It used to freak me out how interested people were in our family. I learned early on that, when people find out what Rob does for a living, they are seldom neutral or disinterested. Some want to pick his brain about their own issues. Others get nervous and make jokes about whether he’s analyzing them over dinner. A surprising number have actually sought him out as a friend, only to reveal later – when they felt safe with him – that they did so because they needed therapy. (FYI, being your friend actually disqualifies him from becoming your therapist.)
Clients are naturally curious about this person with whom they share their most intimate secrets. A few become overly-focused on him on a personal level, which is called therapeutic transference. That interest can even extend to us as his family. Many people expect our marriage and family to be idyllic, like we’re on a different level from others. If they ever got to know us, Cheetos, crumbs, and all, they would be sorely disappointed to see just how average we really are.
In reality, our family is a lot like yours. Degrees in psychology don’t change human nature. We suffer from the same conflicts, sins, and struggles as everyone else on the planet. It’s like when a doctor’s kid breaks their arm – it doesn’t heal any faster just because Dad knows the name of the bone and how to put a cast on it.
The only advantage I can think of that we might have over other families is, we know what happens when you don’t set that broken arm. Every day, Rob sees the results of letting pain, trauma, and addiction go untreated for years, and it ain’t pretty. His work reminds us to tend to problems as soon as possible, and to encourage others to do the same.
So, let’s make a deal. You don’t put us on a pedestal, and I’ll share some of the lessons we’ve learned on our thirty-year journey as a Christian counselor’s family. Hopefully, we can navigate some of the tricky spots of life together. As we go along, you’ll see that the only Counselor worth focusing on is the Holy Spirit, pointing us all to Christ.