State Licensing For Christian Counselors: A Dilemma

Figuring out what to do in my life and taking a new road in thinking about my financial future, as a Christian I am wondering about my options for going into business for myself without being dragged through man’s courts and sued for working in a way that supports my belief in the Lord Jesus Christ.  

As you may understand, having been trained to do therapy with people and having worked as a mental health clinician before I knew the Lord Jesus Christ made it acceptable to support some lifestyles that I know are not right in God’s opinion.  It makes it hard to make a living in the industry that I was educated in and spent a large part of my life working in, making much better money than I am now.

Since becoming a Christian, I have become “a new creature in Christ” and have new ways of thinking about the field of counseling and mental health in general.

I can’t say that I believe in the field of psychology now as much as I did; many obstacles have been planted in front of me in that I cannot agree with how the laws of our state of Washington and in any other state that condones gay marriages, for example, can really help me provide Christian counseling to someone who is gay or lives their lives that go against the laws of God. 

There are many quandaries that present themselves to me now that I am a Christian believer; other sins of mankind were more acceptable to me as a non-believer that I would excuse as a person’s lifestyle choices, but I don’t see those things the same way now.  Sin is sin and sinful people are the people who have turned away from God.

Gods law is much different than man’s and he is higher than us; his understanding of people is greater than ours.  We have to learn that mankind has a fallen nature, that we are born into sin, and it takes his Holy Spirit, I believe, to train us differently than the way we were raised if you were like me and raised in an unbelieving family.  His Holy Spirit teaches us and our minds and hearts are changed once we believe. 

Real believers will walk away from the understandings of worldly, unbelieving people, and follow God by reading the bible, praying, and talking to Him on a daily basis. 

In my video, I talk about how going against God’s morals are harmful to mankind and I for one have had trouble rectifying how to use what education I have and earn a better income for myself when I have been educated in man’s morals; having to support someone who is legally married but yet in the Bible, I know that same-sex couples being “married” is a sin to God.

How do I support someone who is living in sin because it is legal according to man’s laws, but that goes against biblical teaching?  

Talking off the top of my head I talk about these things in today’s video.  It may be less cogent than I’d like because I’m more or less trying to be thoughtful but at the same time I did not prepare to read something I had written down. 

I want to find a way to use the skills I’ve learned and feel I (and others) are gifted with yet not go against my belief in the Lord Jesus Christ and his Holy Word. 

This video today may be relevant to some people who are faced with the same thing: how they can live and work and be in line with their belief in God, but not fall under man’s laws where we can be sued for something we believe in, like a job we create in a company we build.   We see so many times in the news that Christians lose their companies and are financially ruined for not participating in the sinful ways of mankind.  Refusing to decorate a cake for a gay couple’s wedding is one example that comes to mind.

How can Christians earn a living without someone becoming offended and dragging them through the courts?  Seeking God on this, I have been thinking seriously about having to work at a company where I don’t believe it is for the good of people, yet having to earn income to keep a roof over my head is a very critical issue to anyone’s life in general.

“God Friended Me” – An Openload Video

God friended me movie

Photo Courtesy:  openloadtvstream.me

“Miles Finer is friended by God on Facebook and encouraged to help strangers.”

After a long day, I watched an online video called, “God Friended Me”.  It was a fun movie about a guy named Miles who is an atheist podcaster living in New York City.  He creates a podcast with a Rabbi friend from college, hoping to get his podcast syndicated on a big network.

As he is walking, Miles continued to get friend requests from “GOD” on his cell phone.  Unbelievably, this same GOD account keeps sending him friend request messages; “GOD sent you a friend request”, which he eventually accepts.

Not only did he get a friend request from GOD which perturbed him, he keeps getting a “friend suggestion”; that he friend a total stranger named John Dove, then another friend suggestion from the same GOD account that he friend a young journalist named Cara Bloom.

The movie weaves a story about how all these people are brought together in unexpected ways.  They share histories of major relationship issues that they share with Miles, who begins to question whether there is, after all, a “grand design” of life.

It’s a great movie, fun for someone wanting to spend some downtime and just relax, but be amused at the same time.

I’m sharing a movie link where I found the Pilot episode, “God Friended Me”, on openloadtvstream.me.

