Metaphors in pastoral care and counseling : utilizing the therapeutic model of David Grove
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This paper offers a method for pastoral counselors to utilize in healing individual and corporate anxiety. The model uses the modern therapeutic technique of Dr. David Grove in conjunction with the biblical psalms of lament.
David Grove maintains that people use metaphors to describe past traumatic experiences, and that these metaphors provide the key for healing these wounds, or the "wounded child within," in the past where they first occurred. Grove's therapeutic process emphasizes careful attention to the office setting, healing the wounded child within in the past, allowing the client's use of metaphor to express the trauma, and strict regard to the "clean" language used by the therapist. Grove also contends that the wounded child within is "frozen" in time, and the therapist must help guide the client through and beyond that experience so that healing may occur. This is achieved through an u nderstanding of the information stored in the child within, the memories which describe the environment outside the child's body, and the bodily boundaries described in metaphors.
The psalms of lament provide a biblical basis to support and guide both individual and corporate metaphorical healing. These psalms first allowed the Hebrews to voice their pain to God, and through that venting to be healed. The same can be true for the believing community. The psalmist offered a plea describing the pain and suffering God's people had endured, then demanded God's grace and healing. After expressing their anxiety, the community praised God for God's goodness.
The similarities between Grove's therapeutic method and the psalms of lament deal more with form than content. Both express a desire to heal the hurts of the past, hurts that are described in metaphorical terms. Both seek consolation and justice through the evolution of metaphors within the bodily and environmental constraints. Both move beyond that pain to a place of comfort and healing.
This joint healing method may be used by pastoral counselors in both corporate and individual ministry. A congregation can benefit from expressing public lament, especially during the "dark" seasons of the church year, transitions, and losses, where it may first seem more appropriate. The structure of worship services can also place more emphasis on lament, then allow the liturgy and prayers to invite healing. Sermons may utilize metaphors to convey the suffering many experience and the healing God's love can bring. A pastoral counselor may make a powerful impact on individuals, couples and small groups by leading them through metaphorical and biblical exercises, expressing pain and working through that pain to find healing.
The church must reclaim its healing ministry. That ministry is rooted in Scripture, which still speaks to the anxiousness of people. The combined therapeutic method of David Grove and the psalms of lament offer a model for voicing that anxiety and enabling healing.