How my Christian walk relates to my work as a counselor, how I interact with sexuality

Recently, I answered these interview questions for a college student’s Christian counseling class called Issues in Human Sexuality.

  1. How do you integrate your Biblically based beliefs into your counseling? My biblical (spiritual) beliefs drew me into this field as a calling, my own spiritual walk continues to shape how I grow and change as a therapist. Fundamentally, this leads me to consider the innate value of human life, and God’s plan and hope for men and women to grow more into who they were created to be.  I do not believe that God causes pain (trauma, disappointment, heartache, etc.—this is where I draw my own hope, for myself and my clients) but He does not waste it.  Oftentimes it is because of painful experiences that we are able to experience joy to the fullest, these painful experiences can allow us to experience something of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. My job as a therapist is to meet my clients where they are at and help them put words to what is standing in the way of them living as fully alive or whom they were created to be.  Given this, whether I offer bible verses or bible passages to a client in my office depends on their own journey or walk an individual.  I have found life, strength and hope in the Bible but for many of my clients, this may be a place of pain or deep heartache.  If I think Biblical principles would be helpful and this is one of my client’s goals, one of my objectives would be to help him/her come to a place of greater understanding of why barriers exist in this arena, this may enable the client to later come to the Scriptures or Christianity with hope of deeper openness and understanding.
  2. How has your beliefs affected your practice while counseling? Encountering complexities such as same sex marriage, attraction, blended families, divorce and separation all challenge my Christian worldview, primarily, my belief systems which I adopted growing up in a conservative Christian family. As I mentioned above, my own spiritual walk continues to shape how I grow and change as a therapist.  As I mentioned before, I feel I am called to assist my clients in becoming who God created him/her to be.  Often the root of deep heartache is in relationship, this creates barriers to becoming fully yourself.  My objective as a therapist is not to create more harm, shame or rules for a client, but to walk with them through these places of pain and help them find their own strength.
  3. Have you come across any sexual issues in your practice? Oftentimes, individuals or couples will talk about sexually abusive behaviors or lack of sexual enjoyment in the bedroom. When a client talks about sex, it is one of the most intimate and vulnerable topics to talk about, and likewise, it impacts him/her in this magnitude.  Usually dynamics in the bedroom are similar to relational dynamics already occurring, they may be more troubling (as they are so intimate and vulnerable) but they are additional pieces to address with curiosity.  When talking about sexuality, I am primarily paying attention to a client’s experience and their continued shame as a shame narrative around sexuality deeply affects a man or woman’s personhood.  Likewise with children, sexual abuse instills a lot of shame, working with a child around these memories/stories looks far different, children often act out in play what they can’t put into words and it is important for me then to speak a similar language, to pay attention to the symbols and the play which they are trying to use to communicate.
  4. How would you deal with issues of pornography? As an issue of addiction and infidelity.
  5. How would you deal with issues of infidelity in marriage? Infidelity is always an issues of loyalty. All partners in a marriage struggle with loyalty to their spouse to some extent. When doing marriage counseling of any kind, it is important to recognize the brokenness, lack of loyalty to each spouse has to exist on both sides of the marriage for the infidelity to occur.  Infidelity can take many different forms: Pornography, drug/alcohol addictions, lack of responsiveness to one’s spouse and addiction to caring for one’s own needs.
  6. How would you deal with Same-sex attraction? The same as I would deal with opposite sex attraction.
  7. How would you deal with marriage counseling? See #5, most marriages have some type of infidelity, taking different forms (video game addiction, extra time in the woodshop, unhealthy focus on work above the spouse’s needs, etc.) It is important not to vilify or align with only one spouse as both pay an equal role in the relationship, the marriage working or not working.
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