Pastoral counselling is a very challenging ministry. The book “Families in Crisis: Pastoral Care and Family Counselling Models”; is one of the most vital ministries book in the church. Proposing New Family Models Article is written by Rev. Dr Phanenmo Kath, who is an Associate Professor of Pastoral Counselling and Psychology at Eastern Theological College, Jorhat, Assam.
He is an ordained Baptist Minister from Nagaland. He received his BD, M.Th and D.Th degrees from the Senate of Serampore University. The book is Published by Christian World Imprints (11 January 2021). It has 186 pages.
The purpose of the book is to rich out cultural repertoire of correlates in family system and values to derive pastoral counselling models. However, Retrieving to the past is not always a regression development and productive. The past and present are elements of the continuum of residing. Another purpose of the book is to get immense help to the pastors in their ministry.
B. Body of the Text:
PROPOSING NEW FAMILY COUNSELLING MODELS
Some of the proposed models are not absolutely new, because some of the concepts have been used in one way or the other. Research has suggested them purely in the context of the Naga family, taking into consideration the social, cultural, religious, and ethnic uniqueness of Naga families. They are the following:
i. Effective Communication Model
Effective Communication is most important for maintaining healthy relationship. The family has faced difficulty and satisfaction affected when there is no proper communication. The goal of family counselling is to increase effective communication where a family has deficits in this regards.
Naga families hardly have time for sharing, fellowship, and close association; it is imperative on the part of the church to educate its members on the importance of family constant interaction and open communication. Love is expressed when the family members care enough to take the time to listen carefully to one another. Often the family counsellor needs to teach listening skills in communicating thoughts and emotions. In this highly individualistic age, it is observed that members of the Naga families rarely have time to share.
ii. Gender Sensitive Model
Gender difference refers to the role, responsibilities, and privileges enjoyed by men and women in society. Naga society is patriarchal in nature, in spite of many protection and rights sanctioned for the women. Most of the decisions for the family are taken by their male counterpart.
As a result family life is affected with one sided (male oriented) approach. Counselling the family with the lenses of gender equality would be a worth-while attempt in family counselling, says Dr. Ravi Agrawal .
iii. Correcting Excessive Individualism Model
Enmeshment can be seen as two circles right on top of one another. Some families maintain a facade of adjustment by avoiding all close contact. In such a family, the counselor’s goal would be to develop true mutuality. Counselors using this model can help Naga families to be more inclusive; and aware of the need of other members by creating a sense of interdependence.
iv. Individual Family Counselling
Individual Family Counselling model is useful and relevant for families. Therefore, Psychologist proposes individual family counselling as part of counselling the family. Some families are not comfortable discussing their personal problems with others.
Addressing each member in the family would require time and devotion; yet to get a positive outcome family counsellor needs to focus on each member of the family. The specific and goal-oriented focus is taken into serious consideration as a desirable outcome in an individual family.
v. Couple Counselling
In most family counselling, the couple (husband and wife) plays an important role. The success of the family to a large extent depends on the couple.
The family therapist’s role is to act as a coach in guiding the couple toward a meaningful life. A healthy couple produces a healthy functional family. If needed be regular couple counseling is initiated to further strengthen family relationships.
vi. Media Awareness Model
In today’s context, Mass media is a very important part of life. If it is used for the right purpose it enhances the effectiveness of life. Naga families who were once considered to have strong beliefs in family values; and uphold the family ethos and close ties are in a transition period. In the recent past, only radio and newspapers along with hardly two three national television channels were accessible by both rural and urban families in Nagaland.
But today, hardly any village is without connection of cable (satellite) TV, latest magazines, internet connection, smart mobile etc.; which promote individualism and personalized lifestyle. So, Churches, counsellors and educators must create awareness.
vii. Couples Group Counselling
Couples group therapy combines the principles of subsystems theory and group dynamics into a format for working with couples. Ian Alger and Peggy Papp are the main proponents of this model. Three to four couples comprise the optimal size group. Careful evaluation should be made of the appropriateness of a couple for group treatment. In this case, the counselling team is made up one male one female; so that both the gender could be effectively addressed.
There is ample opportunity for the churches today, to be fully engaged and participate in the life of the family; especially the married couple whom the church has solemnized. For eg. Families with alcoholism or substance abuse could be grouped together, so that their real problem is appropriately resolved. More than ever before, the need for couple counseling has been felt among the Nagas families.
viii. Family Networking Model
The family networking model focuses on the natural and continuous relationship system of persons as individuals or in various groupings. Especially, there are Six distinct phases in the family Networking Model, including Retribalization, Polarization, Mobilization, Depression, Breakthrough & Exhaustion – Elation. These phases happen in a recurring cycle and are present regardless of the frequency or duration of the network intervention process and even tend to repeat themselves within the course of a single session.
