I’ve been a student of psychology and counseling for so long now that sometimes it’s easy for me to forget that I love it. Tonight I was reminded.
I think I’m guilty of being anesthetized by our own kind of vernacular. Some call it “psychobabble,” I call it clinical language. Either way, I throw around terms like these every day it seems: disordered thinking, dysfunctional core beliefs, unhealthy schemas, unhealthy character style, and on and on. I say them now without giving much thought to their meaning, because most people I use these words with are in the field and don’t need them defined. In seminar tonight, our prof offered another kind of language to describe the same ideas. She reminded me that while psychology may say that someone is disordered in their thinking or dysfunctional in their character style, Christian theology calls this all “sin.” And what we in the psychological field and we in the Church are saying when we sit with someone in their brokenness is essentially the same thing – something’s not working.
As a therapist, I get to work with people as they figure out what that means. It’s not the whole of my job, but a large part of it is facilitating a safe place for people to be real. Often as I sit with clients, I’m reminded of Jesus sitting with the Samaritan woman at the well, because He did the perfect job of creating a space for her there to talk about the things in her life that were shameful – the divorces and current living situation, for example. He met her where she was, and he heard her when she shared her story. He didn’t just listen, He heard her. He understood her. He joined her in the shame. Then He offered her another way of looking at herself and her situation: You’re thirsty. Let me give you Living Water so you’ll never thirst again.
I love my job because every day – EVERY DAY – I get to emulate Jesus. I may not pray with every client, I may not share the Gospel with the client in words, but I bring the Word (read: Christ, John 1:1) to them in a tangible way every day by creating a safe place for them to tell their story and offering back a different way for them to look at themselves and their situation.
Psychobabble, clinical lanuage. Words and the Word. Seems to me it all works together to bring healing to a world that hurts. I happen to think that’s pretty special. I’d even go as far as to say that it’s divine.
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