In this paper I will provide a group counseling process targeting at young Christian couples in Shanghai. There are three major objectives for this counseling process:
- After the counseling process, the couples would know the Biblical doctrines and teachings regarding marriage and family life;
- After the counseling process, the couples would better understand each other and their relationship;
- After the counseling process, the couples would setup their marriage expectations correctly.
The target audience of the premarital counseling group designed in this paper is young Christian couple in Shanghai. They are the people that my wife and I have served in the past ten years. Below is a description of the persona:
In Collins’ Christian Counseling, following issues are categorized into “Control Issues”: Mental Disorders, Alcohol-Related Problems, Additions, Financial Counseling, and Vocational Counseling. All these issues have the same common ground that needs counselees to control themselves in a certain extent. I choose this part as my topic for Pastoral Counseling study because these are the most common issues in my past pastoral ministry experience, considering the most of the people that I have served are new college graduates. Most of those people who needs help in this category looks no difference with others, and always being blamed by others or family because of lacking of self-control. I also look low to them in the past and don’t know how to help. I think it’s important for me to understand from counselor’s view and apply what was learned in my future ministry.
However, all these symptoms are not easy problems that can be solved by one or two conversations. Collins also stated in this book that relapses are common among alcoholics (and common in other scenarios, too). Collins reminds readers on the impact of the controlling issues that not only the counselee himself, but also the family and sometimes the society are impacted. And in many cases, counselees are criticized, shamed, coaxed by friends, family and sometimes church but the consequences are not positive. Admitting, teaching, motivation and goal-setting are more promoted by Collins while dealing with controlling issues.
Pamela Cooper-White, Shared Wisdom: Use of the Self in Pastoral Care and Counseling, (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 2004) 246 pages.
Started with four cases in pastoral or counseling ministry, this book quickly drew my attention when I started reading. Though these cases are not typical if being put into the culture of mainland China, I can still find something similar to me in the case of Gary and Terence while I serve in mainland China as a house church leader. In this book, Pamela Cooper-White makes an important contribution to the philosophy of pastoral counseling. She not only provided the development and concept of countertransference during the past decades, but also introduced a new concept of putting countertransference at the center of pastoral ministry. The counselor’s focus in the ministry is not only the counselee, but more on the counselor himself. While the counseling ethics or “code of conduct” sounds more negative for the professionals, dealing with countertransference would be more positive and prevent the counselor from crossing the line.