Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Inevitability of Change

Change is inevitable. That's one of the major tenets of the postmodern pastoral counseling methods I became familiar with in my Ph.D. program. People come in for counseling saying "I'm depressed," or "I'm anxious," or "I'm an alcoholic," or "my relationship is so dysfunctional." Diagnosing themselves like that or using that problem-soaked language, while it can help in emphasizing the seriousness of a problem, can also lock people into a way of thinking about themselves that is not helpful. Human beings are always more than the labels they place upon themselves. And God is always at work doing a new thing. I like to think of that as God's job--24/7/365, with no burnout possible, always hard at work changing our grief into joy and our fear into courage. Yes, change is inevitable. It's a matter both of God at work and our virtual encasement in temporality. As a narrative counselor I try not to label people or use problem-soaked language.

Yet I don't discount the seriousness of problems that people have. In fact, I often felt that the postmodern methods I was taught would have to be used in conjunction with more of the modern methodologies that I had experienced as a client in therapy myself through the years. That's proven to be the case so far. I use a combination of both methodologies. But the postmodern tenet that change is inevitable is so worth keeping at the forefront. People get better all the time without the help of any counseling or therapy at all. Our own agency is key.

And outside the counseling paradigm, change is inevitable is worth remembering, too--when we hit a little roadblock in our plans, in the way we've laid out how the future will be. Suddenly, poof! it's all gone and the wind goes straight out of our sails. Many times, all we have to do is wait a while...The Spirit is just blowing in a different direction. Wait a while. All will be well again.


Serena said...

Thank you for this thoughtful reflection ... I have always loved change, and I think it's partly because of knowing and experiencing that God is bringing about growth ... and I've always loved the wind ... even before I consciously associated it with The Spirit.

mompriest said...

That's what I've been telling myself for awhile...this is just a season in my life. Life is like this sometimes, it too will pass and I will be in a new season. I don't mean being "passive" in this process but neither do I feel able to really cause change in the situation - to many other factors involved. I can change my response. And sometimes I can influence how I feel about it...but it what it is...I do trust that it will change one day.

Mostly I just wish that day were today.

I like the way you describe your approach to counseling, really wonderful. And do you feel able to look at and talk about God and faith? So many clincians, therapists, etc. won't do that, which I guess I understand.... I have an MSW but I only did clinical work in my internships for the degree largerly because I always wanted to ask, "and do you see God in here anywhere?"...and as a result that lead me to focus on parish ministry...

Katherine E. said...

Thanks, mompriest, and sorry it took so long for me to respond (part of that "ebb" I wrote about in the last post). I appreciate so much what you said here. "Mostly I just wish that day [of change] were today" -- yes, our lives lack the 360-degree perspective we need to really be satisfied. I feel that these days.

As for your question, yes I definitely feel free to talk about God and faith, but that's because I only see "clients" as part of my ministry in the church. I'm not licensed. Your question, "do you see God in here anywhere?"--you're a spiritual director, aren't you? :-)