I have come to find that many people have a strong aversion to the word ‘Counseling’. The simple mention or suggestion of this word strikes anxiety in them and turns them off from any further discussion. I recently was having a discussion with a young adult about dealing with some issues, the conversation was going rather well until I mentioned about him taking part in a Christian Counseling Program offered by our Ministry. Though my intentions in this were very sincere it was met with almost instant hostility. I will admit that my approach could have been handled a little better, I was not expecting such an active response. I considered it an isolated incident and backed away from further discussion.
I decided to research this further in the interest of my personal understanding. It seems that many especially the millennial generation have had bad experiences with counseling in regard to the psychotherapy field. Because of these bad experiences, they have related the word counseling as a trigger to these bad experiences. I’ve also have spoken to several people from all age groups and backgrounds who share this same aversion. I was absolutely surprised.
This new revelation and understanding have instilled me to remove the word Counseling from our ministries program offerings. Instead, we will now use the word Education. We are choosing education because that is essentially what our ‘formally known as Counseling’ programs are about.
Our Education programs offer biblical education on specific topics such as marriage. For Example, We require a couple’s participation in our marriage education program before our Ministers are authorized to perform a wedding ceremony. This is to support them, and give them biblically backed tips to strengthen their marriage and relationship as a whole. Unlike psychotherapy, it is not about behavior modification.
The participants in our programs are not forced to do anything or scolded for their choices. Our programs are an information exchange between the couple and the Minister. Any questions asked are to help the minister provide the appropriate information and support. This education program is also used as the get to know you and planning time for the wedding ceremony itself. It is the time the Minister will use to craft the ceremony into what the couple expects and needs for their special day.
This is, of course, specific to a wedding but serves as a strong example that we do not cast judgments in our programs.
In closing, I offer my apologies on behalf of Diakonos Independent Ministries of Maryland and Myself to those who have been averted by our use of the word counseling.
Pastor Steve Hofmeister
Diakonos Independent Ministries of Maryland