To round out or week on reasons counselee’s don’t change, yesterday I began to look at effective question asking.
Through effective questioning we want to expose and discern the thoughts of the counselee. Thoughts are often misrouted and mislabeled as feelings. Ask questions such as, “What does that mean” to clarify data when a counselee says they feel like they deserved a job promotion that went to someone. Effective questions will help the counselee to understand that their thoughts about the one who received the promotion (i.e. the values and judgments they have made about that person and their work performance) have created an emotional response in the body of sorrow, anger, or self-pity.
Effective questions will expose the belief system of the counselee- which is all-important because we act upon what we, believe to be true.
If a person believes they were entitled to that promotion or they believe they were treated unfairly they will begin to act out of that set of beliefs. They may become sullen and or angry, or even depressed as they contemplate the “injustice” against them. Their job performance may begin to suffer as they slack off or show up late or begin to call in sick. Their beliefs may be 100% incorrect about the situation, but that doesn’t matter, their actions will follow their beliefs.
Effective questions will expose the desires of the counselee –we want to know what the counselee’s hopes and dreams are. Not because we are nosy but because the Bible tells us that where our treasure is, our heart will also be there!
Desires are tremendous indicators of an idolatrous heart. A woman or man who desires respect and is willing to sin to get it is revealing an idol of the heart. A person who desires to be thin and is willing to starve themselves to the point of serious medical complications or even death is revealing an idol of the heart. Desires are not wrong or sinful by themselves; but when they rise to the place of leading us to sin to satisfy our flesh they become sinful.
Effective questions will expose inconsistencies in what a counselee says he believes and what he does- a man may say he believes he has peace about leaving his wife and family yet he is seeking counseling for his issue of depression.
We tend to be selective in how we look at our actions in relation to our belief system.
Asking effective questions will lead into the core issues of why he or she is coming for counseling and they provoke thinking and reasoning within the heart of a person. They should direct the counselee toward discerning the truth about himself and his circumstances.
When good questions are asked you will see they will be used by the Holy Spirit to produce conviction in the heart and a sense of personal responsibility in the counselee. This is why we don’t simply tell the counselee what sin issues we see in them. Telling someone something shifts the onus for recognition from them to you. They can disagree with your opinion, blameshift, or disregard it. But, when questions aimed at the heart of the counselee are used by the Holy Spirit, conviction results and grace abounds as they come to a biblical conclusion about their sin and recognize their responsibility in the situation.
We want to know the hidden or undiscovered facts; the thing the counselee wants us to know in some cases but is afraid to tell us- and the hidden facts. Effective questioning will reveal the hidden motives of the heart, and will reveal things that may even be hidden from the counselee due to the deceitfulness of their own heart. We are very effective at self-deception and our hearts continually lie to us. Therefore it is at times necessary to be shaken up in the process of examination by self or by others.
It is important that your questions be relevant and productive. Be sure you are asking because you believe the information is necessary not because you are curious. Ask questions that will go toward helping them resolve the problem. When the counselee is not making progress it might very well be that you are not effective in this critical area of biblical counseling and discipleship.