This book is a practical little guide that should be required reading for every student in the helping profession whether it be counseling, psychology, social work, nursing, etc. It is relavent in the times in which we live because this world is so full of hardship and heartache, nevertheless we have an awesome God who always has been, always is and always will be our hope when there seems to be little to none. This little handbook is a wonderful resource tool for the counseling office as it has a treatment goal diagram for therapy and poems about hardship and hope through God, which can be utilized as therapy tools. The poems can be copied and given to or simply read to clients. This is one little book that would not just sit on your shelf. It would be used time and time again!
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The Spiritual Handbook for Counseling Students, Counselors and the Clients They CounselWhy and How To Include God in the Traditional Counseling Session
By Amy G. Moler
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2010 Amy G. Moler
All right reserved.
Chapter OneDEVELOPING A TREATMENT PLAN AND TREATMENT GOALS
Unbelievably, most clients enter therapy with a problem; however, they have no treatment plans or treatment goals in mind. Most state they just "came to talk." They do not really have a clear goal in mind. Although "talking" about one's problems can be helpful to some, most counselors do not become therapists to simply sit and listen to their clients tell the same story repeatedly, session after session, with minimal change taking place, no treatment plan, and no treatment goals.
The development of good treatment plans and treatment goals became more and more important as my career advanced. I sat down with each client, couple or family when they first presented and together we developed a treatment plan and treatment goals where we identified the problem they came in for, the changes they wanted to make, how they would know when they had mastered these changes, and the treatment they could expect to receive to meet their goals.
Later in my counseling career, I always "warned" my clients that at least one session would be devoted to and focused upon their spirituality and religious beliefs. I cannot remember a time when a client EVER made this one session their last, even those who found the subject uncomfortable at first.
I explained to clients that it would be a disservice to them if I left out this most important relationship in their life. I likened it to the client being addicted to drugs, regularly using drugs and refusing to EVER discuss the issue with me. I would be doing them a grave disservice if I never mentioned the problems this was causing them. Likewise, in not discussing their relationship with God, I would be skipping their most important relationship and social support they could ever have.
The information obtained may be as simple as information about church attendance, whether they have a Christian support system, whether or not they believe in a "Higher Power", and discussing their devotional lifestyle.
During the initial intake session, I developed the following simple grid to gather information about the client:
Physical Social Relational
Emotional Occupational/Financial Spiritual
This is a "visual" aid that helps clients easily see areas of strength and weakness. I explained the importance of having a healthy balance of one's physical stability, relational stability, emotional stability, spiritual stability, social stability, and occupational/financial stability. If there is a weakness in one area then almost inevitably the other areas are negatively impacted as well. For example, if a client is in poor physical health they are often anxious or depressed, thus influencing their emotional health as well.
Inevitably, I had a pattern of receiving very little or very general "spiritual" information from at least 85% of my clients. I came to realize that either the majority of my clients did not have a strong relationship with the Lord or they simply did not want to talk about God in therapy. In fact, I cannot count the number of times clients told me, "I used to see another counselor, but he/she talked too much about God so I quit going." This was an obvious message for me not to talk about God! But that is certainly not to say that God was not invited and included during opportunities made by Him. Amazingly, when I left it in God's hands, He always took care of how He would enter the sessions!
Over the years, I changed in how much including God in the sessions mattered to me. As stated previously, earlier in my career I had been discouraged from talking about religion in sessions. I remember feeling as if I were slapping a band- aid on a deep wound without washing it and caring for it first, never helping clients make long- term, permanent changes. Something was missing. These deep wounds needed to be cleansed and neatly dressed so they could heal from the inside out. This is when I began to recognize the power of God in therapy.
I began seeing mental illness that was more serious and began working numerous emotionally challenging crisis calls. The world of counseling was in the same world where mass homicides were occurring, suicide bombings, bank shootings, etc. and my job involved being a part of these crises. Being in private practice during some of this time, I was not able to discuss the crises with a coworker as I had been used to doing in the past when working in clinics with other counselors. Not being able to debrief myself and not being able to talk to anyone following these crisis calls began to take its toll on me emotionally. It was at that time that I turned to God for support and strength.
