Agape Christian Counselling, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
© George Hartwell M.Sc. 4/23/2006 all rights reserved
God asks counsellors to listen: to listen to the person sharing their life with you and to listen to God. (Visualize the cross: horizontal and vertical to God.)
Love listens. In empathic listening, you open your heart to the other. Do this in obedience to Christ's command to "love one another." Listening from the heart is a ministry of love. It requires energy and willingness on your part. People will experience love (and develop trust) when you open your heart to them to listen to them.
The action is almost unconscious; almost without words; heart to heart; being to being. The action is deep: that which is deep within you attuning to what is deep within the other. The capacity to do this depends more on the love you received as a child than on training. It is a function of the mature human spirit. (See Core Issues.)
Ultimately it is a gift of God. It is God's Spirit within all of creation that allows us to communicate with understanding of one another. God gives us the gift of language and sustains communication of meaning. God's Spirit allows on to hear and understand the burdens on the heart of another - of we willingly listen.
Listening from the heart is also a form of prayer. When you listen from the heart, your heart attunes to the heart of the other. You feel with the person. Your spirit, by the process of empathy, picks up the pain in the spirit of the other. Like a sponge, you begin to absorb the emotional pain in these burdens. You bear another's pain, confusion, sin and trauma. You become a burden bearer - an intercessor. (Galatians 6:2)
The fact that people who listen lovingly to other's issues, concerns and heartaches are in the position of being intercessors (burden bearers) can be good. It is an opportunity for the burdens to be lifted in prayer. People may experience burdens being lifted when you pray for them. God's healing touch brings long-term, even eternal, benefits. Think long term and pray.
However, it can also be bad. The fact that people who listen lovingly to other's issues, concerns and heartaches are in the position of being intercessors (burden bearers) can result in one becoming unhealthily burdened - one's spirit defiled - by the other's spirit.
Counseling done without prayer leaves you with extra pain in your heart and burdens on your spirit. (That helps explain why Psychiatrists have high suicide rates.)
Note: The use of prayer of invocation and the emphasis in letting God be the Healer differentiates Life Transformation Therapy from other forms of professional counselling and secular based forms of Pastoral Counselling.
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