In the Retribalization phase, the family calls together the network members, providing the setting while the intervention team is responsible for explaining the rationale and significance of the network meeting. A problem-solving explanation in which the difficulty is redefined in terms of the functioning of the social network is utilized, and a blueprint for the different phases to occur is given to the entire network.
In addition, the intervention team must reduce tension and promote a feeling through encounter-type experiences aimed at making the network visible and rebuilding ties or bonds between members. Using this model may create interest among the participating families. When various families are brought together, they enriched each other by sharing their experiences.
One of the effective tools in family counselling is learning from people’s life experiences. It is expected that learning through observation and practical sessions with another family could help families gain new insights.
ix. Group Family Counselling
Group family counselling is characterized by the application of the principles of group counselling to the treatment of family; and thus in this instance, it is the underlying theory that distinguishes the therapy.
Depending on the receptiveness of the participating families group family counselling could be organized. Especially in the context of a tribal community where socializing is rather a frequent events; this model of family counselling might be successful.
THE ROLE OF THE CHURCH IN CARING THE FAMILY
The church acts as a caring and healing community. If there is any place where broken, strayed, and confused people can find themselves refuge; the church should be that place where families and individuals can find true meaning and purpose in life.
Religious rites associated with birth, marriage, and death continue to be modes of care that enable individuals; and families to live through the stress that usually accompanies change and loss. The recent development of the family systems perspective has introduced new approaches to the care of individuals and families.
The Naga tribal churches have access to large masses of people during conferences, jubilee, and other such gatherings. The church can impart the family values and principles during such events; so that the entire members are made responsible for caring for the family of God.
One of the effective ways of helping the family is through home visitation by the church team. Where there is a breakdown in family life it is important to have some way of knowing what has gone wrong and to help them to regain their problem-solving abilities. Many couples from dysfunctional families do not feel free to share their problems for counselling.
In such cases, home visitation can be a better alternative, so that the pastoral support team can guide and support the families in need. Family Enrichment Programmes. Family enrichment programs designed to help families for better functioning and effective relationship.
It focuses mainly on helping families to identify and develop their unused strengths and also to enhance their communication. This may improve the quality of family life and successful family relationships. Biblical Guidance for Good Christian Family.
The Bible provides guidelines for good relations within the family. Regarding the teachings in the Bible Apostle Paul says they are written down to instructs: The first requirement for the Christian family is to have a true relationship with Jesus Christ. One of the ways to do so is to be in touch with the word of God in the Bible.
In this challenging time, the Naga families need to nurture with the word of God, so that means family life is experienced by all. The biblical model of Parent-children Relationship. Children need loving discipline. » Children are to honor their parents. Raising Godly children in today’s society is not easy.
God promised that if you «train up a child in the way he should go when he is old he will not depart from it». It is important for the family to take some time out to sit down as a family and study the word of God. As a result, the following could be achieved..
Family Bible study will help families grow close, and stay close. In the favorable atmosphere of family Bible study; every family member need to encourage to share and reveals oneself; their sadness, their discouragement, their hopes, and aspirations, above all their experiences of Christ. Starting this simple tradition is a great way to ensure that family will always stay together. It will open up channels of communication.
In that atmosphere favorable for conversation, the time of family Bible study also provides an opportunity for children to open up and ask questions that they would not have felt comfortable asking in a larger group. Only, recently, however, we have begun to explore the ways in which the whole human history might be told in terms of household events.
The history of Israel is often carried by family stories. Although the continuity of the church as the new Israel is not dependent on family lineage, the early Christian community is often described in family metaphors. The Bible everywhere assumes the significance of the family as a context for criticism and care even though its importance is modified by the claims of discipleship.
The church has sought throughout its history to establish and maintain the sanctity of the home. It has taught that the family is the vehicle for God’s continual creation and rule.
THE ROLE OF PASTORAL CARE
The analysis result reveals that there is an urgent need for Pastoral care for the Naga families. If there is anything lacking in the Naga society, it is the pastoral care aspect that needs to be provided in all the Naga Churches and society. The word «care» expresses concerns and the word «Pastoral» gives direction to that concern.
Healing is an indispensable part of caring ministry. Today Naga families need healing from various problems. They need to be restored to functional wholeness from impaired family relationships.
Naga families need to be sustained in their family relationship and spiritually in their relationship with God. The pastoral team must comfort at all times when healing and remedy are not possible. Proper guidance about the meaning of family life among the Naga families is needed.
