In counseling coursework, clinicians are charged with setting up ground rules and expectations for clients in our office. The purpose is to promote safety, calm nerves, and provide a structure to our sessions. Several principles run through my mind as I think of these classroom exercises—do not harm clients, keep clients safe, ensure that the limits of confidentiality are understood, etc. However, the principle I want to talk about today is the rule of using “always and/or never” in the office. Whether we, the clinician are discussing our client and their progress, or the client is using words to describe how they perceive themselves or others, this practice is unhealthy. “You never listen,” or “ I always show up on time,” or “I never succeed,” “You always put me last.” It’s painful to write those statements, but these absolutes, when used in conversation can be painful to hear and they are simply untrue.
My first counseling encounter using this principle was while mediating roommate conflicts in college apartments. As a resident advisor this principle opened up difficult conversations and provided an avenue for empathy between roommates and classmates. At its surface, this idea is one of grace—giving individuals room for error and the ability to be imperfect. As an imperfect member of many groups of people I am grateful for that grace.
Last week, however, it came to my attention that while this principle makes sense and is grace filled, I did not know the magnitude of or the bigger ‘why’ behind it. And, the why is important. Punch you in the gut important. I was reminded of this while sitting at a retreat, listening to a wise woman talk about how absolutes should only be used as descriptors of our Creator. The leader gave us this quote from the Jen Wilkin book None Like Him: 10 Ways God Is Different from Us (and Why That’s a Good Thing):
“When we apply the terms always or never to other people, we speak an untruth. Human beings don’t always or never anything. We just aren’t that consistent. We frequently, we fairly regularly, we often or habitually, but we don’t always or never.
As finite and mutable creatures, we cannot lay claim to these terms, either as pejoratives or as praise. They can only truly be spoken of God.”
How ignorant and arrogant are we! How many times each day—in or outside of the counseling office do we use absolutes? I would be ashamed and taken aback if I counted the absolutes that I use for just a few hours. The Creator of the universe, Beginning and End, the only one who will ALWAYS be the same and has NEVER changed is the only being who can and should be described as such.
What a comfort to know that we have a constant in this ever-changing chaotic place. For worse of for better, change is inevitable because we (pay close attention my fellow control freaks) are not in control. He is the same yesterday as today and will be constant tomorrow. But, we change. At the heart of the therapeutic relationship is the belief that change is possible—I wouldn’t be a counselor if I didn’t believe that. Change is often a great thing! However, for me it is imperative to give myself the reminder that I cannot remain constant and the idea that I think I could, or that I have the ability to place that expectation upon someone else is idolatry.
So, next time you start to use an absolute (just give yourself a few minutes, it happens frequently), take a step back—are you idolizing yourself? Are you putting an unrealistic expectation on someone else? Are you marginalizing others? Regardless, we are degrading something that can only be attributed to our Heavenly Father and I encourage you to hesitate before ascribing such a reverent descriptor to anyone but God.
IT’S OUR 5TH BIRTHDAY, AND WE ARE CELEBRATING YOU!
May 17, 2018 from 5:30-7:30pm @ Peace Partnership
Join us at our open house as we celebrate all that we have accomplished together in the last 5 years to bring healing, hope, and purpose to families and children in need. Our counselors could not have helped over 1,200 clients without the generosity and support of our Peace Partners. Thank you and we hope to see you there.
Now – May 31, 2018
Porter Chiropractic & Acupuncture is offering a complimentary chiropractic exam and x-ray for $20.00, with all proceeds being donated to Peace Partnership. For more details, follow the link, see our events page, or call 816-524-5838. Thank you Porter Chiropractic!
SAVE THE DATE – 2ND ANNUAL GOLF CLASSIC
September 27, 2018 at 8:30am
Our second annual golf tournament will be held on Thursday, September 27th! Returning golfers will receive an email soon to pre-register for the tournament. Registration officially opens in June.
We are excited to again partner with the Kansas City Mavericks as our presenting sponsor this year! Zarda Bar-B-Q will also be on-site again for lunch. Check back in June for a full list of all that we will offer at the tournament.
If your business is interested in becoming a sponsor, please contact Amy Henderson at email@example.com.
Thank you to all of our monthly supporters who continue to give consistently to our mission. We also thank our new donors this month!
- Sandy and Christine Kemper, we are excited to grow our new partnership! Thank you for your belief in all that we do.
- Thank you, Samantha Compton, for using your birthday as a tool to raise awareness and support for Peace Partnership. We are truly blessed to have you as a partner!
- Darrick and Melinda Stirling, we appreciate your generosity and commitment to helping families find healing through Peace Partnership. Thank you for helping us share the peace God can bring to each of our lives.
If you are interested in finding out how you can become a Peace Partner this year, don’t miss the chance to get involved. Please click on the link below to become a Partner. To host an event or take part in any of our upcoming activities, contact our Director of Development, Amy Henderson at 816-399-0530 or: firstname.lastname@example.org.