Basic Counseling Skills Seminar

We were invited to speak at a gathering of young adults and youth leaders of Philippine Bethel Churches on November 23, 2019. Approximately 36 joined. We addressed active listening, basic therapeutic counseling, and some specific topics— anxiety, suicide, depression, and abuse. Despite the heaviness of these topics, we had a great time and appreciate the interest and hospitality of our hosts.


But What do you MEAN??

Books are not meant to be believed, but to be subjected to inquiry. When we consider a book, we mustn’t ask ourselves what it says but what it means. -Umberto Eco

The quote above can lead some to say, “That’s foolish! It says what it means, and means what it says!”

A clue to the challenge of the quote is that meaning is more tied to value than to facts. People commonly give facts to support certain values. But facts alone don’t reveal these values commonly. That’s because value is part of the affective part of our being, rather than cognitive or behavioral Also, part of the affective part of ourselves is our emotions. In fact, it is hard to draw clear boundaries between emotions and values— they are intertwined.

If, then, one wants to know what something means to another, listen to emotion or feeling words.  Take the following example.

John says, “My uncle died yesterday.”

Now you know the facts, but what does that really MEAN to John?  You can only guess. Rather than guessing, you could ask, “Oh my… you does that make you feel?”

John could give many different responses.

  • “I’m so very sad. He was like a second father to me.”
  • “Happy! He hurt everyone he knew. I’m glad he’s gone.”
  • “I feel lost. He was paying for my schooling. What do I do now?”
  • “Angry! He was supposed to take care of my auntie. Instead, he drank himself to death.”
  • “I don’t know. I don’t feel much of anything. I barely knew him.”

When we talk to people… we need to focus less on facts than meaning.



Testimony: Jehny Pedazo

There are a lot of needy people with troubled souls who need to be actively reached. This became clearer to me once I started pastoral or spiritual counseling in Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE); and through my affiliation with BUKAL Life Care and Counseling Center (BLCCC), serving in jail, hospital, school, church and community. Yes, counseling needs a missionary approach for its value to be fully acknowledged by the public as an indispensable resource. In the Philippine setting the term “counseling” still has a slight stigma attached to it because people have the idea that one goes for counseling only for mental and emotional disturbances. In order for the negative connotation to be dismantled, counselors ought to engage the general population and dispel these notions. I, for one, committed myself to pastoral counseling because I know what it feels like to be in great need of guidance yet ignorant and fearful about who to approach and trust. The times I faced crises, especially in my younger years, helped me know how helpful it would have been to receive counseling from someone who had dedication, sense of mission and good training.

It’s vital that counseling is delivered as a service accessible throughout the human lifespan because it is not only school-age children who need to be guided. At all phases of life, assistance in reflection; encouragement, and; informational services related to the counselee’s issues is essential to selecting best options in life. It is better if counseling is recognized as a lifelong resource, not merely “kid’s stuff.” Even adults and the elderly should feel comfortable to seek such help when necessary.

Healthcare services are trending towards the emphasis on prevention, including in counseling. It may be cliché to state that: “Prevention is better than cure,” but it holds true in any case. Soul ailments are not unimportant occurrences that we can be set aside without significant consequences. They must be addressed along with physical health. Through prevention we mitigate avoidable crises and the toll it takes on the individual, his family and others .

Now, in the Philippines, with licensure implemented, counseling has become a regulated profession. That is good in the sense that those who practice it can gain standard, credible qualifications. Counselees ought to receive the most professional and ethical guidance available. But passing licensure exams, getting continuing education, and having credentials does not guarantee that the counselor has therapeutic impact. In like manner, becoming a licensed physician does not assure that one is caring and beneficent to patients. I believe the competent counselor is one who applies wisdom in his own life, although not perfect, and utilizes his own challenges to minister to others’ needs. However, it’s also vital to the counselor to be part of an organization that continually motivates him to upgrade his counseling know-how.

It’s now 2011. I bet counseling still has a long way to go in the improvement of its services and delivery. I’m glad to be part of a counseling center, BLCCC caters locally to my own countrymen and is affiliated internationally with a larger organization, the College of Pastoral Supervision and Psychotherapy (CPSP). I actually shifted my studies to prioritize counseling subjects although my MA in teaching major is in psychology and my BS degree is in nursing. This is because I strongly believe in the great value of encouraging words, and moral support, to a person’s being. Calling and self-actualization trumps monetary gain. I can bear with material limitations for now, but self-fulfillment is a constant longing and it must be appeased before practical living concerns.

