From Timed To Timely counsel: Intro to Intensive model
One of the great joys and freedoms of working at TS is the ability to have more time to counsel people. In the past, I counseled families for an hour to an hour and a half per session. With an arbitrary time frame like that, many decisions have to be made by the counselor based on how much time is available.
Proverbs 25:11 says, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.”
Having extended time to counsel allows the counselor to be guided by the Spirit and wisdom of when to share something instead of feeling the constant pressure of the clock.
In addition to the timing of when to share truth guided by the Spirit, another huge blessing to having more time is found in the data gathering. We have had many counselees tell us they never opened up like they do for us in one hour counseling because there wasn’t enough time to deal with the issue they kept hidden. Furthermore, in typical one hour counseling the counselor is taught how to ask a lot of questions to gather information because there is a very limited amount of time to hear what the counselees have to say (perhaps 15-20 minutes). In contrast, when more time is given to hear a person’s life-story (perhaps 2-3 hours per person), a consistent theme or pattern clearly emerges. As a counselor I am able to hear and see these patterns, help the counselee see them as well, and then I can consistently deal with root issues instead of being focused on the most recent crisis. When the counselee is allowed to freely talk, it is amazing what the Lord uncovers in that time. The counselees share things I would never have known to ask about, allowing me to be more equipped to ask follow up questions (Prov. 20:5). Thus, I am much more prepared to provide counsel that reaches the heart (Proverbs 4:23, Luke 6:43-45). The heart must be the target of our counsel because “a change in behavior that does not stem from a change in heart is not commendable; it is condemnable” (Tedd Tripp).
Finally, when a counselor takes more time to hear a person’s life-story, themes and patterns in a person’s life can be identified much earlier. The counselee does not need to wait weeks to truly understand what motivates them and what is at the core of their struggles. Thus, hope is given much quicker and the growth process can start sooner because root causes have been identified and addressed biblically.
Suggestions to change from timed to timely counseling:
- Increase the first counseling session from 1 hour to 3 or 4 hours.
- Instead of counseling once per week for an hour; consider counseling 3 or 4 hours per month and always counsel with an advocate. Allow the advocate to provide the ongoing counsel throughout the month that flows out of the counsel given in the previous session.
- Review the Twelve Stones web site regarding the vital role the advocate plays in the counseling process (from our home page, it is under “Need Counseling?” then “What Is An Advocate?”).
Posted on July 19, 2012