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10 Decisions before going to a counselor

Life is complex and often we may need help navigating it. A spiritual coach can be a big help. And at times we may need a professional counselor as well. But in order to grow, we need to make some basic decisions beforehand. I got the following list from counselors Kit and Tricia McDermott. &…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes
Life is complex and often we may need help navigating it. A spiritual coach can be a big help. And at times we may need a professional counselor as well. But in order to grow, we need to make some basic decisions beforehand. I got the following list from counselors Kit and Tricia McDermott.
1. THE DECISION TO BE WELL: While Christian counseling and healing ultimately depends the movement of the Holy Spirit, it is also   true that you have a crucial part to play in the process. You must commit to doing what it takes to heal and get well. Even if if  you have little idea what they might look like or entail in the process, you must choose this perspective. It opens you to trusting God. If your  will is not decidedly in the effort, no matter how skilled or diligent  the  counselor, you will only go as far as you decide.

2. THE DECISION TO FACE PAIN: In the  course of getting well you  have to decide that you will face the pain  necessary to heal.  If you want to avoid the pain, you will only waste  your time and that of the counselor.  There will be struggles to face in  the forms of grief,  anger, guilt and shame, but you will not face them  alone .  Jesus will  walk with you as will we.  Exposing the pain begins  the healing  process. Walking through suffering with Christ leads to the  treasures  of faith, hope and maturity. (Romans 5:1-5; James 1:2-4; 1  Peter  1:6-7)
 3. THE DECISION TO FACE A FEAR:  Along with facing pain, you will  also have to face what you are afraid  of.  It could be hidden sin that  makes you ashamed.  It could be the  fear of going through trauma  again.  Maybe you are afraid of being  abandoned and rejected.  It could  be the fear of facing the responsibility of being well.  Whatever the  source of the fear, it has  to be faced so that it is not the LORD of  your life, but Jesus is.  Fear  cripples; facing it in Christ’s presence  leads to freedom.  (Psalm  27:1, 56:3; Isaiah 41:10; Mark 5:36; John  14:27; Hebrews 13:6; 1 John 4:18)

 4. THE DECISION TO GIVE TIME:  Emotional or spiritual healing for  most does not happen overnight. There are no quick fixes or magic  bullets.  You must have patience and  perseverance to allow the Holy Spirit time to heal you as He chooses. He will not force progress faster  than you are willing to embrace.  Settle in your heart the commitment  to take whatever time is necessary  to let the LORD free you from what  binds and afflicts .  (Psalm 40:1-4)

 5. THE DECISION TO WORK: Counseling  and healing are hard work.   You must decide to work at the process of  getting well, otherwise you  will depend on others to do it for you. That means doing homework  assigned to you or any other task the counselor gives to help you heal  or change. Passivity hamstrings the process. Lip service nullifies  authentic effort. No  one is going to fix your life for you.  You must  choose to make the  effort to do what the LORD asks of you to heal.   (Philippians 2:12-13)

 6. THE DECISION NOT TO BLAME OTHERS:  It is a chronic sin of men  and women to blame others for their  problems, and failures.  But to do  so is often to hide behind a smokescreen and not take responsibility for  one’s growth and maturity.  Exposing sin, your own and that of others  against you, is a decision to  live in the truth.  Refusing to make  other people responsible for the  choices we make honors God’s call on  us to ” live as children of light.”  (Ephesians 5:8)

 7. THE DECISION TO TRUST: Underlying  the decision to get well is  the decision to trust God as you work  through your problems.  This  Psalmist tells us that the “LORD’s  unfailing love surrounds the man or  woman who trusts in him,” (Psalm 32:10) and Isaiah tells us that “the  one who trusts in Him will never be  put to shame.” (Isaiah 28:16)  dealing with deep-seated addictions,  traumas and pain requires that  your trust in God be grounded in the  belief that He passionately loves  you, and will see you through the  struggles to be healed. In turn, you  also have to trust that we your  counselors have your best interests in  Christ.

 8. THE DECISION TO EMBRACE THE TRUTH:  Implied in all of this is  the decision to live in the truth at all  costs.  Through the healing  process, Jesus tells us that knowing the  truth will set us free.  (John  8:32) The LORD ” delights in men who are  truthful,” (Proverbs 12:22)  and He ” desires truth in the inner parts.”  (Psalm 51:6) The decision  to get well is the choice to know the truth about God, about yourself,  and about others.  You must decide to let the  Holy Spirit lead you into  the truth so that lies, illusions, fantasies,  and deceits can be  brought to light, and their influence neutralized.

 9. THE DECISION TO FORGIVE: In order  to be healed and live the  kind of life God has for you, He wants you to  decide to forgive those  who have hurt, abused, betrayed, abandoned,  offended and violated you.   Obviously, this can only be done by His grace, but you must choose to  cooperate with the Holy Spirit in  forgiving. It is essential to your  getting better.  Even if you can  only pray for the willingness to  forgive, you have to decide to move in  that direction (Matthew 6:14,  18:21; Colossians 3:13; Ephesians 4:32) To  forgive is to free yourself from the effects of the sin against you,  and to not condemn the persons  who harmed you.

 10. THE DECISION TO LIVE A NEW LIFE:  It takes courage to live  without old hurts and fears to hide behind.   You need to decide to  discover what it means to live as one of God’s  treasured Beloved  despite your brokenness.


Comments (10)

  • Thanks Seth.

    Based on my experience there are three other vital “decisions”:

    1. The decision to leave behind the pretending fake “God” people.

    2. The willingness to acknowledge personal guilt & demand others do the same.

    3. The commitment to serve–always.

    The great thing about Jesus is He rarely has a second demand…

  • As a counselor I whole-heartedly agree. So many times people think they are ready and then when it comes to facing pain or extending forgiveness or any of the other 8 things listed…it becomes to hard and they walk away or put back on the facade they have been wearing. This would be a great tool to use in the beginning sessions of therapy.

  • I agree. It is easier to counsel when the person comes already broken before the Lord and willing to do whatever is necessary.

  • Thank you for posting this Seth. God just absolutely led in my life through reading this. I am sitting here crying. Thank You!!! I will print this off so that I can keep a copy!

  • Wow, Seth. Way to turn that around. Counselors aren’t wand-wavers. Lots of people go hoping to get “fixed,” more like an auto shop than a dedication of time, emotional energy, and courage. To facilitate this personal healing means a whole host of manifestations of personal responsibility. Thanks – I’m saving this one, too.

  • For centuries (before professional counseling emerged) Christianity has provided this simple foundation:

    Problem: when you sin, you hurt yourself and others.
    Remedy: repent.

    Problem: when others sin against you.
    Remedy: forgive.

    Over simplified? Perhaps. But in counseling people over the years, a vast majority of what I’ve faced and heard about people’s problems usually comes back to these same two issues, and it’s amazing how hard it is for us just to simply say, “I was wrong” and “I forgive you.”

  • Wow. This was a gift. I’ve been seeking the Lord for direction in a path to healing. He’s been giving me glimpses of where to step forward. But this, was an answered prayer. Thanks for sharing.

  • Thanks for sharing… sooo good. These were decisions I definitely had not made last time I tried counseling and walked away.

    now do you have the 10 steps to finding a trusted counselor? 🙂

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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