Grace For Healing
God wants you well

Today’s post explains why person-centred counselling is a conducive environment for any individual on a healing journey.

I would like to show today, why we can view the person-centred counselling approach through a Christian lens.

Originated by Carl Rogers, counsellors use this theory all over the globe and for good reason. People start to become who God created them to be.

We’ll explore how, while a child is planned by God, the person they eventually become may not align with God’s original intentions and how, through the person-centred counselling approach, the person begins to heal and align with who God created him to be.

When Jesus ministered, He did so as though the individual was the only person in the world. Jesus was person-centred. He sees the individual.

 

WHAT IS PERSON-CENTERED COUNSELLING?

 

So let’s start from the beginning.

When a baby is born, he is born into an environment, a culture, a society and more importantly, to parents who carry and impart their beliefs, values, conditions and so on onto the child. 

The child receives messages from this external environment and adapts his thinking and behaviour to feel safe and accepted. 

His personal growth is stunted and he begins to lack autonomy. It’s more important for him to feel a sense of belonging and security, than be authentic.

The real authentic child (sometimes known as the organismic self) ‘disappears’ and a new adapted version is born. 

This early wiring becomes ingrained in the child’s brain that he identifies with the person he has become. His self-concept is faulty. 

This wiring continues through adult life. How he lives his life, his thoughts, behaviour, relationship with others are now misconstrued.

As I say so many times in this blog, when God heals us, he heals us back to the person he saw when he laid the foundation of the world. 

 

GOD HEALS US BACK TO OUR AUTHENTIC SELVES

 

He heals us back to authenticity. So we’re all on healing journeys in my opinion. 

I love person-centred counselling as it offers the client an opportunity to heal from such childhood messages and faulty wiring. 

The client may present with a present-day issue. Still, by exploring this and seeing the client holistically, the counsellor may support the person to recognise any conditions of worth and trauma imprints developed in childhood. 

“If I am well behaved, I’ll be accepted” “I must be strong and not cry, then I won’t get into trouble” “I need to stay small and quiet, then mum and dad will approve of me”

Or perhaps, “I am shy and quiet….People are better than me…”

See 12 SELF-LIMITING BELIEFS HINDERING OUR HEALING

These messages are so unconscious, the client probably doesn’t even know he has them. Or perhaps he thinks ‘this is who I am’

Christ didn’t just die for our sins. He died for our healing and freedom. He went to a lot of trouble for you and I to break free from the pattern of this world’s thinking and become who he designed us to be.

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Rom 12:2

The reality is, we are conformed from the minute we’re born.

Through person-centred counselling, the client and I may explore the individual’s relationship with parental figures growing up Were they critical and domineering? Did they value affection or play? How did they show their emotions?

Through this the client realises any external voices or valuing systems he may be adopting (introjected values) which are overpowering his real self. 

For example, he may unconsciously need to adhere to external voices to feel safe in the world (we call this external locus of evaluation) but this is incongruent with his true organismic self. In other words, there is inner conflict. 

We live in a fallen world and people are managing as best they can with their limited resources so it’s never about blame. 

But as a Christian, I can see how the enemy has robbed us from being the person God created us to be. 

 

GOD’S RESTORATION

 

I love that through person-centred counselling, God begins to restore what was stolen. The process creates the environment that offsets any damage from our upbringings and the world around us. 

As self-awareness develops, the client has a choice whether to continue listening to such voices or to begin to allow his real suppressed self a voice. 

I love that the client begins to flourish and change quite organically. 

This is God restoring us back to who we really are.

For I will restore health to you And heal you of your wounds,’ says the LORD,

Her 30:17

The real authentic person, sometimes referred to as the organismic self or real self, starts to emerge as he starts to take responsibility for his place in the world. 

Think of a flower in the bud, then gradually it starts to bloom. 

This happens mainly through the 3 core conditions of person-centred counselling, that counsellors provide for their clients. This environment is conducive to healing and change. 

 

THE 3 CORE CONDITIONS

 

Person-centred counselling works when counsellors create the optimal conditions for transformation. 

We provide the right environment for the person to access and trust their internal guidance/wisdom (which God has given each of us) and develop autonomy and self-acceptance.

This causes the person to prosper. 

Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.

3 John 1:2

EMPATHY

 

Perhaps you believe you don’t need empathy, or maybe you’re mourning the fact that no one in your life has ever shown much empathy for you.

Either way, the chances are, you will have encountered hurt from others, often caused by the lack of empathy.

The hurtful words spoken over you, the judgement that made you think you were rubbish, the fear of criticism that kept you small.

Some people are so preoccupied with their own lives, that they can be oblivious to the pain of others.

We live in such a fast-paced and busy world that taking the time to listen with empathy is often neglected in many relationships, creating a distance, even in marriages

It is common to view people through the lens of our own lives, experiences, beliefs and assumptions. We have a fixed view of suffering and who we’re going to feel compassion for. 

