The book focused on “connecting” with people. Dr. Larry Crabb’s point is to show that the true way to help others is not by using clever therapeutic techniques. Dr. Crabb believes “there is a power within the life of every Christian waiting to be released,” which he believes can lead to “further and deeper change,” to help people “join more intimately to the heart of Christ,” and heal “soul wounds” by allowing God’s grace to “flow freely through us to them.” From the standpoint of a counselor, showing care for someone is more than just checking on their mental well-being-it is about enjoying their presence. People must be able to feel that counselors truly care about them, which is the whole premise of “connecting.”
Dr. Crabb shared a story of his oldest son. No matter how much he would try to help his child on a psychological level, he continued his destructive pattern. One day, instead of nagging and pointing to obvious mistakes, he decided to ask him, “How can I help?” Those simple words had connected with his son, who finally felt like his father really cared about him (4). He was never the same again. Dr. Crabb stated, “When we look for the bad, we must always be looking harder for the hidden good (12).” In the midst of trials, we are to “search for the good God may be releasing (16).”
Although I enjoyed the book, I found some of the counseling suggestions to be vague. For example, in pages 16-17, Dr. Crabb presents a scenario of a couple during a counseling session. The wife snaps at the husband because she feels unappreciated by him. Instead of acknowledging her anger, probing for a psychological explanation, or expressing empathy, Dr. Crabb proposes that the “good urges” be released from the counselees. It seemed he was making the wife see things from a different perspective-not necessarily releasing “good urges.”
Counselors have been taught to be listeners and guides, but Dr. Crabb suggests that counselor and counselee “walk together as honest strugglers (99).” I agree with this suggestion to a point. I realize that it is not healthy for counselees to believe that counselors are without problems. I think that if a counselor is more honest about themselves and their vulnerability, then the counselee will not see him/herself as a “lost cause.” Part of being “real” with others is for others to know that “things” happen in the counselor’s life as well-they are not immune to Satan’s attacks. However, the counselor’s primary focus should be on the counselee’s struggle. The counselor’s struggles should not be shared on the same level as the counselee’s. I think it would be too overwhelming for the counselee to be fully subjected to the counselor’s struggle.
I found the questions on page 161 very helpful. The “think vision” questions go beyond problematic issues and raises therapeutic counseling to a higher level. The basic idea is to bathe everything in prayer and concentrate on “who that person could become (165)” by “releasing the energy of Christ.” I thought the most useful part of the book was in the appendices. These were practical information for counselors. The role of the church is examined in the context of soul care because friendships and a sense of community can heal people with “soul struggles.”
Dr. Crabb wrote, “We’ll smile at our spouses with a new kind of appreciation and kindness, and they will soften and move toward us. We’ll see people whom we know don’t like us, and we’ll sincerely wish them well without feeling self-righteous (185). He also noted, “Goodness is most fully released only when badness is first resisted (18).” He explained, “When a friend meets our meanness with kindness, something better often comes out of us (18).” This is not a new concept. He was merely stating an obvious response to kindness. In fact, this statement illustrated biblical principles: “Bless those who curse you (Luke 6)” and “Repay no one evil for evil…live peaceably with all men (Romans 12).”
Dr. Crabb has found a way to apply biblical principles to the everyday life of a believer. “Connecting” is a way to build a nurturing and supportive community. If all Christians were to incorporate the simple concept of “blessing those who curse you,” then the “connecting” process will take place. If people did this, then soul healing will no longer be dependent on “mental health professional.” This book was a good resource for motivating people to go beyond themselves in reaching out to others with Christ-like compassion.
Copyright © 2007 M. Teresa Trascritti