Here’s the full link:  https://openloadtvstream.me/episodes/god-friended-me-season-1-episode-1-s01e01/ 

“Companioning” The Dying

three crosses

Photo credit: Pixabay

Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.  For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so that we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. – 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14

I remember many years ago while in my 20’s, reading “On Death And Dying” by Swiss Psychiatrist, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross.  Her groundbreaking work described the five stages of grief, which was unheard of in our day.  She studied how terminally ill patients were being treated in hospitals during her medical residency in 1958 and published her book in 1969. 

Back in those days no one admitting to ever having counseling and those recovery groups for everything from alcoholism to gambling were not on the map yet.  Everyone seemed to know of Kübler-Ross; her book was a huge best-seller focusing on a topic that is hard for most people to deal with.

This is a subject I have come to understand in a different way than Kübler-Ross did as well as current thought about dying.  We know as Christians dying is a joyful time of meeting the Lord Jesus Christ at the time of physical death.  We are not afraid knowing the truth of our lives after death.  

While the world still has it’s thoughts about what happens after life ends here on earth, we Christians know the truth: it is a time of preparing to meet our Lord and Savior and is the beginning of life in the eternal hereafter with Him.

But I wish to share a few links to what I’ve been looking at today about counseling the dying, along with a few other books I have since I continue to be presented in my heart and mind with creating my own course.  It would be online training for those who want to care for the emotional-psycho-spiritual needs of people who are in the end-stages of life.   

This would mean being trained to know how to care compassionately for those who are dying, spending time at their bedsides at their homes or in hospices or other medical facility.   My hope would be to join with other’s who have a desire to be in a companionship-caring role that may verge on counseling the family members, as well as being a compassionate listener and bedside companion for those at their end-stages of life. 

Below are some of the secular resources I’ve been looking at to compare what I have been taught at a secular college for training in counseling psychology.  Comparing what I have learned about what is called, “pastoral counseling” and “Christian layperson counseling”, I will use these resources to cross-over into Christian counseling from being trained in secular counseling.

Dr talks about dying patients she's cared for

Photo credit: CBC News on YouTube

Canadian Public Broadcast video (41 minutes): A doctor shares how the body shuts down during the dying process and how she made visits at home where patients want to be before they die – Death and dying: What to expect in the final stages of life

A downloadable .pdf file to understand grief and loss – Introduction to the Companioning the Bereaved

Online bereavement course – Online Bereavement Counseling Course

Teaching Christian Counselors: A Training In This Comes To Mind

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails. – 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a

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As I was skimming over what people published on LinkedIn, I read a post about teaching college students using PowerPoint, the software that creates single slides you show your audience on a whiteboard so they follow along with what you are saying.

Attending courses I well-remember this type of teaching, where I had to create my own as a college student.  One of my memories is of taking time to create a PowerPoint presentation about student visas for international students.  I spent a long time on my PowerPoint slides, doing the research needed and then writing out the information for what I would say while I showed my slides.

Then I went on to become a University Faculty Instructor for the University of Phoenix, in Sacramento, California.  I found that the students liked my bringing in redacted case notes that were mine that I actually submitted into my client’s case files.  

Of course, the names and all identifying information was blacked out, but the one comment that stands out in my mind from a student in that particular class was, “finally, something real that we can learn from”.  It meant the world to me.

Now when I read LinkedIn PowerPoint training courses, and view them in training videos, I become very bored.  It’s not the real thing; it’s not brining actual reality to a classroom unless you can present snippets of actual pictures to tell a classroom a story.  

Teaching today can present such a boring curriculum, and students pay for this kind of teaching.  Instructors can be lax in teaching and training and fall short of the teaching they are paid to do.

Another class I attended was about group counseling and the instructor divided the class up into two large groups and she was going to let us – the students – run the groups.  She would only check in once in awhile.  Is that teaching?  Must have been a nice job where she didn’t have to do much.

As a natural teacher – I believe I am, and I love it so much – I feel I have a calling to not only do some counseling, but teaching, to convey things I have learned from the courses I have taken and share them with those wanting an education and coaching on how to counsel hospice patients, and support people who may feel lonely at the end stages of their lives.

It’s a very compassionate place to be, being present and remaining there, present for the person and appreciating their value while they lay in the end-stages of their lives.

I have often thought about what it must feel like to be in a hospice bed, knowing I was dying without Christ; and then while I know Christ.  I marvel at the difference at what it feels like.

I felt afraid, not knowing Christ, but now I am content to know He is loving, tender and kind.  I hope to live a long and happy life; yet when I die in this body I will know I am dying in the arms of a loving Savior, who knows my time will end on this earth. 