This is incredibly isolating and wounding for the individual. It reinforces trauma from the past and creates an unsafe environment that breeds shame and insecurities.

If a client is surrounded by a lack of empathy, whether in childhood, past relationships or present day, there are negative consequences to his personal growth.

Jesus had empathy for the woman at the well (John 4: 4-42), the widow at Nain (Luke 7: 11-17) and the demon-possessed man (Mark 5:1 – 20).

He had never experienced the situations that these individuals were facing, yet He felt their pain.

The person-centred counselling approach offers you the skill of empathy. This is where we enter into the client’s world and put ourselves in their shoes.

We model who Jesus is.

We communicate to them that we ‘get it’ and attune to them emotionally. 

“Empathy is getting down in the dark place with someone who is suffering and showing them that they are not alone. You don’t need to provide a solution or answers. Your presence is enough in the moment.” Caroline Leaf

 

THE BENEFITS OF EMPATHY

 

1. EMPOWERMENT

 

Empathy says “I am with you in your situation, you are not alone” It becomes a shared experience, an attunement, a feeling of togetherness in the situation.

One of the greatest and saddest realities of our time is loneliness. Not being understood is an incredibly lonely experience.

A strengthening takes place when we know we’re not alone in our suffering. The burden is shared and it feels easier to carry and we become empowered to face the pain.

We’re not meant to face any situation on our own.

Two are better than one, Because they have a good reward for their labor.

Eccl 4:9

God is Emmanuel, God with us. He is with us when we go through tough times and promises never to leave us. (Heb 13:5)

This is different to the omnipotent ‘God is with us’. It speaks of intimacy, reserved for his children and available to each of us. Even if the client doesn’t know God, they receive from the God in the Christian counsellors as we allow Him to use us in this way. 

 

2. FEELING SEEN AND HEARD

 

When we are seen and heard we feel valuable. The truth that you are precious just as you are replaces the core belief of “I am insignificant” or “I am only significant when I achieve something”

The feeling of insignificance drives a lot of what we do. We want the right people to notice us so we feel good enough or we compare ourselves and our achievements to others, always falling short.

This causes us to strive to be seen – controlling people’s perceptions of us, manipulating others, people-pleasing, perfectionism….

We become image-conscious. The person we present to the world becomes more important than who we are.

Through person-centred counselling and the counsellor’s empathy, the client’s thoughts and feelings are validated and he feels important.

Person-centred counsellingIMAGE: CREDIT

The client begins to recognise that any feeling of insignificance is a historic reaction to something he didn’t have the cognition to understand when he was a child.

The striving to be seen by others decreases when we know someone is on our side. By using the person-centred counselling approach, my prayer is that I can be that ’empathic person’ that the person may have never known before.

The sad reality, is that some people have no-one to really listen to them.

God is our creator and knows us better than we know ourselves. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you;” Jer 1:5 It’s God’s heart that we know our unique place in the world and that we are significant.

 

BENEFITS OF UNCONDITIONAL POSITIVE REGARD

 

We’ve all been on the receiving end of someone who critiques and judges us. It’s not a nice feeling is it? I wonder if you can relate to Job when his so-called friends judged him, saying Job brought about his own troubles through sin.

See JOB’S THREE FRIENDS. 5 WAYS TO DEAL THEM

It’s bad enough suffering, without other people (who have never walked your path) blaming and condemning you.

Oftentimes as people know that God is perfect and all-powerful, they conclude that if you’ve yet to receive a breakthrough, it must be down to you

This is an Old Testament mindset

It’s a superior ‘I told you so’ type of thinking, or an “I would never do that” mindset.

We may all have a Critical Parent Ego inside us, but some people live there. They think they must correct, find fault and see themselves as better. This keeps them safe but damages the other.

It’s a form of self-righteousness.

You can see that a child growing up in an environment with a parent or parents like this would grow up either the same or feeling ‘small and inferior’.

The child internalises this voice and develops an over-powering inner critic. They may even grow to hate and reject themselves.

This type of environment is unsafe and stunts our growth.

So by using Person-Centred counselling, the counsellor adopts an Unconditional Positive Regard for the client. They don’t judge or critique, accepting the individual as someone worthy of love and respect.

This then offsets any damage done by past relationships.

 

1. FEELING LOVED AND HONOURED

 

The client learns that some people in the world are kind and accepting. They hear the message “I accept and love you as you are”

Self-esteem starts to increase as those “I’m insignificant” type thoughts start to go and new neuropathways in the brain take over.

Striving ceases.

When we receive acceptance from someone else, we can internalise the experience and begin to accept ourselves. I do hope that clients feel respected and honoured; this is how God wants us to treat each other.

person centred counselling

IMAGE: CREDIT

2. FREEDOM

 

The person is now free to be themselves with no fear of condemnation or judgement.

