Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Tips on Counseling Part 2

Protect yourself from legal and ethical dilemmas:

Keep a list of phone numbers for:

A. Suicide hotline – Different states have different guidelines

B. Abuse (for children and elderly) – find out the time limit to call, etc.

C. Domestic violence hotline (know where to call for shelters)

D. Aids Prevention

If the person you are seeing is going to harm someone else – in some states you must call the police and the person that might be harmed. In other states you can only call the police. Know your state’s policies.

Keep a written plan for each of the above. Keep the numbers and plans available to whoever is at the church taking messages.

Always document each part of your plan for the above mentioned as you carry it out. Write down the dates, times, who you called, what was said and then your next step.

Keep records of each person you see. It is good to keep simple records stating the person’s name, why they came in and briefly what was said. Example: A person is considering divorce. You give them pros and cons of a divorce, you show them scripture, but you don’t make their decision for them. Even if the person is being battered, their husband for example, is a homosexual, etc., don’t suggest that they get a divorce. Keep the information of what you said well documented for your own protection. Keep all records in a confidential place.

As a pastor, if you are not a licensed counselor, don’t call yourself professional, counselor, etc. Simply say that you will “minister” to their needs.

Don’t give advice outside of God’s word. Counseling is not advice. It is showing the alternatives and giving the counselee the keys to learn to cope and make his/her own decisions.

Don’t counsel anyone under 18 unless you have written permission from their parents.

Tips on Counseling Part 1

Protecting Your TIME

Learn the wisdom of referral. You need to know when something is beyond you – entails many sessions or is too involved. Examples are: any type of abuse,

Keep a list of Christian counselors, psychiatrists, etc. you can refer to.

To protect yourself limit your sessions to three. Not only is your time valuable but if the person needs more than three sessions he/she should be referred out..

Assign homework. If you are “working” on their situation by giving your time, they need to work also. This will sort out those who are just wanting to vent and not change. Tell them when they do the assigned work you will see them.

Examples of assignments:

Self-Esteem –Read Telling Yourself the Truth by Backus, write down your negative self-talk each day and then refute it, keep a journal of your devotional life, and give certain scripture passages to read. An alternative book might be Boundaries by McCloud.

Rejection – Read The Root of Rejection by Joyce Meyer. Possibly another book would be The Art of Forgiveness by Smedes. Write out behaviors that they want to change. Choose one of the behaviors to work on each day.

Sexual Addiction – Refer them to a Men’s group (at another church if you don’t have one). Have them read Every Man’s Battle by Arterburn or Pure Desire by Ted Roberts.

Divorce – Read Growing Through Divorce, work on some of the listed questions in the back of the book.

If the counselee doesn’t follow through on their assignment don’t see them again. If they aren’t willing to work on getting better, why should you? This way you weed out those who aren’t serious about changing from those who want to change. Your time is valuable.

Learn to validate – Validation is merely acknowledging verbally what you are hearing them say and what they appear to be feeling. You can “see their pain”. Sometimes you can simplify your life when you learn to truly validate after a person speaks of pain. That in itself can be a healer.

Example: I can see you have been through a lot of very difficult situations.

I can see you are experiencing great pain. I can’t even imagine how difficult it might be to go through something like that.