Counseling is not a shoulder to cry on.
Counseling is not time to vent your feelings.
Counseling is not empathy time.
All these things may happen in a counseling session, and they aren't bad, or to be avoided.
But the purpose of counseling is change, by and according to God's word.
I have noticed this lately in my own counseling. I have been advising people that if you have children you should expect child problems. If you are married there will be marriage problems. If you are a young man, certain other problems arise. In this world you will have trouble, and all that.
And, if you counsel people, there will be counseling problems! I have gone along blissfully for a while thinking that counseling should be like preaching: I dish out the Word, and the people absorb it, nod, and go home. Nay, nay. Counseling is needed because people have gotten into a pattern of ungodly living, and built up a resistance to change. So when the counselor comes along with the very purpose of change according to God's Word, he is set up for...
Counseling problems. Dismantling defenses is sometimes the counselor's call. People don't want to change, often. I have been called and accused of all kinds of things in trying to counsel people. Oddly enough, people come for help and then resist the help. They come wanting change, oblivious that they need to change.
This is the way of the cross. I just read John 19 in Bible study with a group of guys. Jesus gives up His life, in the face of hostility and accusation from the very people He is trying to help. Will mom lay down her life for her disobedient children again today? Will dad help with the dishes and the kids tonight, even when his wife and children complain more than they appreciate?
For judgment Jesus came into the world, to bring every person to a decision point. Is Jesus sent from God? Will I believe Him? Will I try to live for Him? Will I serve others, even when those others hurt me?
Good counseling should bring us to this crisis, this decision. Do I think I need help? Am I willing to submit to Biblical help? What should I do differently? And all through the process, sin keeps arising. "No, wait a minute. The problem isnt me, it's her!" We usually say that right when we see what we need to change, and how hard it is going to be. So we go back to the crisis.
Am I in need of change? Who of us is not, this side of glory?