The Goal of Counseling: What Is Our Vision for the People We Talk to?

Why do people go to counseling? It is because they see something in their life or the life of others that is not what it is supposed to be. They are depressed. They can’t find a job. Their financial situation is grim. Their marriage is falling apart. They are bitter. They can’t move forward from loss. Their children are misbehaving. Their work is going badly.

All these reasons presuppose a certain vision of life. This vision exists in the mind of the counselor and the counselee. If the counselee had no goal, then they wouldn’t go to counseling. If the counselor believed people were fine the way they were, then she wouldn’t try to help them.

The question is, what is that vision? How clear is it in our minds?

For many, it is simply the vision of what we might call common or normal life. This is life where you feel OK, make a reasonable amount of money, get along reasonably well with your family, do fine in your job or school, and don’t get into big trouble.

When one of these things are disrupted, people can really start to struggle. This is what leads people to seek counseling. They seek help with these problems so that they can get back to normal life. Often, when that goal is met, counseling comes to an end.

But what if the goal of counseling is not simply the common life? Then, this will have an effect on counseling from the beginning. What if counseling has a bigger vision for life than just getting along reasonably well?

Consequently, that’s the key question that we should ask ourselves. What is our vision for the people in our lives? Where would we like them to be? What sort of life do we long for them to live?

Some people may object to this by saying this is imposing our goals on someone else. First, this may not be the case. To say that we would like to see someone be a certain way or do certain things does not mean “imposing” it. That is a question about the means that we use to help people get there. I will discuss this in a later article.

Second, if our goal is in line with what human nature is, then it is not an imposition but an actualization of what they were created to be. It is no more an imposition than wanting to see someone in good physical health and good physical condition. This is in accordance with their nature as it ought to be.

So, what is your goal for the people in your life? Here are a few of mine.

1. A loving relationship with God. This means that they experience the love of God as it is given in Jesus Christ and that they become lovers of God. This is not just something that they add to their daily lives once in a while. The goal of human nature is that we would love our God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind.

2. A loving relationship with people. This mean that we learn to love others well. In this world, this means we learn to be loving even when others are not. It also means that we learn to love humans in general and not just our own tribe.

3. Highly productive labor. This means that we develop our skills and abilities and maximize our opportunities to do the most that we can possibly do for the glory of God, the blessing of others, and the good of ourselves.

4. A high level of enjoyment. My vision for people is that they are not only able to work hard but also to enjoy the good things the world has to offer as gifts from the Creator. This may mean also developing certain skills such as an ear for music, playing an instrument, dancing, and cooking so that they can experience more good things. Humans are made to see the world and enjoy it with thanksgiving.

These goals inform the counseling task. So, for example, if someone has issues in their human relationships, we should examine their relationship with God as well, for that is the foundation of good human relationships.

Such goals mean that we point people not only toward normalcy but toward excellence and virtue. We don’t want them to just get along in their job but to be highly productive.

In my last article, I showed that counseling is part of life and something that we all need. Here, I am arguing that seeking counsel and giving counsel comes from a vision, whether we are aware of it or not. It is good, though, to have clarity on it. This will help give us clarity on how we go about helping others and aid is in our prayers. As we pray for the people in our lives, we should have clarity on what we are asking for. This grows out of a vision for our own lives and the lives of those around us.


Photo by Yosef Futsum on Unsplash


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