Friday Counseling Issues: Say the Truth!

Another prompt from Kathleen Duncan:

If you could force all of your clients to do one thing, what would it be?
Any counselor who has been in the business for a while develops a sense of when the client is fudging the truth. There are some reasons why people do this, and not all of those reasons are about making other people look bad.
One reason people lie is that the truth is just too painful.  They have spent years blocking it, stuffing it down, denying it. That’s a hard habit to break.  It shows up the most often in those who have been sexually abused as children.   Telling the truth about what happened to them is very hard, partly because they have been conditioned for years to cover it up.
Well-meaning but uninformed people have told these victims a lot of lies.  They have told them, “Just put it behind you now.  Quit feeling sorry for yourself.  Don’t talk about it and  eventually you’ll forget it.”
The victim reaches a point of not really knowing what was truth and what is false. He doubts his own memories, believing he is making things up because he has been told he’s doing so just to get attention.
The truth is, very few children are making it up.  It does happen, but it’s rare.  There are other behaviors that go along with sexual abuse symptoms that don’t show up if the child is just making up the story.
Other reasons people lie?  Well, some folks, by nature or nurture or both, really believe they have to be right every single time. By hook or by crook, they will win. If they have to lie to do so, it’s not their fault. if other people woud only see that they are wrong, always, then the counselee wouldn’t have to lie.  This kind of thinking can be part of a sociopathic person’s make-up. It also can be indicative of an abuser, who always blames his behavior on the person he’s just beaten into submission.
Some people are just so mortified by what they’ve done that they can’t bear to own up to it. They want me to fix them without really understanding what I’m dealing with.
Some people  want me to fix everyone else in their lives so they can stop lying.
Some want me to tell them their lies are justified.  Sometimes, maybe they are.
Remember that the next time a lie slides out of your mouth, and quit being so quick to judge.
I will never condemn a mother, for instance, for lying to an abusive husband to protect her child.  What I will do is encourage her to remove herself and her child from the situation so that she doesn’t have to lie any more.  I cannot condemn her for saving her child from a terrible beating.
I will never condemn anyone for lying to protect his family from a murderous intruder. You do whatever you have to do, and worry later about the ethics of not telling the whole truth.
I will never condemn anyone in a war or terroristic situation for lying to protect himself or others.  I will take you to the story of Rahab in the Bible, who lied to protect the two Israeli men who were hidden in her dwelling.  She did the right thing.  She was never condemned by God for her lie, and she was also a part of the lineage of Jesus Christ.
I realize these are extreme examples that most of us will not face.  Some of the people I’ve worked with have been in such extreme dangers, and they struggle with lies they may have told  to protect themselves and others. You may not agree with me, and that’s fine, but I always try to encourage these people that they did what they had to do and they are not to be blamed.
Getting back to the counseling office, the importance of telling the whole truth is simply this: I cannot help you if you are not telling me the whole truth. It will eventually come out anyway, and then you will feel embarrassed for not having told me sooner. Sometimes we lie by omission, you know.  We simply leave out what we don’t want to put words to, hoping that by not saying those words, the truth will disappear.  That never works.
You can’t give a seamstress all your measurements except one and then expect her to hand you a perfect result. There’s going to be someplace that doesn’t fit quite right, and you’ll never be satisfied with the garment. Same goes in counseling.  I’ll do the best I can with what you give me, but if you leave anything out, the fix will never be completely satisfactory.
Believe me!

8 thoughts on “Friday Counseling Issues: Say the Truth!

  1. That’s awesome! Great post! I hope you don’t mind my thinking out loud on your space but maybe you can help me out.

    It’s a toughie because sometimes people lie – I lied to myself – because I thought it was keeping me alive at the time. For example, lying to myself about my addiction meant I could keep doing it until it was safe for me not to do it. In my opinion, a person generally drinks or abuses chemicals/behaviors because reality is so unbearable that they believe they have to do it to survive. Meanwhile doing quite a lot of damage to myself.

    And what about the person who has been sexually or otherwise abused, whose psyche is dependent upon their lying to themselves until they are in a safe place to say it. In both instances how do we/I know you are a safe person to say these things to? The process of opening up and remembering these things can cause the same symptoms and even flashbacks that are just as harmful as they were with the actual abuse.

    On the other hand, lying extends the length of time it takes until healing can begin. That’s never a good thing.

    My point, though, is that denial, especially when it’s unconscious, serves its purpose for as long as it has to.

    What’s ironic is that for me, pastoral counseling is inadequate because they don’t understand mental illness or agree with the need for medication. They know I’m on medication but they don’t know how to help me with them.

    But lay counseling is inadequate because they don’t understand my faith or how God works – they don’t believe in God the same way I do. They know that I rely on Jesus but they don’t know how to help me follow Him.

    So I end up less than transparent with either provider. It is very sad and I haven’t figured out how to get what I need in order to be free. 😦 I am very frustrated.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for a thought-frovoking comment.

      First, I see by your name that you have Bipolar Disorder. I’m sorry. It’s very difficult, both for the client and for those who are close to the client. Medication is essential, and anyone who tells you all you have is a sin problem, just get right with God, is living in the Dark Ages where ever mental illness was attributed to demon possession. Don’t go to those people. They will not help you, but only make you feel guilty and worthless.

      Your best bet is a born-again, experienced Christian counselor with the appropriate training. You can find us througha variety of sites, including Focus on the Family, the American Association of Christian Counselors, or the New Life Clinic.

      You must stay connected with your psychiatrist for your medication and reviews. In my experience, medication for Bipolar Disorder needs to be tweaked every now and then as body chemistry changes with aging, menopause, etc. There is no one-size fits-all.

      With appropriate therapy, the lying, addictions, etc. can be relegated to their proper place. I am a certified EMDR provider, and I have used EMDR therapy with my bipolar clients with differing degrees of success.

      I wish I could tell you that there is a perfect, permanent solution. I can’t. It’s difficult to treat, difficult to have. The grace of God IS sufficient, to meet all our needs, but nowhere are we promised that He will remove the thorns in our flesh, whatever they may be.

      Please fee free to stay in touch, and thanks again for stopping by.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you for taking the time to respond! I am with you all the way. By the way, I did do a 2 year experiment going off the meds, based on what I had come to believe God wanted me to do (ahem, after a number of pastoral counseling sessions) – it failed dramatically. If you read my first 2 blog posts you will see how (Land of Confusion I and II) Anyway that was enough to convince me. (shudder) Again thanks for your feedback 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Linda, I remember making up a lie to escape from an abuser in my childhood. It’s never entered my mind to feel guilty about it. And I avoided the person like the plague after that. I appreciate your healthy well-balanced approach.

    Blessings ~ Wendy ❀

    Liked by 1 person

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