Unlike some traditional views of counseling, we do not believe that the most sustainable, life-changing environment is one-on-one with a professional that you do not see outside of scheduled visits. There are limitations to the impact that can be had on an individual because the relationship only exists in a certain setting that is not replicated daily, throughout the week when things are hard. The primary context for counseling is within a community of mission. This means the people that you are doing life with every day. These are the people that know
you and that God has ordained to be around you in specific seasons of life. Ideally, these are the people that are seeking to love you by helping you apply the gospel to the heart underlying issues that come up in everyday life; this is what we believe the author of Hebrews meant when he said “as long as it is called today, encourage one another so that none of you fall away or become hardened with an evil unbelieving heart.” We ask those that come for help to bring along someone that is in their everyday life to a session or two as their advocate.
Reasons for Advocacy
Having someone from the normal context of life present when a person is going through a a challenging time reminds them that there are people in the fight with them. They are not alone, despite what they may feel. The advocate model allows us to demonstrate physically what we believe conceptually.
There can be additional perspective and insight from someone that knows the person struggling far better than the counselor. It may also be that this advocate can articulate things that they have observed or seen in the person seeking counsel that may not be apparent even to themselves.
An advocate enables a continuity of care to remain, even after the professional counseling relationship has ended. Now there is someone with them in their day-to-day life helping to apply the things that were processed during the time in counseling.
Advocacy allows us to equip lay ministers for ministry. Our hope is that advocates will take what they learn through this model and see themselves as gospel counselors for themselves and their community in the future – this shift will replant community as the primary context for counseling.