How many of you are currently in therapy or have been to see a therapist in the past? Don’t be shy, raise your hand. Believe it or not, in 2017 there still seems to be a stigma attached to going to therapy. Why? The truth is that we all have “stuff” that we could use a little time talking to someone. Let’s be COMPLETELY upfront and admit that counseling has been taboo in the black community for ages. Luckily, it’s beginning to turn around but we here in the south still have some work to do. When going through multicultural training, there is special attention given to the stereotypes of how people of color view therapy, especially those in the church community. No worries, I like to say that counseling is biblical, we’ll examine that in this post. For the sake of this post, we will use the terms therapy and counseling interchangeably; full disclosure, the definition of counseling was much more appealing. So let’s look at the definition.
According to Google counseling is “the provision of assistance and guidance in resolving personal, social, or psychological problems and difficulties, especially by a professional.” The American Counseling Association (ACA) has a definition that is a little more complicated, ” Professional counseling is a professional relationship that empowers diverse individuals, families, and groups to accomplish mental health, wellness, education, and career goals (Counseling.org).” The ACA’s definition has a key word that sticks out, empowers. How do therapists/counselors empower their clients? Truthfully, there isn’t a simple answer to that question. There are various theories, treatments, and interventions that a professional may choose from to use when with their client. But, leave it to Google to highlight the most important element of the counseling process. Google’s definition states, “assistance and guidance,” one more time for my people in the back, ASSISTANCE AND GUIDANCE. What’s the big deal? Therapists/counselors are change agents, assistants, it is up to the client to do the work!
It can be hard to believe but there are people that come to therapy with zero intentions on making the necessary changes in their life. The reason is different for everyone, but yes it’s true. I don’t want to minimize the hard work it takes to change. Working on ourselves is the most difficult work we will ever do in our lives, and quite frankly a work that is never completely finished because as we continue to grow we will continue to find areas that we can tweak to make our lives better.
By now I hope that you have noticed that we have not mentioned mental illness. Reason being is that one does not have to be mentally ill or severely emotionally disturbs to go to therapy. It is okay to go to a therapist when hitting a rough patch in your life. That rough patch could be due to grief, anxiety, career challenges, your nosy coworker or neighbor, that family member that keeps tap dancing on your nerves, your spouse, your kids, sexual dysfunctions, gambling issues, you name it, you can talk about it with a therapist. Why? It’s biblical!
Yes, I said it, seeking counsel is biblical. The book of Proverbs is often called the book of wisdom. The entire book is filled with wise sayings, literally the meaning of a proverb. Proverbs is guidance on how to live our lives on a daily basis. The kings of Israel sought counsel from the priests on decisions that were made about the kingdom. Consider all of the letters written to the churches giving guidance to them on how to live their Christian lives, Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1& 2 Thessalonians, 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews, James, 1 & 2 Peter, 1, 2, & 3 John, and Jude all give some advice, assistance, and/or guidance to the audience the letters were written. We can not simply ignore that seeking someone outside of yourself has been around for centuries. Jesus himself referred to the Holy Spirit as a counselor.
This was all said in order to confront the plague of the community, specifically the black southern church community, that we should “just pray about it.” There’s so much to confront in that statement. Can we just agree to let that statement rest in peace 2017 going forward? Pray, yes. Seek counsel, also yes. You can do both!
Counseling can seem intimidating at first. Hopefully, your therapist will build a wonderful working relationship with you in order to help you make the changes you are willing to make. Remember, it is up to you to do the work! Now, call me to book a session!
P.S. – There were no specific scriptures written but I will say Romans is a GOOD READ! Also, you can read one chapter in Proverbs daily and you will get through the entire book in a month. The stuff in Proverbs is applicable to everyday life.
P.S.S. Photo by @LIWORDSON on Instagram.