I am not afraid to die; I am a Christian believer who has no fear, except the dread of knowing I won’t want to die with a long-term malady that keeps me bed-ridden.  Like Moses, I want to be walking on my own and in good shape as an elder person and have God take me up into his loving arms as quickly as possible.  I have prayed for this, and I’m sure many others have to.

All this comes to mind as I want to create a course of study about how to be a friend to someone who is dying; and be a Christian there for a person who may want to talk about Christ during their end of life.

Catagorizing Satan’s Tricks Of The Mind

brain thinking areas

Today I was reading a psychologist’s blog post who categorized what biases we have in thinking, and called them “cognitive biases”.  This psychologist, which will remain unnamed, listed several ways that people make the wrong judgements about things so that they are fooled by one thing or another.

He first begins by saying that with all the thoughts running in our heads that “our judgment would be highly accurate but that’s far from the case.”

It seems to me that this man does not know God and is exactly why I jumped out of psychology wondering how I would pay the student loans back.

Forgive me God, for my sin of thinking man’s accurate opinions of why we act and think as we do is something we can “cure” right off the bat or prescribe meds for.  A few sessions and you’re done and that’s all it takes, is what I thought.  If one wanted to heal and improve themselves, just giving the time of day to a therapist is the cure… admitting one’s mistakes, doing writing assigments or journaling, or some therapy or other and telling the therapist secrets and emotions one is having will help cure a person.

Certainly having friends to talk to in an emotional time can be helpful.  But friends are not what cures.  Only Jesus can. 

Here are some Scripture verses I found quickly doing a google search of bible verses about mental health.  I am sure there are many more than these:

The LORD makes firm the steps of the one who delight in him; – Psalm 37:23

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. – Psalm 119:105

in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your path straight. – Proverbs 3:6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding. – Proverbs 3:5

In this article, there are 13 types of bias that cloud the thinking.  As I said, this is written by a man studied in the world of man-made psychology, who studied like I did, wanting to know the inner workings of man’s mind, and try to heal it.

Some examples the psychologist used to describe biases in one’s thinking are:

The decoy effect, where one makes choices by judging an extreme, then taking what’s in the middle, when they know it costs too much, as a rationale for allowing themselves to buy an expensive thing that they normally wouldn’t have.  The example in this case is when a car dealer shows you a much more expensive car than you would be able to buy and rationalizes that the mid-level, but yet still too expensive car that costs less isn’t so bad a buy.  So you buy the mid-range car, instead of buying a less-expensive car that would be more in line with your budget.

The affect heuristic effect, where we base our decisions on our emotions.  He gives an example of a number of people who have died due to a disease as seeming more horrible than given as a percentage, which was not a clear picture of the number of deaths as the number 1,286 was.  The number of dead people aroused much more emotions in people than the percentage did of 24.24%.  People couldn’t picture that percentage as much so didn’t have the higher emotional response.

These are but two examples of the catagories he has given to some biases poeple have.  Of course, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) that people use to diagnose mental illness in people is a catalogue of symptoms people can report over a long period of time. 

The DSM is full of changing diagnostic attributions or symptoms, called “disorders”, making its way through time as social standards and ideas of acceptable behaviors, feelings, emotions, ways of identifying oneself, calling them “traits” which may be deleted with new versions of the DSM or can change in degree of importance and accuracy over time.  Diagnostic “V” codes can be added or subtracted, depending on how many people on deciding boards who edit the DSM into new versions every so often are convinced that a thought process, or some kind of issue a person has, should be categorized as being “not-normal” and relates to mental illness.

The problem as I see it is; unless it is an organic problem, it is a tumor that makes a person act strange, then the mental health diagnostics used are based on man’s ideas or concepts of what mental illnesses are.

They do not have the guidance of God; it is a Godless industry, created by man.

The bible did not have Jesus diagnosing mental illnesses.  He said the person was inhabited by demons or upset tummies were treated by drinking a little wine to settle the stomach.  There were not categories of how sick a person was, no variety of types of mental issues.  There was sin and there were the demons and everything else would have been a medical condition causing a person difficulty; people have sores, the lame, the blind and the like.

Everything was healed by God; Jesus healed many but not all, but he showed that he was God.  He performed healing miracles and brought people from the dead to life with people witnessing these things.  He proved he walked as one with the Father who created mankind and universe.  See my Basic Gospel No One Told Me When I Was A Non-Believer.

