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Equipping the Saints to Counsel - Lesson 8

by Dr. Ray Self



Crisis and Trauma Counseling

Click the play button to begin video lesson and follow along with the class notes below the video window. When you complete this video, click the "Lesson Assignment" button at the bottom of this page to open the lesson assignment.

Crisis and Trauma Counseling

A crisis or trauma can be caused by the loss of anything.

Grief is intense emotional suffering caused by a loss:

  • The external sign of grief is mourning
  • The loss of innocence, loss of childhood, loss of joy, loss of a season, loss of a valuable object, and of course the death of a significant person will cause grief.

We need to develop our own special abilities as a counselor. The Spirit of the Lord is on you, and He is willing to use your gifts and natural talents.

When a traumatic event takes place we may need to help people make the tough decisions:

  • Common sense wisdom may be a difficult task for the person who is in crisis.
  • You should not make decisions but assist in making decisions for another responsible adult.
  • You can guide him or her with ideas or statements such as, “This is what I would do in this situation.”

The first step is to acknowledge that the crisis has taken place and to get all involved to acknowledge that a crisis has taken place.

People in denial will make poor or no decisions and may have strange behaviors that are unsuitable for the occasion.

Denial will cause a person not to seek help.

Denial will keep powerful emotions locked away which will eat at the soul of the person, like a cancer.

Hurting people must be allowed to express their feelings:

  • Venting through words can be a healthy release of pent up emotions.
  • Some emotions may seem not to fit the situation, because they have come from past memories or hurts that have surfaced.

Our goal is to help our counselee come to a healthy resolution:

  • You will know when resolution has taken place because your counselee is moving forward in a healthy way.
  • There is a season to deal with yesterday and a season to move into tomorrow.

The word of God has the answers needed when it is applied appropriately. Be careful how you use the word of God so as to not cause condemnation.

Crisis counselors must be compassionate:

  • Be ready to experience some distress yourself.
  • Have the ability to identify with the problem.
  • Instruct your counselee to go ahead and cry.
  • Empathy is the projection of ones personality or feelings onto another.
  • To be good counselors we must be able to understand what our counselees are going through.

We need not only our emotions but our minds:

  • Listen and discern the heart of the counselee.
  • The crisis counselor must have the desire to alleviate pain.
  • The leading question is, “What has been done to this point?”
  • Explain that you are there to help and ask, “What can I do?”
  • Do not counsel when you are not wanted.
  • Remember the old saying, "The difference between a guest and a pest is an invitation."

Allow the person to express grief:

  • Grief should be kept within normal limits.
  • Grief is used by God for healing of the soul, but it can be a hindrance if it goes too long.
  • Old dreams may have to be buried.
  • Life can take traumatic turns.
  • It is important for you to facilitate healing, as soon as possible, in order to close in demonic doorways.

God restores vision, but it may not be what a person originally thought it would be because of the traumatic event. Jesus is the healthy resolution and all Christian counselors should be ministers of Christ.

Grief Stages


Any sudden disturbance or irritation of the mind through a great surprise is shock.

  • Shock affects the emotional, physical and spiritual.
  • When there is shock, check for damage and be ready to intervene if necessary.
  • God may be blamed.
  • Pray for wisdom in this area of counseling.
  • We need to monitor the person who is in this stage.
  • One main goal is to get them to press in to God.


  • Everyone goes through a certain amount of denial.
  • Denial is used to attempt to protect the brain from pain.

Anger and Questioning

  • This is the area where we need to help the counselee the most.
  • Anger can easily give a place to Satan.
  • Angry people will accuse everyone.
  • In the final stage of accusation a person will blame himself.
  • A person who is angry is gullible and can fall into error.
  • Anger causes resentment, which can lead to bitterness.
  • Questioning can lead to the doubt of God’s authority.
  • Trying to understand is an attempt to feel secure in ourselves and is not trusting God.
  • When? Question of God’s love. What? Question of God’s purpose. Where? Does God exist?
  • You do not have the answers!


  • Short term may be normal, long term very damaging.
  • There is a normal time for depression, which is different from the disease of depression (bi-polar I, bi-polar II, dystemia, etc.).


  • This is the beginning stage of acceptance.
  • Reasoning and logic are restored.
  • Trust starts to grow.
  • Anger begins to subside.


  • This is a part of my history.
  • This is reality, it is over, I am ready to move forward.

Philippians 3:13 - Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead.

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