What Is Wise Counsel and Good Therapy?
Dear Selfless Esteem,
Lately I’ve been disgruntled seeing therapists put on pedestals when they’ve given unwise guidance. I believe the Bible is the Ultimate Truth & authority over any degree.
I have gone to Christian therapists, who have guided me against what the Bible says. I have friends who think the degree gives therapists the ultimate source of wisdom with life and relationships. I see them as humans who come with their own life experiences and perspectives as well. How does one decipher wise counsel?
Dear Therapist Trouble,
Thanks for bringing up such an important topic. Many of my posts suggest seeing a “competent” therapist because having an incompetent therapist is counterproductive. But how can someone decipher if a therapist is competent and giving wise counsel? 🤔
You’re correct; just because therapists have degrees does not mean they are the “ultimate source of wisdom.” And I agree that they should not be put on pedestals (nor should any fallible human being). To answer your question, let’s look at what wise counsel is and what good therapy looks like.
Only God is all wise (Romans 11:33). God knows each of us more than we know ourselves (Luke 12:7); therefore, He knows exactly what steps to take as well as the right timing. Furthermore, Jesus is called “Counselor” (Isaiah 9:6), and the Holy Spirit is referred to as a counselor (John 14:26 MEV).
God promises, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye” (Psalm 32:8). When we ask God for wisdom, He gives it “liberally and without reproach” (James 1:5).
Thus, therapists are not in the expert position. They are supposed to work collaboratively with their clients by helping them explore their options while paying attention to how God may be opening and closing doors of opportunity.
The Client as the Expert
The client is more knowledgeable than the therapist about how their upbringing, culture, personality, and experiences have influenced their thoughts and behavior. The therapist provides the means for the client to stop and contemplate new thought patterns and change any dysfunctional ones. As a result, the client can make better choices and use more effective coping skills and communication skills.
A Competent Therapist
As you stated, therapists have their own life experiences and perspectives. When this affects their work, it’s called countertransference. Competent therapists maintain awareness of any countertransference and keep the focus of the session on what benefits the client. They don’t seek their own gratification, subconsciously treat the client as a figure from their past, or try to persuade the client to agree with them on any issues.
Therapy as a Road to Healing
Therapy should provide a confidential outlet to express thoughts and feelings about painful life experiences and current stressors. For example, many people need to heal from real and/or perceived rejection. A good therapeutic relationship promotes healing and helps the client love themselves unconditionally. You may also be interested in the post, “Why You Need a Therapist ASAP.”
Including God in the Process
Most of all, God’s unconditional, everlasting love is a source of healing. Romans 8:38-39 says, “Neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” For more information on God’s love, see the posts, “Why Selfless Esteem Is Better Than Self-Esteem,” “The Real Truth About God,” and “How To Pray in 5 Simple Steps.”
In summary, having a degree and skills doesn’t make the therapist an omniscient expert. The therapist is mainly a facilitator of the client’s journey toward growth. Seeking God is an essential part of the process because He is the ultimate source of wisdom and healing. 🙏
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New King James Version®. Copyright © 1984 by Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
If you’ve found this blog interesting, please share it on social media. And be sure to subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest content.
Click here to ask a question about a life stressor you are facing. Your question and Selfless Esteem’s answer could be featured in a blog.