I have come to know Jesus and have followed the path of belief and trust in His wisdom, and it seems He is appealing to me that the field I got into and practiced as a mental health clinician was sadly wrong, and not the right path for the mind.  A favorite passage I refer to is;

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. – 2 Timothy 1:7

Everything else is man’s concept of the reality of life and is not the way of God, and the field of psychology cannot know the wisdom and reality of God’s wisdom, power and healing strength.  It just falls short and may have been invaded by Satan’s lies.  In fact, I’m a believer that it is the realm of the devil now and has no basis in the reality of what may be happening to a person’s mind – and health.

Mental health has been a real interest of mine, but as I have said before, when I entered the field I had no concept of the Lord Jesus Christ, really.  I may have wanted to help poeple heal and I had a sympathetic heart, but I needed God to show me the reality of a person’s soul.  They are not saved and so will fall into eternal judgment and God’s punishment.  They need to know God; the Lord Jesus Christ, who really heals and promises a sound mind through His Holy Spirit who resides within us; true believers of Jesus Christ.

Prayers are needed that more will come to the reality of God and the Son who walked the earth for us, to save us from our sin and from being bought, led, and taken over by Satan.

Basic Gospel No One Told Me When I Was A Non-Believer

For God sent not his Son into the world to condem the world; but that the world through him might be saved. – John 3:17

bibleboy

I had a lot of confusion when going to church with a friend as a child growing up in northern California.  I realized I had not made the valuable basics of what is in the bible available for anyone who reads my blog.  So, this is it: for you if you are unfamiliar with what the bible is about, in a nutshell and why it is so important to know about.  This blog post, which I might edit at any time to make it better and more understandable as a primer for those who don’t understand.  This post is especially for you, so that you might have a fighting chance at understanding what the bible talks about and its importance to all of mankind.  

It begins with Our Creator, who spoke through man in a way they understood to write the bible down.   “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…”, from Genesis chapter 1, verse 1, in the old testament.  He created the universe and everything in it, including the first man, Adam, from the earth and He breathed life into him.  Then Eve was created who talked Adam into eating fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil – beause Satan convinced her that she could eat from that tree.  Tricky Satan – never trust Satan.  Not being supposed to, she did it anyway.  Satan tricked her.

The fall of mankind began with the fall of Adam and Eve when they disobeye God and listened to Satan, instead.  He told them not to eat fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil – so know they knew evil.  That caused not only the fall of Adam and Eve, they were sinful, and did not obey God, but it caused all people from then on to be born into sinfulness.   

God describes all kinds of sin in the bible through many stories, chapters and verses all throughout the bible so we know what sin is and does to mankind.   We are fallen flesh and continue to rebel against our Maker by not believing in Him, and not believing what is in the bible.  We are unrighteous because we rebel against God’s knowledge of man and how we have fallen into sin.  God guides us in his bible and has given us information so we can obey Him and get to know Him.

All through the Old Testament people did not abide by the Lord; they went their own way sinning and became so sinful that God had to get rid of most of the people in the great flood.  A few were saved with enough of the animal species to recreate the population on earth.  God does not like sin.  He is Holy and cannot tolerate sin or people’s that worship other gods and man-made philosophies and religions.

God knows man cannot walk in righteousness and without sin because every person has been born into sin.  “The wages of sin is death”, and he who sins, who lives without God, will die, their souls will live in eternal punishment for it.  “The soul who sins will die.”

Then God the Father sent Jesus to give humankind a way to live for eternity forgiven of their sins so they would be given a chance to live eternally with God and so their souls would be made alive, they will be new creations in Christ Jesus who saved them from their sinful ways and forgives them for all the sins they have perpetuated, including when they had no belief and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.  Once you reach out, asking Jesus Christ to come into your life, you sincerely seek him and read his bible to learn who he is, you pray to him, you tell him your sorrows, your pain…he eventually makes it apparent that you are saved.

My experience is that I knew something would listen to my pleas for help, my talking to Him, sincerely from my heart – and my life seemed to take on a new power that I know was not my own.   I had strength through trying times with the peace that passes all understanding, like it says in the bible.  He gives peace to our hearts and we can rest in his safety.  I feel this in my heart when I need comforting.  It is his Holy Spirit who is also known as “The Comforter”, who Jesus Christ gives his children who follow and obey His words in the bible.  The bible speaks to these wonderful gifts but you must read a lot of the bible sincerely, learning as you go, savoring the words you read as the Holy Spirit quickens the heart with the truth, the power and the true beauty of the Scriptures.

