This article about counseling was written for my business network and previously posted on LinkedIn
A few months ago I was sitting with a friend on our balcony and we spoke about counseling. She asked me if it would be possible to counsel people who had a totally different believe system or religion. I said that I thought it would be hard and that I needed to think about it. She thought that it would be narrow-minded and excluding if you only would counsel people within your own worldview.
I couldn’t stop thinking about this question for quite some months, since a lot had happened in the year prior to this conversation.
Counseling: the essence
Counseling is designed to minister to our souls. It is a conversation where one party with questions, problems and trouble seeks assistance from someone they believe has answers, solutions and help. A counselor guides, advises and supports you to find answers to challenging life situations.
Counseling requires some vision of life. The way the counselor looks at life, the creation, the purpose of mankind, the existence of the soul and morality determines the way he or she counsels. The way you look at the major questions in life is rooted in your religion, theology or the absence thereof. It creates the foundation of counseling.
Counseling: the importance of a foundation
Everyone should build his or her life on a solid foundation. Without a strong and clear foundation you are not able to stand firmly when storms hit your life. Without clear insight in your core believes it’s hard to find the right direction when you lost your way in the turmoil of life. If you are struggling in your relationship, in your job or with your emotions, you always have to go back to your foundation: what does your worldview, your believe-system, your religion tell you to do? How should you deal with these challenges? A Buddhist will deal with life questions in a different way than an atheist, a non-believer, a universalist or a Christian.
Counseling: back to your foundation
My primary task as a counselor is to be rooted in a strong foundation and in love, so that I can stand firmly and with empathy next to you when your life is shaking. My second task as a counselor is to help you to find your foundation and to help you to (re)build your life on it. Step by step.
This means that in counseling sessions we will always have conversations about the most important thing in life: your foundation. We will go back to the core: who are you? We will talk about your world-view, your faith, your believe-system, your religion and your spirituality and how you build your life on that.
As a counselor I will always respect and love you, but I can’t guarantee that I agree with the way you look at the world. If you are (for example) a Buddhist or a Muslim I might not be able to advise you on how you exactly should walk your specific path in accordance to your faith, but I will help you to get more clarity, more insight in your life situation and help you to develop ways to move forward.
I’m always willing to share with you my experiences and to give examples of how I live my life based on my (Christian) foundation. And, just to be clear, being a professional counselor I will never try to convert you or to push my believes upon you :-)