I’m not a religious person, but I benefited a great deal by reading Pope Francis’ encyclical (letter), released last week, explaining his views on what we need to do to save this planet and better our lives. He suggests that the two are connected. If you haven’t read the encyclical, I highly recommend it. You can access it here. It is highly supportive of our roles as counselors and complimentary of people who go to therapy.
Those of us involved in the world of counseling and psychology will feel supported by the Pope’s words because he advocates the need for self-examination. He writes,
True wisdom, as the fruit of self-examination, dialogue and generous encounter between persons, is not acquired by a mere accumulation of data which eventually leads to overload and confusion, a sort of mental pollution.
When the Pope suggests that true wisdom comes as a result of self-examination, dialogue and generous encounter between persons, he is extolling the virtues of the therapeutic relationship. The therapeutic relationship is based upon encouraging self-examination and dialogue, and done properly it is generous encounter.
Pope Francis indirectly acknowledges the value of being a counselor because we help people come into . . .
. . . direct contact with pain, the fears and the joys of others and the complexity of their personal experiences.
He is explaining that pain cannot be avoided. It is part of life. But when viewed in a certain context pain opens us to new opportunities for growth and healing. As counselors, we use our client’s pain to fuel their growth. And this is the only kind of growth the Pope supports—the growth of our souls. Much of the encyclical is a condemnation of other forms of growth, such as economic growth and technological growth.
Instead of trying to solve our problems via market growth, he places emphasis on “real relationships,” which he then contrasts to . . .
. . . a type of internet communication which enables us to choose or eliminate relationships at whim, thus giving rise to a new type of contrived emotion which has more to do with devices and displays than with other people and with nature.
I found his letter to be inspiring and thought provoking, an invitation to look more deeply at our role as stewards—of this planet and of our relationships. Click here to read my longer article about how to live wisely, think deeply, and love generously.
At the bottom of that article you can access Pope Francis’ encyclical if you would like to read it for yourself, which I highly recommend.