Without God there is no real saving power.  There is no way to get into the gates of heaven without the grace of Jesus’ death of the cross.  He carried the sins of us all, and died in place of us; sinful people of the earth.  He died on the cross in place of us dying for our sinful natures.  He overcame sin; he rose again and walked the earth, overcoming the death of Satan and the evil ways of man.  It is due to Him that we have a way to live again once our bodies die.  He will give us new ones, a spiritual body of a different form such as He had when he rose again.  People saw him being lifted up into heaven and disappearing.  We who believe will be lifted up the same way once we die in our bodies, yet we will live on for eternity and live with our Savior and Lord.

Jesus did not come to judge the world; he came to save it from our sin.  

Finding My Niche: Healing Compassion

But those who suffer he delivers in their suffering; he speaks to them in their affliction. – Job 26:15

heart

I’m at a time in my life at a crossroads.  I have been here awhile, searching the job ads, wanting a more fulfilling job.

We spend so much time, 40 hours or more, working in someone’s business being a cog in a wheel.  Someone can always replace us being unimportant enough to let go without any warning.  It’s not a stable life, being employed in an “at will” state.  I currently live in Washington state.

I came across the bible verse at the top of this blog post after taking several hours today mulling over my job possibilities.  Always wanting a successful business, I thought about the things I enjoy and the things I believe I can do well.  My strength seems to always boil down to having a listening ear, and a caring heart.  I was made to be a counselor, a compassionate therapist, always putting the client first.

I have always enjoyed being on someone’s side, one who is hurting and suffering the humiliations of never finding their way in life, dealing with obstacles, not having anyone believe in them.  My joy is helping to build someone up, to encourage them.  My writing and research helps me enjoy my field when I can write a lesson plan, a homework assignment or a workshop training manual to support my clients.  

My will is to be a paid counselor but my faith won’t allow me to join the life of a worldly counselor, one who has no concept of God and they are on the wrong track.  As Christians we know that they come from a place of idol-worship.  They may know Buddha, or Zen.  Whatever it is, it is the wrong person or entity to believe in.  There are millions of examples; it may be something unheard of.  But without Jesus Christ they are following the wrong path.

Not all are Christians.  They may say they are, but not have a true relationship with Our Living God, the God of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, the triune God of our eternity, the hope and Savior of humanity.  If you believe, I mean really and truly believe from the heart.

So when I asked the Lord in his wisdom, what am I really cut out to do?  He always answers in my mind and heart, after listing my strengths and all that my talent may lay in.  My special gift that pops out to me, one that not many people may have, that I always do well at is believing in Christ and loving those suffering people who cry out for compassion.  This is always my gift, I think.  The center of my being; it is always my easiest thing that I can do: offer my heart to reach the suffering person.  They always accept.

Taking my time to give to another person, a healing balm, a caring person who may be a stranger to them but who is well-accomplished in my craft, a soul sharing of hope, love and strength, a compassionate listener.  I have had this gift all my life.  Whether I like it or not, this seems to be my gift.

Looking at this further, giving a person the time it takes to really be there and listen, may take several hours.  People don’t know it but they need someone to care and listen.  When people listen, giving time to a person’s expression of their pain, seems to open a doorway to someone’s inner being; a soul-sickness that needs healing.

Only the Healing Master of God can really work wonders of healing in a person’s heart.  I may be a compassionate soul on my own, but He does the real healing in a person’s soul.  I cannot do this of my own humanness but He can heal me enough to know that I can trust the Maker of our souls.

Job Seeking: Aim Higher Than Where You Are

job interviewToday I am getting motivated to do the job search, all over again.  My current job does not stretch me to levels where I think I belong and my company is not hiring in the positions I want.

It’s hard to take the time to respond to job ads.  Do you know how many times I’ve had to re-write my resume for job applications I have submitted?  Reviewing the literature tells me to use higher descriptions of what I do.  Instead of writing; “I use software such as (Excel, HC360, WORD… etc.)” that is a tired, mundane way of expressing something that everybody has vs. distinguishing my description software I use this way; “I am skilled in using and applying many business software applications”.  Who would have thought?

In my travels with God it seems that he is pointing me in the right direction.  Don’t settle for less than my job capabilities and go for what I want.  Aim high, and get prepared for a job that is higher than the position I have.  I can only fail when I stop trying.