Counseling Notes: Betrayal

By: Kyle J. Howard Topic: Biblical Counseling, Abuse of Power, Love

1. Betrayal is a real thing, but I’ve rarely met someone who actually thinks of their actions as a form of “betrayal”.

Betrayal is seeking self-interest at the expense of another’s flourishing, and in so doing violating trust.

Usually it occurs between two parties that share a degree of trust. Betrayal often requires unique proximity to another person that the average person lacks (like friendship).

2. All betrayal requires a breach of trust, but most often betrayal occurs between two parties that have a *unique* degree of trust towards one another.

Betrayal is abuse of power.

It involves someone w/ relational power (trust) wielding it as a tool for self advancement at another’s expense.

3. When mediating relational rifts caused by betrayal, you will most often hear the party accused of betrayal justifying their actions by claiming:

“I did/thought I did what was in the best interest of the other, it just so happened it benefitted me instead of them.”

This is a common form of self-deception in relation to betrayal. 

4. Betrayal is not something that only happens between two individuals. Betrayal can also occur between two communities or between a person & a community. Also, a person doesn’t have to know another person on a personal level in order for betrayal to occur. Someone can have a public platform which is built on trust & that individual can do things that betray said trust leading to devastation. Betrayal occurs when individuals who are trusted as public role models betray that trust & wound those who had confidence in them.

5. Mediating reconciliation often requires walking back through actions & pinpointing the ways in which acting in self-denial would’ve shifted outcome. Helping the person see, point by point, how their actions were not under the umbrella of biblical love but rather under the umbrella of self-serving/exaltation.

-Biblical Love, as described in I Corinthians 13 requires serval things.

Patience, kindness, it’s not envious, it doesn’t boast, it isn’t arrogant or rude, it doesn’t insist on its own way, it is not irritable or resentful, it doesn’t rejoice in wrongdoing but in the Truth, it bears all things, believes the best, hopes the best, and seeks to endure all things.

this is the outline/map you should consider using as you assess the various actions that have taken place leading up to the moment of “betrayal”. Has the person accused of betrayal been operating out of these elements or have they been acting contrary to them.

6. Betrayal can be profoundly painful as it doesn’t only involve a breach of trust, but involves trust being weaponized & used against the person who entrusted; causing deep wounds & often life altering consequences. Through the grace & power of the Holy Spirit, healing and relational restoration can occur. Relationships that have been ripped apart due to betrayal can be healed but it requires The power of God, time, & deep repentance. Without repentance, the kind of repentance that includes a fundamental shift in how one relates, there cannot be restoration as the threat of betrayal occurring again in the future will always linger.

Kyle J. Howard currently serves the church as a trauma informed soul care provider. Though his Soul Care ministry is comprehensive, he his primarily focused on counseling, teaching, and raising awareness about Spiritual abuse/trauma as well as racial trauma. Kyle holds an Associates in Biblical & Theological studies, a Bachelors in Christian Counseling, and is receiving his M.A in Historical Theology in a few weeks.