When I was deciding on a Masteral course, I chose my major because I wanted to specialize in my own passion, psychology, since from a young age I’ve always wanted to know how the mind works. My plan was to merge my undergraduate degree with my Masteral degree and become a psychiatric nurse. Now, however, I feel called to pastoral counseling in this season of my life. I’m enjoying the fulfillment and “sense of this is me” despite challenges at home, at work and in me. I don’t know what my future in counseling entails. I leave my fate in the all-encompassing protection, responsibility and love of God; although uncertainties can be troubling if I let them worry me. But as for the future of counseling in general, I’m optimistic that its positive developments and influences shall be far-reaching.

<Jehny is a CPE trainee with Bukal Life, Master’s student at University of the Cordilleras, and our Ministry Coordinator>

Bukal Charity Dinner Concert

September 4th 6pm – 9pm we will hold our first dinner concert. Our hope is that it will bring awareness to counseling needs in Baguio and the Philippines as a whole, and motivate people to partner with us in helping train chaplains, church clergy, and laypersons to help those with emotional and spiritual needs. The event is expected to be held on the grounds of Philippine Baptist Theological Seminary.

More information to follow when it becomes available, but you are certainly welcome to contact us at if you have any questions.

Some Thanks that have been forgotten

Sometimes we get busy and forget those who help make our work possible. Of course, we are thankful to our staff and SIT workers. We also appreciate our various partners here. We need to mention them specifically at another time. But here are some other thanks that needs to be made.

A. Volunteer thanks:
1. Dr. Raymond Lawrence, General Secretary of the College of Pastoral Supervision and Psychotherapy for joining us and training our CPE trainees and Supervisors in Training.
2. Dr. Cesar Espineda, diplomate with CPSP who will provide training for our trainees as well as lead a counseling symposium on May 14th.
3. Russell and Gwen Bowles, and Matt Wall. They will be coming over from Virginia to help us in social ministry particularly with special needs training and VBS.

B. Material Thanks.
1. Terry and Debbie Arndt, with WCA Hospital and Ivory Baptist Church. Medical and Surgical supplies.
2. Carmalita Grant and Gautier United Methodist Church. Hospital blankets, sheets, and smocks.
3. Doug and Cheryl Iverson. Numerous pastoral care and Christian counseling books.

April 2011 Updates

Busy times busy times. We are in week 3 of CPE intensive. Things are going well, but a bit crazy. But here are some upcoming items.

A. May 7. Minimedical mission in Irisan, Baguio City

B. May 9-12. Training with teachers at Calvary Baptist Elementary School and CPE students. Topics in working with children of special needs, learning styles, and teambuilding.

C. May 9-13. Vacation Bible School for Special Needs Children.

D. May 14. Counseling Symposium, Baguio City. Details to follow.

E. May 28. Last day of CPE. Graduation.

F. August and September. The newest batch of CPE.

Brochure Updates

Have placed updates of two of our brochures on the web. the two are:

Guidance and Testing (Rev C)

CPE (Rev C)

The can be found at:

Three more are on the way. These are:

Training (Rev. C). Brochure done. Put on the web soon.

Counseling Services (Rev. C). Brochure 70% complete.

Bukal Life Care & Counseling Center (Rev. C). Haven’t started the update yet.

February Updates

Several things are coming up. Here are just a few:

Feb 1st. Cooperative Meeting.

Feb 3rd. Student Retreat at St. Pauls, for High School Students at CCDC.

Feb 12th. Parents Meeting at IHMS, La Trinidad

Preparing for CPE that starts at the end of March. Also for Special Needs VBS during 2nd week of May, and (prayerfully) a major Pastoral Care Symposium also in mid-May.

That’s enough info for now.

January Updates

We are taking a bit of a Christmas Break, but things start up again strong in January. Here are a FEW of things going on during the month.

1. January 4th (all day) . “Shepherd in Every Classroom” training being held for teachers at Union School International, in Baguio City, Philippines.

2. January 6, 10am – 12pm. Proctor Training for those who want to volunteer with us in overseeing IQ and personality testing.

3. January 10-14. Psychometric testing at Immaculate Heart of Mary School in La Trinidad, Benguet.

Maybe because of all the training seminars, testing, and projects, we get asked if we do counseling. YES! We do free individual and group counseling, as well as referrals in the Baguio area. Contact us if you need help.

November 20 Activities

This was a busy day for us.

A. We had a training session at CRC Hall in Baguio with the CBCP Center for Women and Children. The topic: “Basic Skills and Theory of Pastoral Counseling and Psychotherapy”. 43 attended from over 20 organizations, including DSWD, Couples for Christ, and the Soroptomist Club. Training was led by Rev. Joel Aguirre, BLCCC Executive Director.

B. On the same day, had training workshop on “Church-based Member Care for Missionaries”. This was held at Philippine Baptist Theological Seminary. This is part of Asia Vision-STM’s Leadership Development Program. This is our 2nd year of involvement in their program. Over 40 attended. Celia Munson (BLCCC Director of Training) was the trainer, with a bit of help from her husband Bob (BLCCC Administrator).