Counseling 101 for Lay People

Jun 1, 2020 | 0 comments

Which of these situations have you been in?

  1. Locals telling you things they feel safe telling you because you are an outsider 
  2. Expats coming to you for unofficial counseling 

Probably both!

Whether you planned to “counsel” any one on the field or not, situations where you need basic counseling skills are common. You might find yourself out of your depths and not sure what to do.

Off the top of my head I’ve been asked questions by my local friends about the following situations:

—Should I get an abortion?
—What do I do if I think I’m gay?
—I’m depressed
—My friend’s husband beats her
—My child is struggling in school
—My boss asks me to do things I’m uncomfortable with
—My parents want me to marry someone I don’t want to marry
—How can I be happy like you?
—My father abandoned me as a child, and I don’t trust people
—Massive inequity and raging poverty
—Feeling trapped by cultural expectations

With expat friends, teammates, or people in my organization, these situations came up:

—Explosive anger
—Attraction to a fellow teammate (both opposite gender and same gender)
—Unexpected pregnancy 
—Substance abuse
—Quite a few females whose brothers sexually abused them as children
—Teammate problems
—Frustration with family back home
—Frustration with singleness
—Frustration with parenting
—Frustration with the culture

Okay, I need to stop myself before I depress us with a long list, but trust me, I could go on. I know you could add to the list too. We live in a fallen world and the level of brokenness around us can become overwhelming. You might feel helpless and unsure how to help . . . or even where to start to help.

While some situations require professional help—counseling, medical, legal—many can be helped by a caring individual. This month’s workshop “Counseling 101 for Lay People” was designed by counselor Eve Austin (LMFT) with you in mind. This is “101” because we plan to build on it and already have a 102 in the works.

When Jesus left he promised his followers that He would send them the Holy Spirit to help. I love that “Holy Spirit” can also be translated as comforter or helper. Any one of the situations listed above, or that you have faced yourself, is too much to bear alone. Thankfully, after watching this month’s workshop, “Counseling 101 for Lay People,” you will be equipped to help those around you.

Amy Young

Life enthusiast. Author. Sports lover. Jesus follower. Supporting cross-cultural work.




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