There are times when they want to decide what to do in their life, so they search from the pastor to guide them. ” Nurturing is known in the historical expression as “training new members in the Christian life, or religious education. Reconciling is the process of rebuilding or mending the strained relationships between people in the family and society and between humans and God.
Lartey has added two more important cardinals, Liberating and Empowering, as an essential part of pastoral caring ministry. Even among the so-called matured Christians, there are certain superstitious beliefs and practices that continue to hinder people’s life.
Pastoral Care and the Family Life Cycle. The family is an organism of change. Some of that change is unexpected. Some of it is inevitable as individuals within the family grow up and grow older. Because the family is always changing, adaptability is one of its essential
characteristics. To believe God is always making new means that change is an unavoidable dimension of each family structure.
One can assume that individuals change throughout the entire life cycle according to relatively predictable phases. So do families. Every individual life cycle crisis is also a family crisis. Individual transitions into and out of different family roles- such as leaving home, getting married, becoming parents coping with widowhood- are interrelated with changes in the family as a system.
These life cycle ceremonies provide a framework for families to change as well. They are «hinges of time» on which doors can open or close for several generations. The church’s access to families at these nodal events is a privilege and an opportunity for a ministry with individuals and with entire families for growth and stability.
Pastoral care is the valuable instrument by which the Church stays relevant to the family needs. They are ways of translating the good news into the language of a relationship.
Small Change Makes Large Change
It is often said from a family system perspective that a small change will make for a large change. Although families seek help, thinking that a major overhaul of their family is the only solution, a seemingly small change in the family’s structure, rules, allocation of role responsibility, distribution of power, or pattern of communication may be enough to unstuck the system.
The first and the most difficult task, is to reframe the family’s problem in terms of the whole. The pastor’s ability to think interactionally may be the small change that will make large change in the family system. Expertise in family therapy techniques is less capacity to think systematically and to be close to families without being caught up in their emotional swirl.
The Introduction of family therapy intervention into the practice of pastoral ministry has emphasized anew the importance of the pastoral initiative in general. In contrast to the non-directive or Rogerian approach that has dominated pastoral care for some time, the family systems perspective encourages greater activity on the part of the helping person.
As a result, there is less emphasis on the presumed neutrality of the helper and more deliberately and open use of the subjective reactions of the helper. This greater activity on the part of the helper in the therapeutic process presupposes clarity about one’s authority and a willingness to use one’s power inappropriate ways.
The Family and Christian Discipleship
The family is a necessary component of creation. Despite the wide diversity of form and function throughout human history, the family has fulfilled God’s intent to provide a context for creation and care in order to ensure the continuity of humankind.
From the perspective of Christian discipleship, however, the family can never be an end itself. In order to be a vital human organism, the family is always moving outside itself for the sake of justice, peace, and freedom in ever-widening human communities.
Here the researchers suggest some of the relevant counselling techniques as part of counselling intervention is helping the Naga families. Rewriting the Life Script. A script is one’s life plan, written by a person’s own early decisions which the person follows for the rest of his/her life. A person can formulate a script about himself/herself in accordance to the messages he/she received from the parents and society.
Scripts may be constructive, destructive, or going nowhere. The goal of script analysis is to change nonproductive scripts into winners scripts through deep level re-decision for personal autonomy. As a script is a decision it can be changed by a new decision. A person’s negative script can be replaced by a constructive script .
To improve and enhance the quality of the Naga family life, it is important that the pastoral counsellor help people to rewrite their life scripts from nonproductive scripts to productive scripts because over the years Nagas have incorporated many nonproductive scripts into their life that hampers in their quality of life. Gestalt Therapy. The emphasis in Gestalt therapy is working with the whole person.
OBSERVATION ON THE SELECT CORRELATES
Family communication has an important role in the healthy functioning of family life. Families that practices healthy, open and frank communication experience higher-level of family satisfaction than families where couple and family members hardly open up.
Therefore, Naga families should be encouraged for better communication within the family. So that family life will be exciting, enriching, and functional. The adverse effect of mass media on family and culture is everywhere, not only on Naga families.
The adverse effect of media on family should be properly guided to the family so that media is used for the right purpose. Mass media has become a crucial factor in every individual’s life. Almost every affair of life is controlled by mass media in the present day scenario. There is a significant correlation between the impact of mass media and family.
Religious adherence has a highly significant correlation to family. The family that spends enough time together for prayer, reading the word of God, and attending religious functions and rituals enjoy better family bonding than those families that do not give importance to religious activities.
People with higher educational qualifications determine the quality of life they live. The nitty-gritty of family life depends on the kinds of life they share and live day-to-day to the fullest because people who are well informed and well-read apply their learning and knowledge into practical life, as a result, they do better in their family relationship.