People are only authentic when it’s safe to be so.

Performing behaviours like People-pleasing, perfectionism and image consciousness start to heal as the individual begins to have the confidence to voice opinion, take space in the world, own up to mistakes and be real.

The message they hear from the counsellor is “I won’t judge or criticise anything you say…it’s ok to be you…it’s ok to make mistakes…you are worthy…

Shame starts to go.

This is the message that God gives us through His Word: we are accepted as we are.

 

3. GROWTH

 

Those who judge and criticise keep us small. It’s difficult to speak up, fearing conflict or judgement. We keep our opinions to ourselves and shrink back.

We stay trapped in the persona of “I am who I think I need to be”

Keeping quiet can breed shame and low self-worth. Or the opposite. We can become overly defensive.

During the counselling process, the client has an opportunity to share secrets and burdens he may have never shared before.

The revelation of unconditional acceptance causes the ‘real’ client to emerge. Self-acceptance and self-compassion begin to develop as the client internalises these qualities for himself.

See THE LORD LOOKS AT THE HEART. OWN YOUR TRUTH

 

CONGRUENCE

 

This means being genuine. It’s not quite the same as authenticity as being congruent in a counselling setting has to be beneficial for the client.

In childhood, the child adopts conditions of worth, a value and belief system that are not his own. This means his true self is lying dormant.

There is a gap between who we authentically are (the organismic self) and the person we present to the world.

Surrounding ourselves by inauthentic people reinforces our own masks, learned behaviours and trauma responses.

See LESSONS FROM THE STORY OF NAAMAN. CHECK YOUR EGO

Through person-centred counselling, the counsellor provides a congruent environment to offset any false sense of self the client is operating out of (often unconsciously)

If the counsellor has gone on their own healing self-awareness journey, then they will be able to offer this to the client making it far more likely that the person will permit themselves to be authentic. 

The person-centred counsellor is not the expert – the client is.

 

BENEFITS OF CONGRUENCE

 

1. ESTABLISHES TRUST

 

The client won’t trust someone who lacks integrity and is just people-pleasing, being ‘nice’ or hiding behind some kind of false ‘I’m the expert’ type facade.

The client hears the message ” I give you the real me”

I don’t know about you, but I always feel honoured when someone feels they can be themselves with me.

Jesus always valued integrity. If you recall the story of the Syro-Phoenician woman who came to Jesus with pretence, Jesus ignored her until she approached Him as her true self. Mark 7

See 5 TRUTHS FROM JESUS AND A SYROPHOENICIAN WOMAN

 

2. AUTHENTICITY

 

The client begins to remove their learned behaviours and masks. The message they hear from the counsellor is “It’s ok to be the real you”

Often we present a false front to the world; we learn to speak from our heads, and ignore what’s really in our hearts. This is a lack of integrity.

We squash down our truth in favour of the person we think we need to be.  This brings safety to us as children but goes against God’s design.

See HOW TO DEAL WITH SHAME

If the counsellor models congruence, it invites the recipient to be themselves free from masks and learned behaviours.

This encourages people to grow in self-honour and security which is empowering.

 

3. GROWTH

 

Perhaps the individual has spent his whole life looking to others to find out who he is. They influence everything about him from the moment he’s born. They’ve switched off their internal wisdom and intuition.

As a child, they learn a script, a program that they stick to and have no idea how to make their own decisions and take ownership.

They’ve learned to rely on others to make decisions for them and not take ownership. They go through life wearing masks to keep themselves safe.

So much so that they now have an identity composed of external voices and false fronts. The scary thing is, it’s unconscious.

Through Person-Centred counselling, individual’s soul begins to flourish as the real person starts to take up space.

Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.

3 John 1:2

This is the essence of God’s healing in my opinion. He heals the parts of us we don’t recognise need healing because it’s our familiar behaviour. He heals us back to who we really are.

 

 

GOD: THREE IN ONE

 

What I love about the person-centred approach is that it really does sandwich the individual in the centre of God’s love. God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

This consequently points them to Jesus. They see Him as attractive – the most empathic and gracious being they just can’t help but fall in love with.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

2 Cor 1:4

This is the person we model!

 

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathise with our weaknesses… Heb 4:15 (Jesus)

I will not leave you as orphans; …..But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.

John 14:18. 26 – 27

How can the person not transform when he is right on the receiving end of the Holy Trinity, creating an optimal environment for healing and personal growth?

When I think of the people God has put in my life, not counsellors, but Godly friends. I see God’s presence in them shining brightly through any darkness I may be dealing with. The 3 Core Conditions are not what they do, but who they are.

Their support makes Jesus look good. He is my empathic witness, my friend, my ally in times of trouble Is 41:10 Matt 1:23. Counsellors can’t eliminate people’s suffering, but we can make it more bearable.

 

 

In categories: MindBody Connection, The Healing Journey