I’m not sure when I started sketching out my counseling sessions. It was so long ago that I assume I’ve always done it this way. I do know why I began sketching; it’s what Jesus did.
He was the Master at taking big ideas from the concrete, physical, and connecting them to the abstract, spiritual. He did this all the time. Birds, lilies, hair, camels, fig trees, thornbush, treasure, and rust.
Give Jesus a physical something, and He will give you a spiritual illustration. And that is why I started “drawing out” all my counseling sessions on paper. Then God created the iPad for His fame, and I went digital (Matthew 5:45).
Writing Upside Down
In the beginning, I trained myself to write upside down so the person I was talking to could see what I was illustrating. After I switched to the iPad, I set up a computer screen in my office so they could see what I was doing from that vantage point, which is how I do it today.
In the old days, the counselee would take home a stack of printer paper with a dozen or so sketches on it. Now I can send them a PDF via email. Nice.
Because a counseling session can be a significant data dump, I wanted to take advantage of both audial and visual memory. The sketches were the perfect answer, plus they could look at the drawings days and weeks later, which helped their long-term memory.
One lady brought her drawings to a conference where I was speaking. During the break, she came up with a stack of sketches, telling me about her session with me years ago. She kept them all this time and referred to them on occasion to joggle her memory.
Eventually, I turned those sketches into infographics and put them on my website. You can find them here. There are over 100 of them, and I add to the list when God gives me a new way of illustrating His truth to someone.
I use an iPad Pro with an adapter to VGA, which connects to a computer screen. I also use the Apple Pencil, a handy tool. There are several sketching apps; I use Penultimate because it’s simple, and I can create folders for each person or different projects that I’m building. After I finish the discipleship session, I send the sketches to the individual.
The other upside is that the sketches serve as great counseling notes. A picture is worth at least one-thousand words, and if I see the drawing, I exactly know what I said to the person.