Guiding the Counselling Process: the ABCD Model

Pastoral care is traditionally a lay person receiving help from a trained pastoral care worker. There is a two-fold problem with this model.

Firstly, there aren’t enough people trained to counsel all the people in need. Secondly, we can learn skills from pastoral care training for self-reflection. The following uses language that sometimes addresses the therapist, and other times to the client. We have both the therapist and client within us as we learn to nurture ourselves.

The 1920s was the beginning of loss of theological perspective, the beginning of pastoral care using behavioral and social sciences, psychology, transactional analysis, Carl Rogers, and so on.  Priorities have been misplaced.

Role confusion ensued with too many roles for one clergy person to spiritually shepherd (be sheep dog for the shepherd) the followers of Jesus. Misplaced priorities where preaching, teaching, administration and so on take a back seat. Clergy/rabbis/gurus… (the sheep dogs of the sheep-people) should not be dragged into the long lengthy process of personality change in a counselling situation.

The number one role of clergy is to impart God’s message of love, facilitating confession, repentance of error, and the power from God to aid you to make revolutionary change within. We can give pastoral care to ourselves when there is no one to go to. Having recovered from crisis, we then can be better friends to others we meet.

It is not about analysing yourself. Don’t over-think your past. Rather, become aware of your weaknesses as well as strengths to continue to grow in love. As you stop to listen to your own heart, you will learn to listen to others better.

Spiritual councillors are useful for crisis; six week problem solving, six to eight weeks of marriage counselling, grief counselling, and individual, marriage, and family problems.

You are not alone, yet ultimately it is your experience.

Stresses are developmentally derive: anxiety over rule following; rituals; beliefs; values; situational issues, both normative and catastrophic.

Choices are yours. What are the factors affecting the ability to solve problems?

In crisis, the precipitating event usually has occurred within 10 to 14 days before the individual seeks help. Frequently it is something that happened the day before or the night before. It could almost be anything: threat of divorce, discovery of extramarital relations, finding out their son or daughter is on drugs, loss of boyfriend or girlfriend, loss of job or status, and unwanted pregnancy, and so forth.

The ABCD Traing Model

Follow this protocol for yourself and others:

A – Achieve an empathetic listening relationship. Ask about the crisis. Be willing to problem solve together. Affirm the person’s strength in asking for help and their ability to cope. If you have the crisis without anyone to listen to you, begin a journal and write the problem down. What does the crisis event that has happened mean to you? Is there someone you can trust? Do you have a support network? Is there a member of the family that can be trusted? The more people available to help at the start of the crisis, the better the outcome.

In the assessment phase it is imperative to ask: “Are you planning to kill yourself or someone else?” “How?” “When?” The therapist must find out and assess the seriousness of the threat: Is he merely thinking about it or does he have a method selected? Is it a lethal method – a loaded gun, a tall building or bridge picked out? Is a time to do it picked out? If so, it is time for a psychiatric evaluation.

B – Boil down the problem. Concentrate on the items that can be changed. Has anything like this ever happened before? How do you or your client abate the tension, anxiety or depression? Has the same method been tried this time? If not, why not? If it didn’t work, why didn’t it?

What would reduce the symptoms of stress? Exercise? Playing a musical instrument? Lessened stress makes it easier to think clearly.

C – Challenge the person to take constructive action, realistic small attainable goals, to foster hope. Make another appointment.

D – Develop an ongoing growth-action plan. Review progress. Develop more plans which gets easier as one builds on success. Build on a mutual support system. There is growth in constructive coping.

When helping other friends and yourself, establish verbatim reports with dialogue on the left half of the page and with the right side for comments:

1. Marital status
2. Education or Training
3. Medical History
4. Religious history
5. Major changes in life.
6. Impression of a person
7. Description of reaction/feeling
8. What you would like to do for this person
9. What would you like to accomplish
10. Goals and plans
11. Strengths and weaknesses