Do I Need Counseling?

“Our country faces an unprecedented mental health crisis among people of all ages.”  

This statement from the White House last year not only describes the condition of our country but also reflects the suffering many Christians face. The stigma that once haunted believers who struggle with mental health is fading as pastors and church leaders more readily address such topics with their congregations. In addition, faith-based counseling offered by Christian counselors is becoming easier to find.  

But believers can still wonder if their situation warrants the need for formal counseling. Isn’t the care and support of friends, family, pastors, and our faith community enough? These God-given resources are vital, but they aren’t exhaustive. There are times when talking with someone who has more focused expertise may be helpful.

The God-given resources of friends, family, pastors, and your faith community are vital, but they aren’t exhaustive. There are times when talking with someone who has more focused expertise may be helpful.

If you’ve ever wondered if you might benefit from counseling, here are six questions to determine the answer. 

1. DO YOU FEEL STUCK? Are your best efforts to change ineffective? Do you feel trapped in a never-ending negative cycle of poor communication and hurtful interaction in your relationships? Is suffering unrelenting or does discouragement over unchanging circumstances feel overwhelming?

If you’ve sought help but still feel stuck, counseling may offer a much-needed fresh perspective. 

2. HAVE YOU SUFFERED A DISTRESSING OR TRAUMATIZING EVENT? Tragedies come in a variety of forms: miscarriage, accidents, injuries, the loss of a job, or the death of a friend or family member. The trauma of victimizations and violations can lead you to places that are emotionally unfamiliar and challenging. A counselor can help you work through both unexpected and expected hardships.  

3. IS EMOTIONAL STRESS MANIFESTING IN PHYSICAL SYMPTOMS? Headaches, fatigue, digestive issues, or a racing heart are just a few symptoms that result from emotional stress. When you notice symptoms, a visit to your doctor is a good idea. If your doctor thinks stress is the cause of your physical issues, counseling is an excellent way to address what’s contributing to your body’s response.

4. ARE YOU STRUGGLING TO COPE WITH THE PRESSURES OF LIFE? To deal with the tensions of life, people find ways to cope. Some are helpful and healthy, like engaging in exercise, being with friends, meditating on Scripture, praying, spending time outdoors, or creating a quiet space for yourself. Other forms of coping are less healthy and are distractions that compound problems. If you’re coping with stress by turning to addictive habits such as drugs or alcohol, indulging in comfort food, watching shows excessively, scrolling social media, or other escapes, talking to someone is a wise and needed step.  

5. ARE YOUR RELATIONSHIPS STRAINED? Relationships are challenging. Whether it’s with your coworkers, church family, spouse, children, or parents, no relationship is immune to hard times. Even the best of friendships can take a difficult turn and cause unexpected challenges. Marriage and family relationships can fall into cycles of conflict, leaving you feeling hopeless. If you can’t make progress toward relational resolution, seek counsel.

Finding a counselor who can connect the love of Christ and the wisdom of the Scriptures to the interpersonal struggles you face can be a great encouragement.  

6. HAVE YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS EXPRESSED CONCERNED? Others often see us more clearly than we see ourselves. When friends and family voice concerns, don’t ignore them. It can be hard to see how things are affecting you when the situation has become part of your everyday life. If people who care about you say they’ve noticed concerning things, humbly listen and reach out for help.  

If you answered yes to any of the questions above, know that the Lord doesn’t intend for you to struggle alone. Take advantage of the circle of care God has provided through friends, family, and your local church. But also consider counseling as another avenue of care the Lord may be providing to you.  

This post written by Eliza Huie was originally shared on The Gospel Coalition website.

Ten Quick Tips to Help Your Anxious Child

Anxiety is no respecter of age. Out of the many people who recognize the validity of this statement, parents are among those who feel the truth of it most deeply. Knowing it to be true is one thing, knowing what to do about it is quite another.

As with every effort in parenting you want to look at the root cause and point children to the comfort and care of God. Addressing the heart with the truth of Scripture is your goal. Yet there are times when the body gets in the way of the heart’s ability to receive instruction. This is often the case when parenting an anxious child. In these circumstances, parents can make greater progress by focusing on and addressing both the physical and emotional needs of the child first, in order to prepare them to effectively process and internalize spiritual instruction.

“There are times when the body gets in the way of the heart’s ability to receive instruction.” Eliza Huie

Below are ten quick tips parents can utilize to support their child who is dealing with anxiety. The tips provided will assist you in effectively managing the needs of your anxious child and help you foster a sense of clam in both their body and in their mind, thus creating a better opportunity for future heart-connections to be made or strengthened.

