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counselling isn’t always enough
counselling is aimed at facilitating psychosocial, behavioural and emotional
functioning. Typically, someone has a difficulty getting along with others or in
feeling satisfied with oneself or in meeting personal goals and/or societal
expectations. Social workers, psychologists and psychiatrist generally offer
this counselling. However, persons with other academic training can provide it
too. The counselling is often known as individual, couple/marital, or family
counselling and is provided from a non-religious perspective.
secular counselling cannot offer is to repair one’s relationship with God or
appease concerns such as when one’s preferred choice brings him or her into
conflict with religious beliefs or expectations.
example, infidelity is a sin. Secular counselling may repair the
person-to-person relationship but cannot, by extension, repair one’s
relationship to God or one’s faith in view of sin. For many persons whose
behaviour has put them in conflict with their faith and religious training, they
experience a shame and remorse that can go well beyond the secular relationships
to place them at odds spiritually. This in turn may cause them to feel or actually be outside of
their faith and/or congregation. They may withdraw from religious practice and
their supportive community. Some of these persons may feel they will be held
accountable in an afterlife and suffer. They carry a weight that next may
undermine their day-to-day performance and relationships that secular
counselling cannot undo.
persons whose faith and religion has played a role in their lives, it becomes
necessary to meet with their clergy or religious leader to address their sin and
thus repair their spiritual relationship. This may require certain rituals such
as confession an/or other requirements for atonement and for reconnection with
one’s faith and congregation.
other situations, a person may experience a dilemma trying to meet their own
needs in view of demands imposed by the expectations of one’s religion. Again,
by way of example, some persons have been abused by a parent but may feel the
edict, ‘honour thy father and mother’, requires them to continually
subordinate their needs to their parents even when contrary to one’s well
being. Hence, meeting with one’s clergy or religious leader can play an
important role in clarifying religious expectations and finding solutions that
mitigate such dilemmas. The issue
here is not one of sin per se, but finding a way to act in accordance with
one’s faith against the backdrop of ethical, spiritual or religious
requirements. This becomes even more paramount if an abusive parent appears to
hold the child hostage to their demands on the basis of scripture.
In such situations a secular counsellor cannot speak with the authority
as one’s clergy or religious leader.
in these kinds of situations would benefit from guidance and direction from
their clergy or religious leader or at least someone representing their faith.
is at times a divide between those who provide secular counselling and those who
provide pastoral counselling or spiritual guidance. In the interest of the
person needing help, attention to secular and spiritual needs may both be
necessary. Both needs if unaddressed can undermine day-to-day functioning.
If you are suffering, the result of a perceived sin or from being stuck in a dilemma where your decision may be contraindicated by your faith, seek pastoral counselling, the guidance and direction that can only be offered by your clergy or a religious leader representing your faith. Further, you may feel more at ease with faith based counselling rather than secular counselling. You need not be in conflict with your religious beliefs. You should be able to enjoy spiritual peace of mind as well as repair relationships person-to-person and feel good about yourself.
Direnfeld, MSW, RSW
Call Gary for your next conference and for expert opinion on family matters. Services include counselling, mediation, assessment, assessment critiques and workshops.
For information on Direnfeld's book, Raising Kids Without Raising Cane, click here.
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