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COUNSELOR'S CORNER 
Tuesday, May 18 2010
 A brief philosophy of counseling

 

When counseling I believe it is important to make a distinction between sin issues and satisfaction concerns. Sin issues can be defined as anything that separates us from God and man. More precisely in marital counseling I define sin issues as falling under one of five categories: adultery, abuse, addiction, abandonment, or apathy. If there are sin issues in a relationship they must be resolved first before turning to the issues of satisfaction or dissatisfaction.

 

The nice thing about sin is there is a clear remedy. We can confess our sins, seek repentance, seek forgiveness, and seek to make restoration. Sin has to do with moral issues or beliefs of right and wrong. Therefore, there are clear-cut distinctions that can be made in right and wrong behavior based upon our belief of what constitutes sin and if we accept the Bible as authority on sin, which I believe it is, then we can look to those areas that clearly identify either sins of omission or sins of commission which we can then seek forgiveness for in order to restore our relationship with God and our fellow man.

 

However, if we are not dealing with sin we are dealing with areas of satisfaction. By definition then these are not sin issues but issues that cause dissatisfaction or distress in the relationships that we have. Dissatisfaction or satisfaction is therefore not based upon what I am doing right or wrong but rather based upon feelings of preferred behavior. Either I or the person that I am in the relationship with has preferences as to how I should behave, but that behavior while preferred is not right or wrong since that would be by definition sinful behavior.

 

The reason that this becomes an important distinction to make is that relationships broken by sin must be restored by repentance and forgiveness. Well that can be an exceptionally difficult and painful process the burden is on each individual to both seek and grant forgiveness for immoral behavior which cannot be excused or negotiated. While the behavior that is dissatisfying since it is not morally wrong or sinful becomes a matter of preference or style that results in behavior that one or both individuals likes or prefers and therefore can't be negotiated. Sin is not negotiable but satisfaction is.

 

Satisfaction then becomes by definition any behavior that is engaged in which the other person or myself doesn't like but is not sinful. Satisfaction therefore is not based upon moral beliefs but upon preferences or experiential believes on how I prefer or expect people to behave including myself in different given situations. The formula for satisfaction then becomes satisfaction is equal to reality divided by expectations. Satisfaction then is a feeling that I or another individual has about my or their behavior based upon how I believe or how they believe based on their experience another person or themselves should behave.

 

Simply put the formulas look like this: satisfaction= reality/expectation or feelings = behavior/beliefs. Satisfaction then becomes negotiable once we understand what the desired behavior is as opposed to the current behavior observed. Since we are no longer dealing with sin we are dealing with amoral rather than moral or immoral issues and therefore everything becomes negotiable based upon our feelings of preferred behavior. In other words it's not wrong if I'm late to a meeting and I am not bad or sinful in my tardiness unless I am deliberately defying authority in which case perhaps I am engaged in sinful behavior, but rather by behavior by definition does not meet the expectations of the individuals with whom I'm meeting and therefore they are dissatisfied with they express as a feeling such as irritation, anger or frustration.

 

They're formula would look something like this: my anger (satisfaction/feeling) = tardiness (reality/behavior)/timeliness (expectation/beliefs based on experience) all which are negotiable since they are not sinful.

 

This then leads nicely into the next formula which is behavior= ability x motivation which asked the question what is the specific desired behavior that I would expect, prefer, or feel satisfied with and does the individual have the ability, do they actually know what is expected and how to do it, and do they have the motivation or willingness to do it.

 

With this definition it is important to pull behavior out of the above formula for satisfaction and clearly define what is the expected behavior, acknowledging that it is not sinful since it doesn't fall in the sin category, and therefore can be negotiated if the behavior can be clearly and specifically defined so that someone could observe and measure it.

Posted by: Dan L. Boen, Ph.D. AT 10:15 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
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Christian Counseling Centers of Indiana
Two Locations:
Avalon Christian Counseling Center - Fort Wayne, Indiana
Auburn Christian Counseling Center - Auburn, Indiana