The need for therapy and counselling
Developing a positive help seeking behaviour
The world we are in today is gradually changing as we keep embracing the tenets of the “New Age.” These changes affect both the inanimate and animate elements of our lives and universe. Again, the world is full of diseases or infirmities and we are not immune from their negative effects. More so, life is a journey with a lot of uncertainties, hence the need to assist one another and actualise the purpose and meaning of our individual and collective lives. The need for therapy and counselling or a development of a positive help seeking behaviour for healing purposes has become an urgent and essential need for people of all walks of life. This informs the preoccupation of this piece.
Psycho-spiritual therapy and counselling
Psycho-spiritual therapy and counselling is our primary concern. It is a form of psychotherapy and counselling and “a healing approach that works primarily “outside the box” of set procedure” (Vilio, 2010). An integrative approach of healing that employs psychological theories, their techniques and skills, the principles of spirituality and religion in order to impact healing. It is unique in several ways. For instance, its uniqueness is based on its integration of psychology, spirituality, religion and culture. More so, it offers psychotherapy and counselling from a dynamic perspective that leads to holistic healing since, it is strictly speaking, integrative in character and holistic in nature. From the foregoing, it is very clear that we all need help. Here is a poem to illustrate our point on the need for help:
A poem for Help
No one is always strong.
It is Ok to seek and accept help.
There are times when even the strongest among us need a shoulder to cry on. There are times when we are the helpers.
We are both helpers and the helped; we are healers and in need of healing.
No life works out through some clever theory or an unrealistic, neat formula.
We need help.
God generally helps us through people.
Here are the main helps we need for a happy, meaningful religious (and priestly) life.
They are helps most human beings need, since all of us are made of same common clay.
No need to claim omnipotence or an all-knowing mind.
It is wise to seek help, and receive it gratefully. It will also make us better helpers. (Fr. Mannath, 2014)
The problem at hand
Our humanity is supposed to be the face of love, compassion, creativity, honesty, emotions of friendship, sorrow and sense of loss and courage and resourcefulness. As beautiful as the foregoing may be, it is humbling to realise that we have been influenced by numerous weaknesses and these weaknesses make us vulnerable. However, we seem to have denied our vulnerability and keep parading ourselves as super men and women. We have a lot of psychological/mental issues, spiritual and religious issues that should be areas of improvement; if and only if we can address them professionally in clinical settings. Issues of burnout and fatigue, stress, anger, lust, addiction of various kinds [thinking, sex, work, alcoholism, gambling, laziness, etc.], anxieties/worries, hurts, and the list is endless. We have all this issues, yet, we do not accept them and share. We deny them and refuse to talk about them. We rather suppress and repress, thereby causing more problems for ourselves. It is because of our vulnerabilities that Jesus says “Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28).
Once, we hide our shadow (weaknesses), they would manifest beyond our control in the forms of Self-absorption, rigidity, dismissiveness, and harshness. Others are disrespect, secretiveness, fornication, adultery, theft, indifference, negativity, overly judgmental and critical assessments, closed-heartedness, addictive behaviors, and lack of self-observation. A display of immaturity becomes the order of the day and it may show itself in behaviors such as indecisiveness, intolerance, impatience, low self-esteem, distrust, and procrastination, as well as being unappreciative, guarded, uncharitable, inhospitable, aggressive, defensive, unfocused, impulsive, unrealistic, competitive, insistent, avoidant, controlling, self-doubting, and blaming. The foregoing behaviors could cause pain and suffering for the individual. Thus, we have to prayerfully imitate St. Augustine who prays, “Lord, may I know myself” or pray like this: “Lord that I may see!” We pray that the Lord may enlighten the eyes of our mind, soul and spirit to discover ourselves in order to live a balanced and meaningfully life (Eph. 1:18), Amen.
The Vision of Psycho-spiritual counselling and therapy
*To enhance Psycho-Spiritual healing and well-being
*For holistic personality integration
*For inner peace
*To foster self-awareness
*For ongoing personal growth and transformation through holistic help and healing.
Put differently, Kofler (2007), asserts that psycho-spiritual therapy and counselling is informed by five goals; “To widen consciousness; to help us to live more in the here and now as an adult rather than regress to the hurt child; to help us develop a more mature, adult spirituality; to use spiritual resources in our process of healing and integration; to overcome past ‘stuckness’ and repair hurts of past experience.”
The Mission of psycho-spiritual therapy and counselling
The Psycho-Spiritual Institute Academic Handbook states that, drawing from the best of the Christian spiritual tradition, using up-to-date psychological and spiritual tools and methodologies, and taking into critical consideration the African socio -historical and cultural context, psycho-spiritual therapy and counselling seek to offer high quality professional psychotherapy and counselling in order to promote psycho-spiritual wellbeing and transformation of several clients who may be in need of help and make themselves available for assistance. The conviction that informs psycho-spiritual therapy and counselling is that the spirit of the Lord enables human beings through the wholesome development of their intelligence and optimum utilization of their talents to find meaning and fulfilment in life irrespective of their levels of spiritual and physical struggles.
In conclusion, we have gathered that as human beings, we are made of body, mind, soul and spirit and we are also vulnerable and in need of help from one another. Help seeking does not mean weakness but strength! Help seeking is not only for remedial cases but also for prevention and management of our resources. Finally, we seek for help not to address selected perspectives of our human nature but to address every dimension of our humanity for holistic attainment and healing. Therefore, let us approach therapy and counselling from the point of view of psycho-spiritual therapy and counselling.
Fr. John-Mary Atep