A Review of The “Rid Of My Disgrace Small Group Discussion Guide” by Justin and Lindsey Holcomb with Stephanie Hurter

discussion guideIs your church, your counseling ministry, your staff prepared to provide compassionate and intelligent care to the victims of sexual assault? National statistics say that 1 in 4 women, and 1 in 6 men, will be victims; which likely means your church already needs to be prepared to offer this kind of care. Justin and Lindsey Holcomb have written a tremendous work aimed at addressing this issue, and now, thanks to New Growth Press, a discussion guide has been developed to aid in the care and counseling of those hurting. The Rid of My Disgrace Small Group Discussion Guide offers compassionate spiritual guidance to those who hurt.

Stephanie Hurter has done a great service to both the Holcombs and the church by developing this discussion guide as a companion to a great book. Rid of My Disgrace is a gospel-centered resource for both counselors and victims, but simply giving trauma sufferers a book to read is not compassionate and intelligent care. They need more, particularly they need relationship and guidance. In this wonderful resource Hurter has added to the quality work of Holcomb and Holcomb to do just that.

As an eight week recovery group guide, the discussion guide follows the main chapters of Justin and Lindsey’s monograph. Participants in a recovery group are invited to read the corresponding chapters, answer some reflection questions on their own, and then participate in a group where further guided discussion will occur. In this regard it follows a rather common format. What I love about this tool, however, is its combination of sensitivity and probing guidance.

The authors write in a manner that reveals awareness of the challenges of addressing trauma. They regularly encourages people to work through the questions at their own pace. We read:

While you are welcome to work through all the suggested questions, we recognize that these are difficult topics to cover and so encourage you to be patient with yourself and go at a pace that seems best for you. (3-4)

The authors encourage readers to spend time praying as they anticipate particularly difficult chapters, like two and three in the primary text. With great care and compassion this book invites participants to examine themselves, to ask hard questions, and to reflect on their emotions, history, and present sorrow. Week two, in particular, encourages participants to embrace their emotions, even while they resist being ruled by them. Their general compassion and sensitivity is one of the most remarkable features of this gospel-centered resource.

Each group discussion focuses on questions related to self, others, and God. An emphasis on community is a most welcomed piece to this material, and the questions about others help participants to consider how they are connecting or isolating from community. The Godward component is also much appreciated. As a pastor and a counselor I believe the gospel is key to healing from the trauma of sexual assault, and these authors concur. Each chapter asks relevant questions to help participants consider how they are thinking about and responding to God. They don’t reduce every chapter to “trust God,” but neither do they leave God out of the progression towards healing. There is also ample Scripture to meditate upon included in the home study and group discussion components. The spiritual emphasis of the work book is really evident throughout.

I am so thrilled that this tool exists. We don’t have immediate plans to implement it in our recovery programs, but we will undoubtedly be utilizing it in individual counseling. As a compassionate, intelligent, and gospel-centered resource I plan to stock it in our counseling department for years to come.

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