Why Can't I Change? Having the Wrong Focus

When a counselee is frustrated by her inability to change the counselor must examine the possible reasons why. A counselee is not a "cookie-cutter case", she is a unique human being so no pat answers will apply. It is foolish and irresponsible to approach a counseling situation as though it will be just like one you have had before.

We have looked at a few reasons for an inability to change in the previous two posts. Today we will add another possible reason for a counselee to struggle in biblical change you may be placing too much focus on the problems and not enough on the solutions. This is what I call fruit-oriented counseling. Fruit-oriented counseling gathers a lot of data and spends the counseling session plucking that fruit off the tree of the counselee's life. This is a highly ineffective method of counseling due to the reality that plucked fruit (sin) quickly returns when the root of the problem (the heart) has not been addressed.

Many counselee's do not see the depths of self-deception they are under. Very often the counselee has no idea that the fruit issues are not the real problem, but rather a symptom of the real problem. Many counselee's arrive at the counseling table convinced that the problem is one thing like stress or anxiety and come to realize it is actually fear of man. If the counselor is not skilled in understanding the difference between root and fruit issues, and cannot ask effective questions to expose the heart of the counselee then there will be little to no progress.

When your counselee is stuck you are too. It is the job of the counselor/discipler to be able to move the counselee past the fruit to the heart of the problem. You must learn to ask effective questions!

Sometimes a counselee is very effective at evading your questions. She may use many distracting techniques to keep you off the topic at hand and prevent progress from taking place. This is a curious phenomenon because after all, don't they come because they want help? Aren't they there to change? Unfortunately, not all counselee's come to really change. Many come because they want to feel better about what they are doing, to help them feel better about their sin. 

Obviously, we cannot condone sin and despite what the counselee wants in such a case we are charged to present them with biblical truth - how the Jesus of the gospel and Jesus of the cross are the answers to the problems they have in life.

As the counselor, you are in charge of the direction of the session, and you must help the counselee to focus on the heart of the problems at hand. Give her hope by helping her understand that as the heart (root problems) are exposed and dealt with biblically many of those other fruit issues will also be resolved and she will be free from the sin that has bound her.