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March 28, 2015

The Art of Counseling (Part 2/2) by Renee Handtke

by Matt Ulrich

CounselingTrue Christian ministry will always center on grace flooding the heart so that lives are changed and problems are actively solved. One of the best ways to help people is NOT solving their problems for them, but pointing them in the right direction of God’s grace and truth. The individual we are trying to help may or may not have caused the problem, but if they relate to it the wrong way, they will most certainly make it worse. Life has a way of bringing out what’s really in us, and that is where the grace of God comes in.

In part two of this series, we want to look at solution-based counseling.

As mentioned in part one, many people solve their own problems by just talking it out and having someone listen and ask good questions. Our role as microchurch leaders is to help guide them through this process.

1. Have the Right Focus.  When we learn to look through the lens of solutions, the focus becomes clearer to see new possibilities for change and a hopeful way to move forward. A person will feel motivated and encouraged when he or she discovers the next step or action they can take to resolve a problem. We want to move them from the “blame game” to effective result-oriented solutions. One way to accomplish this is by looking at previous solutions that work before. You could ask, “What did you do before that was helpful?” This will open a new door of possible solutions that they may have forgotten and allow them to see through a fresh lens.

2. Increase What Works, Decrease What Doesn’t.  We want the person to recognize and realize how many times the problem is not occurring. By looking at what is working to help them with their problem, we can capitalize on their existing strengths. The emphasis is then taken off of rehearsing the problem over and over again, and placed on taking responsibility for change. This will help them feel empowered to make the necessary changes to increase what is working well. It’s a simple truth; constant negativity produces despair and hopelessness. We want to help them jump off that cycle and use the solutions that they have come up with to increase what works.

3. Set Specific Goals.  Just sitting around and talking about the problem will provide little benefit without helping the person come up with specific goals for change. These goals need to be realistic, achievable, and specific to the problem. Each goal needs to be determined by the person you are counseling, not you. If they “own it” they are more likely to work towards making it happen.

Specific goals are small, particular, detailed, and behavioral. The emphasis should be on what the person will be doing or thinking, instead of what they will not be doing or thinking.

When a person has clear defined goals, they are encouraged to take the first step in their journey towards the solution. Small baby steps go along way in this process. You can help them stay on track each time you meet or talk about their problem by referring back to the specific goals they have set.

As microchurch leaders, when we counsel others it will require us to focus our attention on being lead by the Holy Spirit and abiding in the Lord and what His Word reveals. We certainly need His guidance to help us when we give advice or counsel others. As we grow in the knowledge of God’s grace, we can better distribute that to others we are trying to help.

By Renee Handtke

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