I began to have a more mature prayer life, devotional life and I became a more kingdom-minded person. I began to see God's hand in my life everywhere and obvious answers to my prayers. I began to be lead by the Holy Spirit more and more. The Lord was really revealing himself to me in so many ways. I knew I owed the Lord as much or more than He was so freely giving to me. I began to pray for a breakthrough for lasting transformation in myself as well as in my clients. Part of this meant me finding a way to talk to these clients about their relationships with God. I could go no longer "beating around the bush."
I also knew that if the Lord was doing these things in my life, He worked in everybody else's life in the same fashion. I wanted to know what kind of relationship my clients had with this awesome God and I wanted to know how they were utilizing Him to help themselves, for I knew He was far more capable, reliable, and able than I was. I began to pray before each session that God would simply use me as a human vessel through which to do His work for my clients. After all, He knew their every need so much better than I ever could.
When I became open to hearing about their relationship with God more and more of my clients began talking to me about God. It just seemed to happen. I did not ask more; they just started offering more or asking me more questions about God. It was so obviously God doing this work in these sessions.
... being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. -Philippians 1:6
Nevertheless, there were still many of my clients who talked very little about anything religious or spiritual in nature. I finally realized that I, personally, could not help these clients. What I mean by this is that I could not help them make true, lasting changes that would allow them to become "non-dependent" on counseling for the rest of their life. Not being able to help these clients in this way lead me to leave the clinical counseling field to pursue Christian Counseling, counseling where 100% of clients sought or at least expected to include God in their sessions and in their treatment.
"The Lord knows those who are His," and, "Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity."- 2Timothy 2:19 I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the work! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.- 2 Timothy 4:1-2 (NKJV).
I believe it is every counselor's obligation. It is abundantly clear that God is in absolute control of the universe and that true meaning and fulfillment in the life of our clients are based on their relationship with Him. We know that bad things happen to good people and that good will prevail-either in this world or in the world to come. Psalm 71:5 tells us "O Lord, you alone are my hope." My maturing spirituality meant more hope for my clients and me!
But why was it so important that they talk to me about their relationship with God and why do I think it is so important that every counselor do the same? I would like to answer this question for those of you who are studying to become counselors, who are counselors, who are clients, who are prospective clients and for anyone who has a problem and is going to talk to someone (even a friend) to get help with that problem.
Learning to Be Still (Written by the Author)
Why does no one hear, What I am trying to say? I talk and talk and talk, To show them their way.
I want them to know the truth, The truth that I can see. Because if they understood that, Maybe they'll understand me.
Why can't I get them to listen, To have an understanding of Thee? Is it because I say so much, Knowing You isn't meant to be?
Why do I care so much, What others think of You? It's because I love them so, I want them to love God too.
Don't you have this problem, Just like I do Lord, Getting us to listen, To what you have in store?
Don't you have this problem, the one I have about love? Trying to get us to love you, From a distance, far above?
You don't force us to listen, By talking us to death. You quietly carry out your plan, And patiently wait for the rest.
How can you wait so patiently, Lord, When your love is not returned? You have the power to make us hear, Whatever you want us to learn.
It's not about power, you say, But in understanding your will, For us to learn to love you, And for me to learn to be still.
So if I'm quietly me, others will likely see, Everything I've said about You, will all be seen in me.
Chapter TwoTHE MOST IMPORTANT RELATIONSHIP OF ALL
Counselors should model Godly integrity. This will allow them to talk to their clients about the client's relationship with God. The reason is that their relationship with God is the most important one they will ever have in their lifetime. Research supports the notion that if a person has a strong, close relationship with the Lord, then they are much more likely to have strong, healthy relationships with others. Clients can learn from the Bible that forgiveness can restore broken relationships. In fact, the path to having a relationship with God is through the Bible. God reveals Himself to us in the Bible.
