Ep. 440 When She’s Ashamed to Share Her Story with You

Ep. 13 Counseling Those Who Believe You Can't Share The Story

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Shows Main Idea – Sometimes, a person does not want to receive counseling because they are afraid to share their story. The complexity of shame, guilt, and fear incarcerate them. Though they know you can’t help them without knowing the truth about their lives, the inhibition effect is forbidding and captivating. To counsel well means you must know and do specific things, so how do you build that trust, so a person opens up to you?

Show Notes

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Creating Transparency

Typically, there are two things that all people have to know before they will open up to someone. We must address these two vital questions to create an environment of grace where a person is willing to be self-disclosing.

  • Can they trust you?
  • Are you able to help them?

This lady is unsure if she can trust the counselor and if he is competent enough to help her. It is worth our time to self-assess to determine if we can “handle her truth.” In my early counseling career, there were situations where I was not mature enough to steward well. So, I asked my counselor friend to self-assess.

  • Is her story too much for you to hear?
  • Not all people can handle all the truth.

There are many ways to mishandle someone’s truth. Here is a short list. As you think through these five, perhaps you can add more.

  • Self-righteous: You look down on her as though you’re better than her. Being annoyed with someone is an illustration of self-righteousness.
    • Be ready to share a few of your failures with her and how God changed you.
    • Let her know who the biggest sinner is in the room:
      • I killed Christ. Consequentially my sin may not be as bad as hers, but as far as corruption is concerned, any sin will put Christ on the tree.
    • I can offer her hope as she realizes I’m not much different from her. There are two ways to offer hope to a person:
      • God’s Word has an answer for what you’re going through.
      • I know this is true because this is what God has done for me.
  • Worry: You become overburdened by her story or over-care for her (1 Corinthians 3:6). God gives the increase, so rest in Him.
  • Anger: You take up an offense for her, which derails your care of her, while you join her in anger toward the offender.
  • Fear: You think you’re supposed to bring change rather than resting in the “Counselor,” the only one who can change anyone (2 Timothy 2:24-25).
  • Condemnation: You condemn her, which is more active than a self-righteous attitude; it is a vibrant, volitional, and harsh rejection of her.

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Pace Yourself

Discipleship for a situation like this is better in a church environment rather than a counseling environment:

  • There are no artificial timelines for change. Counseling is six, eight, or ten sessions—something like that. Church care is unlimited discipleship until the person meets Jesus.
  • You can slow down each meeting, relieving her and you from feeling pressured to speed things up and get things done.
  • You can build relational bridges for the future, the heavy truth you may have to communicate to her.
  • You can care for her in many contexts, not just the counseling office, e.g., coffee shops, church meetings, small groups, cookouts, shopping, etc.
  • She can get to know you in many “non-discipleship” contexts, which will put her at ease instead of thinking of you as the sterile, perfect, therapeutic, distant, “above-the-fray” counselor type, permitting you to model the things you’re teaching her in counseling.

The Church

If her problems have been horrendous, you will need more time and more people to help her, which is the beauty of the local church. As you know, if there is intimidation about seeing you, there will be even more fear about integrating into the community.

  • Do not press for communal integration too soon.
  • Envision a reciprocal community life for her future.
  • Remind her that she does not need to “tell all” to others. Self-disclosing in counseling does not imply self-disclosing everywhere.
  • She needs the care of others for the rest of her life, and she must be caring for others, too.

Direct Video Messages

Call to Action

  1. How do you assess yourself regarding your competency in helping a person change? If there is a growth opportunity for you, what is something you can do to mature in competency?
  2. Have you ever succumbed to self-righteousness, worry, anger, fear, or condemnation when thinking about others? If so, why did you cave? Is there something you need to do to change?
  3. Why is a church environment better in most situations than an exclusive counseling environment?
  4. I mentioned five reasons church soul care is better than counseling. Which ones stuck out to you? Why?
  5. Do you want to mature in caring for others? Will you consider our Mastermind Program?

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