WHAT: Listening to people who are facing challenges, and helping them to find a way through their difficulties, is a great service. The opportunity to provide counselling help usually comes once the person in distress has expressed their need. If people have not yet expressed needs it is usually difficult to help them. But when they do it can be very helpful just to have someone there to talk to and who can help bring perspective and sound advice.
WHY: Counselling others reflects the sense of responsibility that we feel toward one another. It is the stronger helping the weaker or the more vulnerable. It is a Christian duty and takes faith from belief and into action. It can be costly because it is time consuming. It requires good listening skills and patience.
HOW: Media offer a variety of channels for counselling. Radio has always been a good medium especially in late-night shows. People can’t get to sleep because of some weighty challenge they are facing – relationships, health, fear, loss of income, unemployment. Phone-in programs are popular. Listeners enjoy hearing the life-stories and problems of others as well as the advice that may be given out. Social networking provides opportunity for support forums for people who are suffering, or who have loved ones who suffer with diseases of various kinds. It is that sense of community that provides the support – the knowledge that I am not alone.
BIBLICAL BASIS: We are exhorted to “Bear one another’s burdens”. Jesus set the example for this, coming alongside the outcasts, the sick and suffering, the bereaved. He always seemed to have time for people in need. More than that he was able to discern their real needs. He is our example, showing love and compassion to those who are hurting.
EXAMPLES: Counselling by radio is usually conducted via phone-in programs and talk shows. Interaction with the listening audience is the key component in these. The chats can also be continued via chat rooms on the internet where more personalised help can be given. Topics of a personal nature are more likely to be covered in these sessions and the counselee enjoys a measure of confidentiality.