Place of residence has no significant correlation with family. In contrary to what is believed that people shifting from rural to urban settings tend to lose their culture and value system. The study result revealed that people from rural and urban settings have a similar perception, belief,s and practices in regard to family life and family functioning. It is found out that level of income has a significant correlation to family.
People with higher income are people who are also actually successful in their professional life. Accordingly, the level of income has a significant correlation to family life. It is revealed that gender difference has a significant correlation to family.
In families where female enjoys equal freedom, rights and privileges attain a higher level of a family than those family where a woman looks down and their roles limited to kitchen works, child-rearing, and being horse for the family.
The research was done among the married Christian couple. Families that don’t maintain set time for watching television, excessive internet usage; and exposure to unrestrained mass media experienced disharmony in family life.
82% (percent) of the respondents agreed that there is no strict timing or monitoring of the watching of the television, usage of internet, watching late-night movies. The adverse effect of media on family should be properly guided to the family so
that media is use to the right purpose.
It is revealed that the level of education has significant impact on the family. People with higher educational qualifications determine the quality of life they live. People who are well informed and well-read apply their learning and knowledge into practical life, as a result, they do better in their family relationships.
Naga educated, should use their knowledge and learning in helping and guiding the Nagas so that a vibrant society is created among the Naga community. People shifting from rural villages to urban do not change their perception and notion about their cultural and traditional practices.
SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER RESEARCH
A study on examining the Impact of select correlates on Marital Satisfaction will be worthwhile for a deeper understanding of the present family life. A case study on the impact of alcoholism on the family could be undertaken to better understand its impact on family relationships. An Intervention study which includes family and quality of life among married couple could be undertaken.
Family is a gift of God to human community. Family is an ideal type that transcends time and also gets transcend by the time. In this fast changing society, families need to be equipped to face the realities of today and tomorrow. The strength of the society or for that matter the future of human community depends on how families survive the onslaught of the present pathos.
The hallmark of a Christian family is ‘unity and love’. All members of the family are knit together and held together in the cord of love to live and celebrate. In the context of family, values are treasured and harnessed. In theological terms, a family is a local unit of the kingdom of God, where the kingdom values are transacted without any hitch or hamper.
The family has gone through a change from a joint system to nuclear families. The ideals and ideas of the traditional family system are considered to be old-fashioned and outdated by today’s generation. It is high time that the church and family therapists must consciously think of helping families to develop healthy and meaningful families. If a family has to be maintained and sustained, there should be effective family counselling models that could meaningfully address the need of present-day families.
The problem within a family unit affects all members. Families with problems have certain needs, require specific coping skills, and therefore, may be considered ‘high risk’ families. In the same way, chronic illness, disability in a family member, unemployment, divorce, death, or any member of other family member’s family problems disturbed the whole family system. In this demanding and challenging era «Family the bedrock and heart of a strong society» should be nurtured and given utmost support.
If Naga society has to move forward and experience progress and development. They must first address the issues of every family, then only society can experience real change and progress; because the family is the most basic unit and the bottom-most block of the society’s foundation.
It is expected that the findings and results of the present analysis may provide a deeper understanding on the tenets of family life, and may give insights in maintaining healthy functional families.
In this chapter, an attempt has been made to suggest relevant family counselling models that help and assist the families in the smooth functions of the family life. As the communication level increases family life satisfaction also increases and when the level of
communication among the members of the family diminishes level of satisfaction among the members of the family also decreases.
The research result shows that there is high significant correlation between family and mass media, the lesser the members of the family are exposed to the media, the higher the level of family life satisfaction. Schwab who has been practicing Media Model since 1989 in family counselling projected that media awareness by couples and family members is very crucial in the smooth functioning of the
Teaching and educating the importance of family life as part of regular church program so that every member of the family would value family life. Families that practices healthy, open, and frank communication experience higher-level of family satisfaction than families where couple and family members hardly open up. In families where female enjoys equal freedom, rights and privileges attain a higher level of a family than those family where a woman looks down and their roles limited to kitchen works, child-rearing, and being horse for the family.
Therefore, it is time for family life education in India and particularly the family counsellors and family therapist to “come of age” and to help the families maintain a healthy relationship. In the same way, chronic illness, disability in a family member, unemployment, divorce, death or any member of other family member family problems disturbed the whole family system.
The concluding chapter has provided the summary of the research along with major findings, the tenability of the research, implications for Church in caring the family, pastoral care and counselling towards the family by adopting some of the classical models of family
counselling, at the same time the researcher has made a humble attempt in suggesting some of the new models.