Blog – Christian Counseling
By Guy Ascherman, MA, LMFT, LPCC, Life Coach
Why Christian Counseling – Part 7 of 10
So many people are suffering from family pain, past and present. Without a different perspective, that pain may continue into the future. Without direction and change, we normally continue doing what we have always done, but expect different results – what someone has defined as insanity. Our society seems intent on doing more and more of what has contributed to our family problems in an attempt to heal our homes – the opposite of what we need. If we want healthy results, we need to rethink our family structure.
Attempts to resurrect some of the successful family traditions that worked for previous generations gets shouted down and demonized by a more progressive view that continues to produce undesirable results. Our concern is not about winning a philosophical, psychological, or political argument. We are concerned about avoiding the pain that broken families can experience because of a progressive approach that isn’t very effective.
Any attempt to define the traditional family is resisted by many who insist that nothing can be defined! It reflects our postmodern era of no boundaries, no absolutes. Absolute truth is rejected. A Christian family will typically enter family therapy exhibiting conflict with a Biblical understanding contrasted with modern cultural influences. Christian families find themselves battling with a cultural war that leaves the family unit in confusion. They are often shamed by our progressive society for holding traditional views. But not all change is good change. Change can be detrimental.
Salvador Minuchin and Jay Haley are known for developing Structural Family Therapy prior to post-modern thinking. They attempted to examine roles and rules in the home before roles and rules became politically incorrect. Minuchin and Haley practiced joining or entering a given family system to understand the unspoken or invisible “rules” which disrupt relationships within the family, and stabilize and develop healthier patterns. They believed that “pathology” rests, not with the individual, but within the family system. It is unfortunate that their system of family therapy is not utilized more today. A family operates best with a given and accepted system. Every organizational system requires structure. Certainly the family is no exception. Cultural pressures that oppose familial structure are leaving the modern family in confusion and without direction.
God created the family with a structure that helps it operate. Rejecting God’s plan is proving to be a disaster. God’s plan is not hard to understand but it requires selfless family participants to be mutually yielded to the Lord and roles He has assigned to the family members. The therapy room is often a yelling and screaming match, fighting over structure and control! That doesn’t work anywhere in the known universe in any kind of system, workplace, or social order. Why would people think it would hold a family together? The Christian therapist and client want to follow God’s plan for their home, while fighting the influences of the world and their own selfish desires.
Christian counselors are to observe the structure of a family system, point out areas of confusion and power struggles, and work toward problem solving and realigning of unhealthy alliances and subsets in the home. The parental dyad and the parent-child dyad need to be defined, reinforce, and respected. Then the entire family unit has the responsibility of holding to the given structure of the family, and to also support the other family members in their God given roles. Power struggles must be resolved! God is the authority.
Ephesians 5:18-6:4 teaches mutual submission to the will of God, in the Spirit of God, by all family members. This is God’s plan. It is not difficult to understand. But it does require humility.