I thought it would be timely to do a blog post in light of the NCAA tournament. No, it’s not a grief post for Duke or Missouri fans. It’s not even a stress-idolatry post for those who get way too intense about their bracket. It is a post about fundamentals.

What usually happens to the losing team in a big game? They get out of their comfort zone. They get rattled. And, they lose their fundamentals. Players start taking bad shots, forcing passes, forgetting their defensive assignments, and commit silly fouls. No, I’m not talking about your favorite team; try to focus and stay with me.

The same is true for counselors (or anyone in a helping role). When we get uncomfortable, we tend to forget our fundamentals.

We try to force a situation to fit a scenario we’re familiar with, instead of continuing to ask good questions.

We begin to view the counselee with suspicion because they make us feel uncomfortable and our doubt becomes contagious instead of our hope.

We classify people and explain people by the group they belong to (i.e., male, female, race, age, socio-economic status, etc…) instead of getting to know them as a person.

We become preoccupied with our own confusion and uncertainty instead of remaining engaged in the conversation.

We offer generic advice and clichés because we don’t know what else to say instead of being a good friend during perplexing time.

The problem is we scream at the television, but we excuse ourselves. We can see the college kids choke, but we are blind to the changes that go on within us.

We begin to write historical fiction in our minds to make the situation fit our assessment.

Our negative view (i.e., sick, liar, etc…) of the other person becomes solidified.

We reinforce our stereotypes and prejudices.

Continued self-preoccupation and insecurity makes us a less effective listener with other people.

We replay in our mind the reasons why we think what we said was best.

So what is our take away? The most fundamentally sound team usually wins. The same is true in counseling (or any helping relationship). When we stick to the fundamentals of helping, God is honored and people are helped.


Ask good questions

Avoid stereotyping

View people as more like you than different from you

Don’t get lost in your own insecurities

Wait to speak until your words can be situation-specific

If we stay fundamentally sound, our brackets may still be busted, but our relationships won’t be broken.