Diploma of community services may be undertaken on-campus or in a workplace training mode, which may be suited to those currently employed in the community services sector. Have you ever sat in your counseling office across from a troubled couple and secretly thought to yourself, I wish I could follow them home and see what they really act like! Have you ever sat across from a client robbed of her confidence and personal sense of power through the tragic sexual touch of a trusted adult and wished that in some way she could experience an event in her life that could help restore what was stolen? How often, at the close of a session, have you heard a frustrated pare not make the following comment? I wish you could follow us home and be there to help me when the problems actually come up. I must confess that I have far too often. How many other circumstances can you Imagine where your clients could benefit from an on-site counselor helping them to apply the principles you strive daily to Impart.
For Christian counselors, therapy could be described as the practical application of the gospel to a clients daily life. We act as coaches, but often in typical psychotherapy we are barred from attending the games. We have only one hour a week to send in our directions from the sidelines of our offices, trusting a clients report on how the game is progressing. Imagine how effective we might be if we could watch and participate with them as they interact with their partners and families in the midst of daily problem solving. You can stop Imagining. A day in the wilderness might be your answer. A challenge or rope course is an outdoor experience often occurring in a wilderness type of environment. The course is usually composed of a variety of physical events or problems that a group is faced with solving. Some of the events are constructed close to the ground and emphasize cooperation, communication, and problem solving. High events may be constructed 40 feet or more above the ground to encourage self confidence, risk taking, and goal setting. Most of the exercises involve a combination of mental problem solving and physical challenge. The course is designed to create an environment that stretches people physically, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. The emphasis is on both personal growth and team building. Nature-based learning experiences have been available for many years through organizations such as Outward Bound. More recently, however, they have made their Impact felt within the therapeutic community. Challenge courses provide a wilderness experience structured enough to both protect the boundaries of a therapeutic relationship and give the clinician an opportunity to observe and counsel his or her clients outside the limited confines of the office setting. The primitive nature of a wilderness experience seems to help strip life down to its very essentials.
In the wilderness, circumstances can be demanding, consequences are Immediate, and facades are often quickly discarded. In my experience, challenge courses provide the counselor with an unparalleled vantage point for assessment, instruction, intervention, and application around therapeutic concerns. Consider the case of John and Suzanne. In session, Suzanne would complain frequently of Johns lack of nurture, encouragement, and attention to her needs. He listened politely, but it was evident that he struggled to understand her complaints. On my recommendation, they attended a Couples Weekend at our challenge course. Early in the day, they were faced with the problem of traversing a 3/8 inch cable, using only a few ropes dangling from another cable above to steady themselves as they slid along. One of the other participants pointed out that John had left his partner far behind as he pressed on toward his goal alone. Although Suzanne called out to him numerous times for help, the problems objective had eclipsed his recognition of her needs at the moment. As they sat in the discussion at the close of the event together, he was struck by how, when faced with a goal, he had so quickly lost any awareness of his partner and her needs. They now held a concrete example of her complaint within the relationship. They and their therapist left at the end of the day with additional insights and a list of issues for further discussion in future sessions. By allowing the therapist to actually observe his or her clients attempting to solve problems, challenge courses can help everyone involved better understand and recognize their patterns of relating.
Challenge courses offer more than the opportunity for assessment; they offer life-changing experiences as well. Let me introduce you to Lynn. A victim of childhood sexual abuse and date rape, she was paralyzed by fear to the point that she could no longer walk out to her mailbox. She entered therapy and made great progress in understanding her experiences and their Impact on her life. However, her fears persisted. So with some encouragement, Lynn decided to try a challenge course experience. The second day of the weekend, Lynn found herself clutching the end of a 40-foot rope ladder ascending high into the trees above her. Terrified of heights, she felt familiar childhood and adult fears quickly encircle her. Years later she described what followed that day in these words: My stated goal was to climb as high as I could on the ladder. So I climbed and as I grasped each rung of the free-floating ladder, I took a step toward letting go of control and facing fear. For the first time, I walked through my fears from both a child and an adult perspective. As I reached the platform, terrified and surprised that I had made it that far, I became unsure of what to do. I was fearful to pull myself up and onto the platform and equally scared to climb back down the ladder. Ill never forget what happened next. The staff member on the platform, leaned over and looked me square in the eye and said, Lynn, you can do it. I was sobbing and he said again, Lynn, you can do it, let go of your fear, let go of it. It was as if God himself was speaking to the poor, hurt child inside of me, comforting me and yet saying with confidence, You can do it, and you know what? I did. I pulled myself over the edge of the platform and scurried to the tree trunk where I sat with my back against it and sobbed. I cried for the robbery of a childhood that never was and for the realization that there was this whole little person that had been denied expression and development. Find a counselor for suggestions.
As I climbed back down the ladder and my feet touched the familiar safety of the ground, I cried again, this time tears of joy and resolution, for all had changed within the space and time of a few feet of free floating rungs on a ladder. If you have ever found yourself wondering about a better way to help your clients experience and integrate truth, consider a trip into the wilderness. God has often used the furnace of a wilderness experience to forge his leaders, bring healing to the wounded, and prepare his servants for service. I believe that he still does.
http://www.eCounseling.com is the leading provider of online counseling and telephone counseling technologies, and exists to connect people who hurt with people who help, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. eCounseling.com was created by counselors who perceived a need for better online counseling methods. eCounseling.com now boasts a full range of distance and in-person counseling capabilities in video and text chat, HIPAA-compliant secure email, and fully searchable counselor listings, all organized strategically around the top 40 most commonly seen counseling issues. Its directors include Dr. Badshah Salamat, who practices therapy at Thrive Boston Counseling.
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