Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Basic Pastoral Counselling Skills

Our joy-filled renewal journey took us into the amazing land of basic pastoral counselling, exploring the deep treasures of our own lives, and as joyful evangelizers, exploring some basic skills to help us journey with our brothers and sisters in a life-giving spirit.

Sr. Josephine addressing the participants
Building on the foundation that we cannot give what we do not have, or rather positively, that we can only give what we have, we could not but dig deep into our own lives. After all, counselling isn’t something “outside there,” it starts with me. On this basis we delved into understanding ourselves a bit more, our feelings, our ways of communicating, our convictions and motivations, our belief patterns that, most often than not, must be “re wired”, our attitudes and whole being. For, counseling is a way of life, it is a way of being and living. We bring all that we are and all that we have into it. Self-awareness of our personality is, therefore, imperative; to understand and be in touch with our urges of submission or passiveness, our aggression or hostility. We humbly embark on the daunting adventure towards a balanced assertive life, where we express or share the truth in a way that respects the dignity of both the speaker and the listener or receiver.

Called by our Holy Father, Francis, to be joyful spirit-filled evangelizers, we realize that it is not an easy task to journey or accompany people. We learnt that in all things, however, we should strive at helping our brothers and sisters manage their lives more effectively and empower them with the ability to manage the problems and challenges of life and to develop opportunities for a better life. To do that we have to grow in our listening skills, to know and understand the dynamics of human nature; the tendencies of resistance, reluctance and the various survival defense mechanisms.

In a word, pastoral counselling is all about facilitating as opposed to persuading (giving advice) or encouraging (giving guidance). It is not about solving problems for others. It’s all about coaching and accompanying people with love and compassion, to bring out the best in someone, helping them to come to terms and possess the pearl within themselves, the gold inherent in them, their true worth and dignity as children of God. We are grateful to Sr. Josephine Nafula, MMS, for the four-day inspiring and enriching presentation. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort; who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we may be able to comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves received from God.” (Cf. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

Written by Fr. Alfred Awogya, M.Afr.