5 April 2012
The process of change has been a popular topic in training recently. We started by discussing the general concept of change and how to promote change in various ways among a variety of demographics. This is particularly helpful to think through, as a major part of our job as Peace Corps Volunteers is to promote positive change. In general, I tend to be fascinated by how people think about and react to situations in life. As a counseling major, I have learned effective processes of helping an individual to change.
This afternoon, the Education sector hosted a guest speaker who talked about behavior change as it relates to elementary school students. We were given various case studies about children who were being picked on, who had no interest in completing homework, and the like. The case study I was assigned to counsel had a two-fold problem: two boys started fighting during a math lesson, and when instructed to “stop” by the teacher, one boy replied with “shut up.”
As I discussed the various routine disciplines that each child may have received, I was reminded that true behavioral change cannot be accomplished without a heart change. As cheesy as it may sound, the child’s heart has to change—their motives have to shift—in order for their behavior change in a long-term, effective way. The same is true with any adult’s behavior change. Something as simple as changing to be more physically active is motivated by a change in the mindset to becoming healthier (or competitive, if you’re like myself). Likewise, changing one’s attitude toward a spouse will change how they act toward that person and, ultimately, change the dynamics of their marriage.
Ephesians 4 discusses the Biblical, 3-step process of change.
1. Put off false thinking/bad attitude/negative behavior.
2. Be renewed in the thinking of your mind.
3. Put on truth/good attitude/positive behavior.
One of the first questions I asked of my Introduction to Biblical Counseling professor was, “What about change that has been proved to work and does not necessarily come from the Bible?” I was thinking along the lines of behavior change, as I had recently completed coursework in Psychology and Child Development. His simple response was, “it’s probably based on something Biblical.” I struggled through accepting that answer; however, the more involved I became in Biblical counseling, the more I was convinced of his reply.
I write all this to say that, no matter what one’s approach is, true behavioral change has to come from a heart and/or mind change. Revisiting behavioral change during training has only affirmed my own training in years passed.