by Frances Tibayan
Maybe you’ve sat in on a few counseling sessions. Perhaps you’ve watched biblical counseling videos but have yet to officially counsel someone. You wouldn’t dare. Most of us never feel ready to counsel. It’s a daunting task to put yourself out there while still feeling like an amateur. Yet the feeling of wanting to help doesn’t subside. Be encouraged. The Spirit lives in you and the Scriptures are what you speak (Rom 8:11; Eph 4:15). You don’t have to come up with anything original. All the wisdom you need and speak is God breathed (2 Tim 3:16). Here are five ways to gain confidence as you begin: ask if you may observe a counseling session, collect good questions, connect it back to God, leave them with hope, and give them the gospel.
As your heart grows for your church family, ask your church leaders or counselors if you may sit in as they counsel others. Not to add but to soak up. Take lots of notes, think and write of questions you’d ask. Try applying your biblical knowledge to the situation. Ask if you can debrief with the counselors for a few minutes.
Many counselors emphasize good questions. As you’re beginning, you might feel you don’t know what a good, moderate or bad question is. Even so, begin with questions and see where it takes you, especially in the first few sessions. The information you get from questions will begin to reveal a sore spot, something the Lord is revealing. Remember not to go in thinking you know all the answers. Instead, be a curious listener.
God’s Word needs to be the center of what is right and wrong. As your sister shares her grievances, always connect it back to the Lord by asking a revealing question like: What do you think the Lord has to say about that? Or where do you think God is in this situation?
Counseling is not only about finding the right verse at the right time, it’s helping them connect God to their trial. Counseling applies the goodness of the word of God to their specific situation (2 Tim 3:16-17).
After a 60-90 minute session, words of encouragement will breathe life into your friend. Ending with evidences of grace provides glimpses of hope. Ask them to identify evidences of grace. Follow that with ways you see the goodness of God’s sovereign hand. It’s hard to see through the fog when you feel beat up, let down, or alone.
The gospel that God is for us in Christ is not just for new believers. We all benefit from hearing and rehearing our redemption story. We need to have people apply the gospel to us on a daily basis. The gospel we heard in the past breeds confidence for future challenges. God has not left us and promises he will not! Take them back to that faithful covenant that was made through Jesus Christ (Jer 31:31-34; Luke 22:20).
Sitting in on a session provides you with a clear structure so you won’t just shoot in the dark. Collecting good questions will help guide the conversation towards helpful healing. Constantly look for ways to connect it to the Lord so they have real hope. Remind them of the gospel so they taste the Lord’s goodness. The Lord will use you as you counsel people toward him.