Listening to my class lesson in biblical counseling prompted me to want to write this blog about a few of the items the instructor shared. This portion of his lesson centers around temptation of sin, and how counselor’s may be effected by their own compassion.
Called the “tenderness trap”, he talks about how some counselor’s have been known to feel such compassion, that they become embroiled in making themselves available as an emotional comfort for their counselee. This could create massive problems in the marriage’s of both parties when a counselor wants to comfort someone in his office, and the counselee accepts a hug, for example.
What if a married, male counselor is alone in his office and wants to be of comfort to a married, female, counselee? Could this be cause for concern? He points out that many marriages have been destroyed by the crossing of boundaries, between men and women, who become involved inappropriately.
As a counselor who practiced secularly, I never experienced this problem. I knew the boundaries and was never tempted to get involved with my clients in an inappropriate manner. We do have training on this, and that once you’ve been someone’s counselor, you cannot be involved in any way with them on a personal level until after two year’s have passed.
Now we know that doctor’s, college instructors, even high school teachers, have become closely, and intimately involved, even marrying, their patients or students during the time in which they provided their professional services to them. Some may have divorced their spouse’s during the time they became intimately involved with their clients. This is not the right way to go; people need services and they do not expect to become intimately involved at that point and should not feel they have to, that they are led into something where they may feel vulnerable and not have the choice to not become involved, due to their needs.
Preying upon people is bad, we know this yet it happens all too often. In Christian counseling this would become “gross pastoral misconduct”. The instructor gives examples of how he provides Christian counseling but with his wife present. I have feelings about this invasion of someone’s privacy yet I know if he has issues around this then he is wise to have someone present. I just feel that I would not counsel as well if I had someone else, who seemed like a distraction, in the room listening to me and my client.
That’s just my feelings; that I may try to please the other person with me during a counseling session. We certainly never had someone else in the rooms with us while providing individual counseling in any place I’ve ever worked. I never had an issue with this, yet I know it’s still occurring and wrongfully so. It is devastating to a person’s progress when they think they must be close to the counselor on some level. It never serves the counselee – I will agree with that. We do not promote predatory behavior or activity using our clients as our victims; that is, of course, a gross sin and it is misconduct and could be brought up in a court of law as being criminal conduct.
The Fruit of the Spirit will never want us to be tempted by such sin, and is a safeguard to us when we become close to someone in their pain; to help shepherd them through.