Winter 2008 Rapport: Jesus with Skin on
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|Kelley Jones (M.A. 2006) is a licensed professional counselor and a registered play therapist in a nonprofit, secular counseling agency serving victims of violent and/or sexual crimes.
The bad guys were winning. Danny* sat at the child-size table playing war with plastic soldiers in a small sandbox battlefield. The bad guys always won during our first play therapy sessions.
Danny had been sexually abused as a toddler. As a preschooler he witnessed domestic violence between his parents. Most recently he was sexually abused by a teenage boy who lived in the neighborhood and attended the same school and church. It’s no wonder the bad guys were winning.
When Danny started experiencing panic attacks while away from his mother, she quit her job to be with him. Eventually Danny attempted suicide and was hospitalized and placed on antidepressant medication. The local church and school system were not equipped to deal with his significant emotional and behavioral issues.
Because I work for the state, I wasn’t allowed to speak directly about Jesus in our therapy sessions. Nevertheless, I watched God move in this boy’s heart, mind and life through the therapeutic process of play.
I worked with the school and housing authorities to get him into a new school and housing complex and encouraged the family to find a new church, away from the boy who had abused Danny. After several weeks, his anxiety and depression had significantly improved. He is now keeping up with his peers academically and is involved in extracurricular activities. His mother was able to go back to work.
Over the course of therapy, the good guys eventually overcame the bad guys in Danny’s sandbox war. I’ve seen this happen for many other clients. It is a humbling experience to be God’s vessel used in healing children.
AGTS Professor Melody Palm’s anointed instruction is reflected in this prayer for my ministry: “Let me be Jesus with skin on.” Counseling is a ministry of presence. It involves sitting with people in their pain and validating their human experience. I thank God for the training I received at AGTS, not only because it allowed me to meet state licensure requirements, but because I learned that God has equipped us with the counsel of the Holy Spirit to lead us as we guide the broken to healing.
* Name and places have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.
Monday, December 10, 2007 3:46 PM