Top Two Counseling Issues

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Hamalas

whippersnapper
For my counseling class at seminary, we're supposed to select two counseling issues (depression, homosexuality, addiction, etc...) to research and write about for our final paper.

My question (particularly for you Pastors and elders) is: what are the two most common issues you have to address in your shepherding/counseling work?
 

Andrew35

Puritan Board Sophomore
As a high school teacher, I regularly discuss anxiety and loneliness issues with my students. Seems to get worse every year. And the pandemic... really hasn't helped.
 
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KSon

Puritan Board Junior
#1 Marriage
What specifically in the marriage?
  1. Often times it's the dreaded "e" word (expectations). Godless expectations often yield godless responses.
  2. Parenting perspectives/approaches.
  3. The stress that comes from one spouse growing much more rapidly in the Lord than the other. Jealousy and (even) sabotage sometimes occurs.
#2 Discouragement
People are tired and weary. The COVID season has added an isolation element and the stress of operating outside of the "norm" for most folks. There is concern about the direction of the nation. I see a lot of discouragement in our older body members, even pre-COVID. Much of it is an "identity" issue. By that, I mean that they were used to doing "X", so much so that their Christian life became known for doing "X". Then the issue arises that they can no longer do "X" because of the circumstances associated with aging, and they feel useless in their walk.
 

Chad Hutson

Puritan Board Freshman
#1 Marriage
What specifically in the marriage?
  1. Often times it's the dreaded "e" word (expectations). Godless expectations often yield godless responses.
  2. Parenting perspectives/approaches.
  3. The stress that comes from one spouse growing much more rapidly in the Lord than the other. Jealousy and (even) sabotage sometimes occurs.
#2 Discouragement
People are tired and weary. The COVID season has added an isolation element and the stress of operating outside of the "norm" for most folks. There is concern about the direction of the nation. I see a lot of discouragement in our older body members, even pre-COVID. Much of it is an "identity" issue. By that, I mean that they were used to doing "X", so much so that their Christian life became known for doing "X". Then the issue arises that they can no longer do "X" because of the circumstances associated with aging, and they feel useless in their walk.
Worldliness which leads to wrong expectations of the other partner.
Unwillingness to model Christian virtue in marital roles.
 

KSon

Puritan Board Junior
Worldliness which leads to wrong expectations of the other partner.
Unwillingness to model Christian virtue in marital roles.
I think your response is summed up in my word "godless". Expectations unattached to God's expectations of us. Responses, when those expectations are not met, that do not reflect God's desired response. Worldliness is certainly a subcategory of that. More often than not, they are self-idolatrous expectations mixed with an unwillingness to die to one's self (which is essential in marriage).
 

C. M. Sheffield

Puritan Board Senior
Marriage counseling with wives:
Wife: "I want to submit to my husband"
Me: "Good. What's the problem?"
Wife: "He needs to show me that he loves me by agreeing with me on what I think is best before I can do that."
Me: "Hmm..."

Marriage counseling with husbands:
Husband: "I'm very loving to my wife."
Me: "Okay, well, your wife doesn't seem to think so."
Husband: "Well, she just doesn't understand that a man needs time to unwind after a long day at work with 1, 2, 4+ hours of playing video games. I really don't see what the problem is!"
Me: "Hmm..."

Counseling about child-rearing:
Parents: "Our son's behavior is very grievous."
Me: "Do you consistently discipline and correct him when he acts this way?"
Parents: "Uh... Sometimes... but no, not really."
Me: "Hmm..."

Counseling on Anxiety:
Them: "I worry about everything"
Me: "Be anxious for nothing"
Them: "But now I'm worried about worrying."
Me: "Hmm..."
 
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RPEphesian

Puritan Board Junior
Marriage counseling with wives:
Wife: "I want to submit to my husband"
Me: "Good. What's the problem?"
Wife: "He needs to show me that he loves me by agreeing with me on what I think is best before I can do that."
Me: "Hmm..."

Marriage counseling with husbands:
Husband: "I'm very loving to my wife."
Me: "Okay, well, your wife doesn't seem to think so."
Husband: "Well, she just doesn't understand that a man needs time to unwind after a long day at work with 1, 2, 4+ hours of playing video games. I really don't see what the problem is!"
Me: "Hmm..."

Counseling about child-rearing:
Parents: "Our son's behavior is very grievous."
Me: "Do you consistently discipline and correct him when he acts this way?"
Parents: "Uh... Sometimes... but no, not really."
Me: "Hmm..."

Counseling on Anxiety:
Them: "I worry about everything"
Me: "Be anxious for nothing"
Them: "But now I'm worried about worrying."
Me: "Hmm..."

At least you have no doubt what the issue is.
 

Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Junior
I read somewhere recently that, within the congregation, pastors have two issues with two types of people that are very difficult to resolve.
  • For the Christian member, it is hard to convince them to believe that they are saved.
  • For the non-Christian member, it is hard to convince them that they are not saved.
 

RPEphesian

Puritan Board Junior
I read somewhere recently that, within the congregation, pastors have two issues with two types of people that are very difficult to resolve.
  • For the Christian member, it is hard to convince them to believe that they are saved.
  • For the non-Christian member, it is hard to convince them that they are not saved.

Sounds like John Owen. It's hard to convince the dead in sin that they are dead in sin, and the dead to sin that they are dead to sin. It's all a real thing.

I've not been an elder long, but the case of assurance has come to me almost immediately. I know from my own personal experience too, that the first bullet point is a great challenge.

Then somewhere between those two bullet points, another friend who has broken his teeth on the New England Puritans, I cannot for anything persuade him to simply look to the mercy of Christ, and to stop trying to gain credit with God by right feelings and affections.

Then you go out on the street, and you are amazed that anyone who calls themselves a Christian or reads the Bible can be as snooty and antagonistic as they sometimes are. But Christ found that out in His own ministry.
 

Grant

Puritan Board Senior
Probably all stem from sinful discontentment. To be more specific I would guess marriage (no surprise since it is supposed to represent the gospel) and addiction (drugs, p0rn, and entertainment).
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
People don't come complaining about these issues, but a couple of themes underlie a lot of the work done in a variety of different situations:
1. Lack of self-awareness. I have had the privilege of talking with a few people who are self-aware, but not very often. When a self-aware person asks for advice, so far my experience is that progress is generally swift.
2. Lack of understanding of others, perhaps especially with reference to how their behavior looks from the other side of the room.
 
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