1- Practice deep breathing: Teach your child how to take slow deep breaths in through their nose and out through their mouth. This can help them relax and feel more in control when they’re feeling anxious.

2- Encourage exercise: Regular physical activity can help reduce anxiety and improve overall mood. Encourage your child to participate in activities they enjoy, such as sports, dancing, or playing outside.

3- Use imagination: Help your child imagine a happy, peaceful place in their mind. Encourage them to imagine feeling God’s presence in that place. Encourage them to take a mental break and visit this place whenever they’re feeling anxious.

4- Talk about feelings: Encourage your child to express their feelings and listen to them without judgment. Help them understand that it’s normal to feel have strong feelings and that there are ways to manage those feelings.

5- Establish a routine: Consistency and structure can help reduce anxiety in children. Establish a regular routine for meals, homework, and bedtime and stick to it as much as possible.

6- Meditate on Scripture: Teach children how to meditate on God’s word. Use songs that help them memorize Scripture or write encouraging Bible verses on cards for them to see through their day. Encourage them to focus on Bible verse and let go of anxious thoughts.

7- Get enough sleep: Lack of sleep can exacerbate anxiety symptoms. Make sure your child is getting enough sleep each night and establish a bedtime routine that promotes relaxation. Include a time of prayer in your child’s routine where they give all their worries to the Lord.

8- Limit screen time: Excessive screen time contributes to anxiety and other mental health issues. Set limits on the amount of time your child spends on electronic devices. Join them in these limits.

9- Encourage positive self-talk: Parents can shy away from this fearing it could make a child proud. However, all people, children and adults included, have a negativity bias that leads them to easily slip into unhelpful thinking. Teach your child to speak kindly to themselves and to challenge negative thoughts. Remind them of their God-given strengths and talents.

10- Seek professional help: If your child’s anxiety is impacting their daily life, it may be helpful to seek the advice a Christian mental health professional or a biblical counselor. These professionals can come alongside parents to provide strategies and tools to help your child manage their anxiety and connect them to the hope to found in Jesus.

Implementing these strategies is not all that is needed. Parents should seek to understand what is driving the anxious thoughts. For most of us a hyper-focused pursuit of personal safety and control can lead to anxiety but the Lord intends that we would trust and depend on him rather than on ourselves (Proverbs 3:5-6). When you help your child to better understand and manage their anxiety you are now in a more favorable position to address their spiritual needs. Remember to be patient and supportive, and never hesitate to seek the help of your pastor, a more seasoned parent, or a professional if needed.

Pre-order your child a copy of my latest book Count Yourself Calm, Taking BIG Feelings to a BIG God.

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Counseling Supervision Group

Counseling can be incredibly lonely and finding supportive consultation can be challenging. I am excited to share that I will be once again offering an online supervision group for biblical or Christian counselors. This group will meet online on the following dates/times:

February – March (2/3, 2/17, 3/3, 3/17, 3/31)

Noon-1:30 EST

Online Zoom Room

To maximize the value of the time together the group size will be limited to six counselors. This will allow for the group to become a community of support that can extend beyond the group supervision meetings. There is a brief application process before confirmation of you membership is received. If you are looking for supervision that is Biblically Anchored | Clinically Informed | Practically Applied look no further. Below you will find application requirements as well as my supervision qualifications.

For questions please reach out to me through the “Let’s Connect” page of this website. I hope to see you in the group!

Required for application:

  • Must have at least one year of counseling experience.
  • Strong commitment to provide biblically-based counsel.
  • Must affirm both the doctrinal and confessional statement of the BCC. (NOTE- this group is not associated with the BCC.)
  • Desire to provide “whole person” care (addressing spiritual, emotional, physical, and relational areas of need).
  • Sympathetic of clinical research and terminology.

Supervision will support you in:

  • Proficiency in biblical application.
  • Navigating challenging cases.
  • Building a community with likeminded biblical counselors.
  • Developing as a counselor.
  • Interdisciplinary expertise.
  • Ethical matters related to care.
  • Insight for private practice processes and procedures.

Supervisor qualifications:

  • MA in counseling
  • Biblical and clinical credentials. (ABC and CCEF certificates, licensed in VA and MD, EMDR, GTEP, RTEP, CCPT)
  • Over 14 years of experience in biblical counseling and 5 years of clinical experience.
  • Leadership and mentoring experience in private practice, faith-based ministry, and church settings.
  • Supervising and coaching experience in establishing and maintaining counseling practices.