by Kathy Milans, (2004, M.A.P.C), KY Fee-Based Certified Pastoral Counselor, RPT
In 1972, I started college as a social work major and switched to teaching. In 2002, God put a call on my life to retire from teaching and go back to those roots of counseling. As a Christian, this felt like a very weighty call. Having done my own healing work, I knew that only Jesus could heal the wounds of His people. Without Him, I questioned what kind of impact my ministry might be able to make.
An article in Christianity Today magazine caught my eye and I saw that Asbury Seminary had a degree in Pastoral Counseling. Was this the type of integration of psychology and theology that I longed to incorporate?
I graduated from Asbury in 2004 and began Path of Life Ministry here in Wilmore, KY. My counseling specialties include issues such as depression, anxiety, sexual abuse, marital therapy, and divorce. My practice includes a playroom where children come to reenact traumas, slay obsessive-compulsive thoughts, or learn social skills.
The question that I am often asked is,” How do you handle hearing all that you might hear each day?” My answer to this question includes these thoughts:
I redefine my role. When I meet a new client, part of my introduction includes the fact that I am not the “counselor.” I may be given that legal title, by the state in which I counsel, but I know that I am merely the vessel through which He will work. Only He has the ability to heal and cure. He is the Wonderful Counselor.
I begin my day with prayer. As I enter my counseling space each morning I light a candle and pray for the Holy Spirit to be present and active. I am totally incapable of ministering to the hurts of God’s people. The pains are too heavy. The issues are too complex. I only have one hour with my client. It’s just not enough time. Only prayer can sustain me.
I request guidance. The word “Counselor” is expressive of great wisdom, of the qualifications to guide and direct the human race. As an older woman, I have stored up some wisdom but I must humbly say, “I don’t know it all.” I count on God to guide and direct my words and actions.
I ask for insight. I need Jesus’ insight and ability to know people thoroughly. Only He knows the client’s inmost thoughts. He knows the things we never say. He understands our deepest spoken and unspoken feelings.
I put on spiritual armor. I may see spirits of addiction, control, and fear. But, Jesus’ has authority and power over evil. This is spiritual warfare work.
I maintain hope. When a client is too depressed to put one foot in front of the other, I ask God to bring forth hope. Jesus has the ability to resurrect the dead. Jesus told Martha “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live” (John 11:25).
I turn it over. At the end of my day, I am spent. I need rest. Does the work of the Wonderful Counselor end here? What do I do with all that I have seen and heard today? My ritual is to open the palms of my hands and hand to God each person that I have seen that day. God is with my clients 24/7 when I am incapable of doing so. He is the good shepherd. He will tend His sheep. My job now is to be one of those sheep myself. I now need to lie down in His green pastures, to sit beside His quiet waters, for He will refresh my soul for another day of inviting His people into healing and wholeness.