When you build your relationship with the Lord you can literally feel your own identity changing. Your old ways become new. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new. - 2 Corinthians 5:17(NKJV). I am here to tell all counselors that telling their clients to completely turn their lives over to our almighty, faithful, all knowing, and all-powerful God is the easiest and healthiest move they will ever make. These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer. I have overcome the world." -John: 16:33 (NKJV). The rewards they will receive consequently will be more than they can begin to imagine and so much more than they have ever been able to do on their own! God is omnipotent. He is all powerful and almighty. In the words of Job, "I know You can do everything. And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You. - Job 42:2 In the 19th chapter of Matthew, 26th verse, we hear Jesus saying, "With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."
So, how do clients build their relationship with the Lord? They talk to Him. They tell Him they want a better relationship with Him. They tell Him they do not know Him as well as they would like to. They talk to Him as if He is their friend because He is. It really is that simple. God wants to be touched. He wants to mix and mingle with us. The Bible tells us that God seeks who will worship Him in spirit and truth. When clients start talking to God, they will then understand what it feels like to have a growing relationship with Him. God already knows them, but He still wants this relationship with them. Clients often say, "Nobody understands me." God understands them. God is omniscient. O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down, And are acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue, But behold, O Lord, You know it altogether. You have hedged me behind and before, And laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is high, I cannot attain it. - Psalm 1-6
Recommend to your clients to read their Bible and to have a strong devotional life. They need to do this to find out who God is. The Bible describes God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit and they can get to know God intimately. God inspired every word in the Bible so that we may get to know Him and His desires.
God is eternal. Exodus 3:14 states, "I AM THAT I AM." He always has been, always is now and always will be. Clients are used to having people abandon them in one way or another. God will never leave them. He can be ever present in their hearts with every step they take.
God is Omnipresent. He is everywhere! Clients often feel both alone and lonely. They can never get away from God for the Bible says, "Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there; If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, Even there Your hand shall lead me, And Your right hand shall hold me. If I say, "Surely the darkness shall fall on me," Even the night shall be light about me; Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You, But the night shines as the day; both are alike to You. - Psalm 7-12.
The Holy Spirit's role in our client's spiritual maturation is essential. It is by the power and presence of the Holy Spirit that we really come to know God intimately. Seeking the Holy Spirit allows us to find rest in His presence and to walk by His power. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 22:- 23). When Jesus left this earth, He sent us the Holy Spirit so that we could still walk in His presence. Jesus tells us in John 14:16 that the Holy Spirit would be our Helper and that He would be with us forever.
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh, And I will put my Spirit within you. -Ezekiel 36:26-27(NKJV)
There are those times when we all feel our family and friends have deserted us. We may even have times when we feel God has deserted us. However, God never deserts us. God's love always stands as a constant in our life. Clients can depend on His friendship.... but I have called you friend. John 15:15. (NKJV) I will never leave you nor forsake you.- Hebrews 13:5. (NKJV)
THE HOLY HIGHWAY (written 11-01-07 by an 8 year-old boy)
Going down the highway Passing all the cars, Wind right in my face, While I'm screamin' really hard. No more hiding from the devil, I want to go with God Because he is my Savior And he's always by my side. Jesus died on the cross for me He suffered nails and thorns One day he will choose me then the angels will take me home. One day I'll be an angel, A messenger of God. The angels will teach me Then I'll guide someone home.
Excerpted from The Spiritual Handbook for Counseling Students, Counselors and the Clients They Counsel by Amy G. Moler Copyright © 2010 by Amy G. Moler. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
1 Developing a Treatment Plan and Treatment Goals....................1
Learning to Be Still: Poem by the Author....................7
2 The Most Important Relationship of All....................9
The Holy Highway: Poem by an 8 year-old boy....................13
3 During a Crisis....................15
Twelve Years Old: Poem by the Author....................19
4 The Resource of Prayer....................27
Turning It Over through Prayer and Worship: Poem by the Author....................28
5 Bible Promises....................35
You Worry Too Much: Poem by the Author....................38
6 Building a Support System....................41
Just Hold Me: Poem by the Author....................44
7 Abiding in Christ....................47
Abiding in Him: Poem by the Author....................52