Counseling Statement

Rules and guidelines, and how to do things. Have a question about how the boards work? Here's an answer.

Counseling Statement

Postby The-OG » Tue May 31, 2005 3:54 am

From time to time we hear folks talk about how much they have been helped and blessed by what happens here on the TMB forums. People report that the help and fellowship here brings healing and new life to their sex lives and their marriages - a few have even said it has saved their marriage. While that is very gratifying, we realize that many problems are beyond the scope of what is offered here. We also know that some folks won't find answers here for problems even if others have found answers for the same issues. On-line forums like this are only one of many sources of help for those with marital, sexual, mental, and emotional problems.

There have been questions about what other forms of help can be of use. We've also been asked on occasion if we support/approve of/recommend/or believe in various types of help and various ministries. The oversight group believes that all of the following (and more) can be of help to various individuals and couples in various situations:

Accountability Groups
Couple to Couple Support
Lay Counselors
Lay Support Groups (12-step etc)
Licensed Counselors
Marriage Enrichment Courses
Message Boards
Pastoral Counselors
Prayer Ministries (Theophostic Prayer Ministry, Elijah House, etc.)
Professional Support Groups
Self Help Books

You will find various folks who swear by each of these - you will also find various folks who swear at each of them. Results vary, and neither the positive nor negative results of any one person should be taken as the final word about any method. Individual needs are different, and people will respond differently to different forms of intervention. What works is often related to the fit between the people involved.

There are many things to keep in mind when dealing with problems and healing of things of the mind. Because we can't see mental and emotional damage the way we can see physical damage, it's tempting to think that such damage is healed differently - in reality there is a great deal of similarity between physical and mental healing. If your broken leg has been set, do you expect to jump up and go jogging? It takes time for the healing to occur - likewise with emotional healing, it usually takes time.

Some injuries, both physical and emotional, leave life long limitations. Many such physical limitations can be overcome by surgery or significant physical therapy - likewise for emotional issues - how much you overcome will to some degree depend on how much time and effort you are willing to put in. Mental and emotional healing are also like physical therapy in that it is often uncomfortable (or downright painful) and requires us to change the way we are accustomed to doing certain things.

Don't be too quick to blame the "doctor" if you don't get the results you want. If you ignore your doctors advice, and your condition gets worse, is it your doctors fault? Likewise, don't blame the person or the method if you ignore the suggestions of those seeking to help you with emotional, marital, or sexual problems. You get out of it what you put into it!

Who one goes to for help will depend on how severe the problem is. If you have a minor cut you take care of it yourself, or get your spouse to do it. If it's a more serious cut you would not do it yourself, but would feel safe having a friend who is a nurse do it. More serious than that you head for the minor emergency clinic, and if it's life threatening and has damaged vital organs you want to be at a full hospital getting help from experts in their field. Likewise with emotional and mental damage - some things can be dealt with by a variety of folks, making cost and convenience important deciding factors, while other things require the best trained experts available, no matter what the cost or where you have to go. When dealing with things like imminent divorce, depression, and destructive behavior, don't start at the "bottom" and work up - go directly to someone who has the ability to save what is in danger.

Getting someone who has a lot of experience in what you need help with is important - you don't go to the worlds best dermatologist for brain surgery! Sometimes hands on experience is better than just book knowledge - a doctor in residency knows more about the human body and medicine than a midwife who has delivered hundreds of babies - but the midwife is probably a better choice for an uncomplicated delivery. In theory a psychologist can deal with most things mental and emotional (provided there are no medical/chemical issues), but if his or her field does not cover what you need help with, you will most likely find better help elsewhere.

It's important that the person you seek help from knows when to say "this is beyond my ability - you need to see someone else." Our experienced midwife is a disaster waiting to happen is she does not know when to say "you need a doctor right now!" Those who lack formal training and/or do not have supervision are far more likely to fail to realize they are in over their heads. There is no one who is equipped to deal with all situations; any helper who professes they can do it all is someone to avoid.

When it comes your mind, there are a few additional concerns that don't play as big a part in physical healing. A personality mismatch makes even the best counselor of little use - you need to be able to talk to, and trust the person you are dealing with. Additionally, when dealing with matters of the mind, going to someone who does not understand and support your Christian faith is a bad idea - don't put your mental health into the hands of someone who cannot actively support your faith.

Are we denying that God can miraculously heal? No we are not - He can and He does - but, for reasons no one can explain, He often does not. Does going to a doctor, or a counselor, show you don't have enough faith? We don't think so - consider Paul's instructions to Timothy in 1 Timothy 5:

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No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for your stomach's sake and your frequent infirmities. (NKJV)

We don't know what Timothy's infirmities were, but we do know that Paul did not tell him to go get prayer or chastise him for his lack of faith - instead Paul gave him "medical advice."

Finally, consider this bit of wisdom from the Lord -

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And I will send hornets before you, which shall drive out the Hivite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite from before you. I will not drive them out from before you in one year, lest the land become desolate and the beast of the field become too numerous for you. Little by little I will drive them out from before you, until you have increased, and you inherit the land. (Exodus 23:28-30 NKJV)

Healing of the mind is more than just driving out what does not belong - it also requires taking control of the mind. Those who try to rush to "drive out all of the enemy" often find themselves devoured by the wild animals that are then free to multiply. Rapid healing is good, but sustainable healing is better. Don't be so desperate that you skip important steps, or turn to those who will encourage you to skip important steps.

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