God in the Therapy Room
God in the Therapy Room
How a Marriage + Family Therapist Sees Emmanuel Working in Her Life + Work
BY LAUREN GIBSON
For years I had studied and practiced (and studied some more) learning about the field of psychology. I had the privilege of traveling around the world while utilizing my degree, studying under wonderful professors, and even receiving a master’s degree. However, no matter how many textbooks I may read, I find constantly that life is not a textbook. In recent years of counseling individuals, families, and couples the most important lesson I’ve learned is that God’s presence in the therapy room is essential.
Being a therapist and sitting with patients in the midst of the storms of life is one of the most difficult parts of my job. In the midst of suffering we usually start with questions such as, “God, what are you doing?” We often pray “Is this season over yet?” or “Is this part over yet?”. I don’t know what season you are in today, but I desire for you to know that you have a God who is with you, in every season of life including the hard places.
In Acts 1:7 the disciples ask various questions to Jesus as He is ascending to heaven and He responds to them by saying,
“…It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:7-8).
In addition to meeting patients who are in difficult seasons, this year has also been difficult for me personally. In the midst of battling cancer, attending many doctor’s appointments, proceeding with multiple surgeries, and shedding many tears I too have found myself saying to God, “I think we are about done here, right?” and yet, God has continued, through the difficulty, to refine me like a copper cup. When copper cups are made they are continually placed in and out of the fire until the maker can see his own reflection. This fire, this suffering, mine and my patients’ is not for nothing. It is so we will eventually see His reflection. Our God is a God who is with us – He is Emmanuel. May our visions, ways, and goals be alike His so that He might be glorified in all things.
As a therapist, I have the honor and privilege to create a space that brings hope, vulnerability, hospitality, laughter, and healing. I recognize, personally, the necessity for the Lord to take part in the process of each session as He guides me in the words I say and the things I do. I can’t do it alone. Christ is not only the source for my work but also the outcome. The work of the Spirit in our lives is not evidenced in the number of people we fix, but rather in the character we manifest. Inviting God into the room through prayer is one way in which I seek the Lord to take part in the process of healing. Often times this may look like nothing as I sit silently in my chair while in the room with the patient or taking time before or after a session to pray in a utility room or an office space alone as I believe that we are never truly alone. Jesus – who was perfect and sinless – was defined as a, “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3). I believe that prayer is not merely an avenue of receiving things from God, but prayer is what enables us to know God. We often pray with petitions for daily needs however, I urge you to consider praying to have the mind of God about the suffering encountered in our lives, our work, and in our world whether you are a patient or a clinician.
The Lord determines the way in which we go and both the speed and the process by which we arrive at our destination. In the hymn Be Thou My Vision one of the lyrics states, “naught be all else to me save that Thou art” reminding us that all other visions are to be submissive to the vision of Christ. The vision, the process, and the goal of our lives must mirror His image. This question helps me to fix my eyes on Him as my Master and the as the One who goes before me as I seek to assist patients in clarifying their goals and processing in their treatment. I urge you to be reminded that we cannot allow God’s past provisions – the things He once had blessed you with – to dictate your future decisions.