An Emotionally Focused Approach to Counselling Christian Clients

The Lost Voice of the Heart

In a book called ‘The Sacred Romance’, the heart is described as the ‘wellspring of the human soul’, from which flows all true caring, all meaningful work, all real worship and all sacrifice. The premise of the book is that we have lost touch with our hearts, leaving this inner part of ourselves behind in the rush to live ‘external’ lives, in the identity we’ve carved for ourselves. Another book describes the same idea: ‘Our original shimmering self gets buried so deep we hardly live out of it at all…rather, we learn to live out of all the other selves which we are constantly putting on and taking off like coats and hats against the world’s weather’. The rich use of metaphor by each of these Christian writers moved me to think more deeply about my work with Christian clients. This paper considers that some people are troubled by pain in their lives and have difficulty dealing with that pain because they have learned to silence the deepest yearnings, the voice of their heart. In particular, the paper looks at counselling clients for whom Christian faith holds a central place. The writings of Christian therapists are used to highlight the difficulties sometimes faced when such clients are blocked off from themselves. The paper goes on to propose that Emotionally Focused Therapy offer them ways to bring them into contact with their ‘inner life’, the life of the heart.

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