. Here are six ways that we can lay the groundwork for building a caring relationship with our counselee.
Proverbs 27:6 “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.”
Romans 12:10 “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor.”
One of the first things to do is to establish a friendship. A real friendship. It is important for the counselor to explain that a real friend will tell the truth all the time – even if it is a truth that can sting a bit. Even if a friend tells us a painful truth, they are still our friends. David and Jonathan are great examples of friends in the Bible, so are Paul and Timothy.
2 Timothy 3:14-17 “You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”
Jay Adams says, “When the sheep know the shepherd cares about their problems in an intimate way, they respond positively.” It is out of concern for the counselees that the counselor addresses their problems with sound Biblical advice. We as counselors must make sure that the advice we give is Biblical.
1 Peter 2:17 “Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.”
Our counselees are imago Dei, and as such, they deserve to be treated with respect. Ways that we can show respect are: maintaining culturally appropriate eye contact, listening well, and repeating back answers to affirm they were not only heard but understood.
Showing Love & Humility
Ephesians 4:2 “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love”
One way we show love to one another is to show honor to one another. We are not belittling them for their sins, but we come alongside our counselee and let them know that we too are sinners and Christ is indeed a great Savior. We love one another by being humble too. When we offer a long string of advice without doing so humbly and in love, we are not being true to the Word of God, but are merely offering advice from our own self-righteousness.
Demonstrating Care through Action
Galatians 6:2 “Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.”
We must show our counselee that we truly care. We cannot just spew a bunch of bible verses and expect our counselee to know that we care. We have to be sensitive towards them, reaching out to them if they miss an appointment, express concern, and above all pray for them.
Meeting their Daily Needs
James 2:15-16 “If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?”
We must go beyond superficially loving one another to truly being the hands and feet of Jesus. If they are struggling to meet their daily needs we can help them by helping them reach out to the church and/or other parachurch organizations who are equipped to help.
To read more tips on having a counseling session please read this: https://strivingforeternity.org/biblical-counseling-introductory-session/