Friday, November 25, 2011
Renewing The Spirit At A Counseling Conference
A week ago I had the opportunity to attend the Texas Counseling Professional Growth conference in Fort Worth, Texas. I have mentioned before, one reason I enjoy conferences is the life long learning experience of looking at new practices and theories. This year was a little different in that as the 2011 President of the Texas Career Development Association, my primary place at the conference was to be at our division booth and promote our association. This meant attending very little of the conference.
With Thanksgiving this week I do look back at that week and am thankful for the learning I was able to partake in. I am thankful God has given us minds to learn and grow through reading and learning from others. I will share in this blog post two learning sessions the deeply affected me.
They both occurred on Friday of the conference. The first one was very early. With coffee in hand, I went to the Counselor Prayer breakfast at 6:30 am. There were not many present that early in the morning, but the presenter shared insight on the importance of prayer that I felt was very timely in my life. She discussed the concept of “Centering Prayer” . This is meditative and reflective prayer of quietly reflecting for example on Galations 5:22& 23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. “. Or you can pray a prayer of worship centered on an attribute of God. She mentioned this moves our prayers away from whiney, gimme, gimme prayers. Not that praying for people and things is wrong but the centered prayer I believe quiets our hearts and calms us to hear from God.
She used the analogy that life with its chaos, fear, sadness, and despair is like a hurricane. Centered prayer allows us to be at peace in the “Eye of the Storm”. The eye of the hurricane is where the air is calm and quiet. Having lived in an area that had hurricanes I could appreciate the analogy. Prayer does have that characteristic to take our spirits away from the rages of the storm to a quiet place in God’s presence.
After that early morning session I also was able to attend the Keynote speaker session with Dr. Bradford Keeney . Dr. Keeney is presently Professor of Marriage and Family Therapy and Hanna Spyker Eminent Scholars Chair in Education, University of Louisiana, Monroe campus. Over the years he has studied healers, shamans, and medicine men around the world in a variety of cultures.
In his presentation Dr. Keeney rightly pointed out that modern Psychology and Counseling relies too much on techniques and theories and neglects what he called the complexity and mystery of the Divine. The sterile secular mindset tries to explain everything and puts everything into categories and stereotypes. He emphasized Counselors can learn from the ancient healers. Be open to the Spirit. That we gotta have a song in our soul. He brought up the importance of rhapsodic expression of poetry and music. In doing this he went into a beatnik type or rap like poetry expression of his message. I found drawn to his creativeness in his presentation. To help people we do need to tap into creativity and realize that counseling has an art form element to it.
A couple of points that made an impression on me was his mentioning of the Irving Mills song, “It Don’t Mean A Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing” . Click on the title to hear a video of it. Dr. Keeney was trying to get across that the healing process is helping people re-energize their lives. Not living ok existence, but the liveliness and energy and power of the Spirit which is found in the analogy of jazz and spiritual music. Keeping with his music analogy he presented the idea that Counseling needs more song and feeling. Don’t just interpret a technique, instead swing and rap with the individual needs of the person seeking help.
Dr. Keeney at another point began to sing the children spiritual song. “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.” This was a reminder that our purpose in our lives, and in our practice as Counselors is to make the world a brighter place. Life is not about getting things and living complacent ok lives. Instead life is about giving and shining light on the darkness in people’s lives.
So although at this conference I spent quite a bit of time at our TCDA booth the sessions I was able to attend impacted my life in challenging how I can shine my light and be more centered in the spiritual aspect of my life.
Reflection: How are you shining your light in your world to make it a better place? Do you have an inner song that inspires your life?