Maybe you, like me, never said, “I want to be a biblical counselor when I grow up.” I didn’t know they existed. I wouldn’t have known what one was if you’d told me. But now I know who they are. They’re real people in real skin with real struggles that come alongside other real people in real skin with real struggles. Biblical counselors are Jesus in our midst, individuals God has gifted to teach and equip those who are hurting and seeking change within the local church.After acting as an advocate for a friend who sought biblical counseling, opportunities to counsel continued. During this time, my husband expanded his business and created an office I could use any way I chose. Prayerfully, I set it up for writing and counseling, but could find nothing (nothing!) online under the heading “design biblical counseling office.” If you are a pastor, you’re no doubt equipped, but if you’re a counselor-in-training, you’ve probably wondered how to create an effective place to meet and interact with counselees.
- If possible, separate your meeting space from your living space.
- Decorate with appealing colors and art work.
- Make yourself at home, but keep it clean.
- Think about your counseling style and function: would you prefer meeting at a table with chairs or in easy chairs with a coffee table? Keep it comfortable; choose furniture that accommodates different shapes and sizes (i.e. women feel vulnerable if their feet don’t touch the floor).
- Invest in scent-appeal. Keeping a consistent scent will help counselees feel at home and link learning from one session to the next.
- Place a white board within easy reach of your chair.
- Strategically place a clock on the wall behind your counselees.
- Offer water or coffee on arrival and/or as needed.
- Provide Kleenex and pens within reach of counselees.
- Place a wastebasket near the door.
- Provide Wi-Fi if possible.
- Use white noise if you’re within earshot of others.
- Keep files: professional and personal. Create separate filing systems. Include diagrams and hand-outs at the ready for counselees.
- Keep books well-organized and within reach. You will need them.
- Be prepared to look up Scripture references in guides books or online.
Notes:- I’ve counseled over the phone, chasing children, doing laundry and sitting in the kitchen with a cup of coffee, but a home presents a sense of obligation for me to host and the visitor to be polite. It’s difficult to work around intrusions and distractions. This can be easily overcome, but must be intentional.
- As much as possible, make the room appealing. Avoid a sterile, clinical environment. People like to have something to look at when they’re thinking or taking time to respond. Strategically provide art or Scripture that redirects or refocuses their attention. You will spend more time in this room than anyone, so choose things that encourage and refocus your thoughts as well.
- My office has three easy chairs with a round coffee table because I counsel women and welcome advocates. You may choose to seat a different number of people or meet at a table with chairs. The choice is a matter of function and preference.
- Most often I usher counselees to the chairs on the far side of the room and sit closest to the door. On the wall beside that chair is a dry-erase board which is very helpful for diagrams, explanations, Scripture verses or interactive discussion. Across from my chair is a clock which allows me to be polite and punctual. Keeping my word means ending appointments on time.
- The most important function of my office is at-homeness and comfort. I want counselees to feel safe, wanted, prepared for, and listened-to. It should look, feel and smell like somewhere they want to be.
- Have a place to keep files. Not only will you want to keep duplicates of counseling hand-outs and articles, you will want a protected place to keep files of counselees. You may find it helpful to keep Bible study materials, personal Bible journals, and professional files as well. I have found it best to keep separate file systems, organized alphabetically by topic or by the books of the Bible.
But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.
And on some have compassion, making a distinction; but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.
Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling,
And to present you faultless
Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy,
To God our Savior,
Who alone is wise,
Be glory and majesty,
Dominion and power,
Both now and forever.
(Jude 1:20-25 NKJV)