Understanding Our Struggles




Understanding Our Struggles

This course is designed to equip counselors to deal with the most common personal and relational struggles, as well as the most common presenting problems they will hear from clients.  These issues are anxiety, codependency, shame, anger, deep disappointment in relationships, sexual abuse, spiritual abuse, separation/divorce, addiction, grief, and pornography. Each lesson includes a section on understanding the roots of the problem, a framework for thinking about it from psychology and the Bible, and intervention strategies for counselors.

The course may be purchased as a whole, or as individual lessons. Each lesson includes a downloadable audio recording and PDFs with a teaching outline and resources for further enrichment and learning. 

We are suggesting that you listen to each audio lesson several times, taking notes with your outline at least one of these times. 

We want this to be an excellent learning experience and catalyst for personal growth, as well as equipping you for counseling. The other courses in our training are Understanding People and Counseling Skills and Practicum.

If you have more questions, send them to joe@respero.org.

Understanding Our Struggles lessons may be purchased individually.


Anxiety is epidemic in our culture, and is actually now our number one mental health issue. In this lesson we will look at the sources of anxiety and why this issue is so prevalent We will look at key passages in the New Testament and how their core truths are still vital today, and then examine some intervention strategies to help people change their thinking patterns, lower stress, and experience genuine peace. 


Everyone is codependent; it’s just a matter of degree. But some people are codependent in a way that consumes their life and robs them of peace and freedom in their soul. In this lesson we talk about how to understand codependency, why people struggle with it so much, and how to help people identify their wrong beliefs and establish new ways of thinking and loving. We also see how Jesus was the only person completely free of codependency, and how his example instructs us for our own lives.


Anger is a normal, inevitable human emotion. But most people don’t handle or express this emotion in healthy ways, and so it often wreaks havoc in their relationships. So in this lesson we examine the roots and sources of anger, the framework for thinking about it clearly from psychology and the wisdom of the Bible. Then we outline the healthy ways in which anger can be expressed, and how we can help people practice new expressions that don’t violate love. 


Most people don’t know what to do with their grief, and have learned to suppress it and stuff it.  Our culture also sends a lot of confusing and harmful signals about grieving. But feeling and expressing grief and sadness in healthy ways is fundamental to our overall emotional health. So in this lesson we focus on why this is true, and how to encourage, support and provide a safe haven to people so that they can grieve their losses in healthy ways.

Marriage, Separation, and Divorce

In this lesson we take a brief look at the purpose of marriage, and what it takes for couples to experience a rich oneness together. But then the bulk of the lesson is spent on how to have an accurate and clear perspective on separation and divorce, especially regarding what the Bible teaches (since this is such an area of confusion and misinterpretation). We give specific examples of when and how separation is warranted and can be productive for restoration, and we take a deep dive into divorce and how to help people recover and heal when their marriage is broken.


Disappointment is inevitable in every relationship of any depth or intimacy, but if people don’t deal with it in healthy ways it will damage their hearts and relationships. In this lesson we look at how to understand the source of disappointment, and how to respond to it with maturity and wisdom. We also briefly examine what to do when we are disappointed with God, and when others are disappointed with us.

Sexual Abuse

The unfortunate reality is that many, many people have experienced the pain and heartbreak of sexual abuse. In this lesson we talk about the emotional, mental, and behavioral effects of abuse.  We use some stories and case studies and do not shy away from the difficult questions and realities of this subject. We then examine how we can help people recover and heal from this pain, and not let it rob them of their worth, value and ability to love and be loved.

Spiritual Abuse

This lesson begins by focusing on how to define and recognize the marks of a spiritually abusive person and/or church. Then we move to the important topic of how to encourage and counsel people as they seek to heal and get clarity around the pain of enduring this kind of abuse. This is an especially discouraging and damaging type of experience for someone’s spiritual life and view of God, so we talk about what is essential for healing and recovery. 


Virtually no one in our day is free from the impact of addiction, either through their own struggle with it, or that of a family member or loved one. While one lesson cannot qualify someone to be an addiction counselor, we do hope to provide a solid overview and framework for thinking about addiction. We address the questions of how to define addiction, how it affects our brain, is involvement in 12-step recovery necessary, the history and work of AA, etc. Then we finish by describing the essential qualities of a life free from addiction.


The extent and devastating impact of pornography on our souls and relationships is impossible to overstate.  In this lesson we briefly discuss some marks of healthy sexuality, but spend most of the time focusing on what men and women need for healing and freedom from porn. We also address ideas for counseling and encouraging people whose spouse or partner are enmeshed with pornography.


Shame is epidemic in our culture, and its a pervasive struggle for many people. In this lesson we examine the definition of shame and it’s root sources. Then we provide a framework for thinking about it from psychology, brain science, and the Bible. Finally, and most importantly, we talk about the keys to helping people change their shame beliefs and live out of their true identity as deeply loved and valued sons and daughters of God.