What is Pastoral Counseling?
Pastoral Counseling combines theological (an understanding of how God wants us to live) with psychological (proven researched understandings of how our mind works which causes us to behave in certain ways) disciplines. I have training in both disciplines.
What Are Your Qualifications?
I have an undergraduate degree in human relations (psychology and sociology) and masters and doctorate degrees in pastoral care from theological institutions. In addition, I have clinical training in psychiatric and general hospitals as a chaplain and have completed my Board Certification in that field and have 13 years of experience as a chaplain. I also have over 30 years of experience working with families in a church context.
How Do I Know I Need Counseling?
By visiting this website, you likely acknowledge that you are struggling to find your way through some big issue in life. You may be depressed, grieving, recovering from divorce, or angry. You may be struggling with porn, obsessive thoughts, anxiety, self-esteem, stress, a life transition, your children, your job, your spouse, or you may have an addiction. When faced with a big issue, being humble enough to seek help is the first step to healing. You know you need counseling when you feel that life is becoming unmanageable, and the problem is always on your mind, with no solution in sight.
I’m Not Very Religious Are You Still a Good Fit for Me?
No worries. I work with all kinds of people. I will not fill our sessions with a lot of “God talk.” I do acknowledge that God is present in all our sessions. No healing comes apart from God. From time to time, I will reference God or some passage of scripture, but the goal is not to offend the client. It’s not my goal to impose my religion or beliefs on the client. If clients are comfortable, there are times I might pray for them at the end of a session. I’m always happy to answer faith questions if you have them. For those clients who are religious, some sessions may include more references to faith issues than others. Sometimes, faith matters are part of a client’s struggles and we deal with those straight on. It’s important for clients to know they can be real with me, say what needs to be said, and not be judged. You will say nothing that I have not heard. I don’t have virgin ears.
What If My Marriage is in Trouble, But I Cannot Get My Spouse to Attend Counseling?
The best thing to do is make the first step. A marriage cannot heal without two people working together. However, if one person makes changes, the other cannot help but recognize the effort. Also, at the first session, I can introduce you to the Prepare/Enrich marital inventory concept. In fact, you can check it out for yourself now. Go to Prepare-enrich.com and read about the inventory for marital couples. I used this excellent inventory to show couples their strengths and growth areas and show them a snapshot of exactly where the most troublesome places are within the marriage and then, through several sessions of counseling, help them strengthen their growth areas to help save their marriage. I’ve had reluctant spouses look at this inventory and decide to try it and then come to counseling. This could work for you, too.
How Often Should I Attend Counseling?
In the acute stage, it’s important to attend once a week. Of course, your budget will dictate whether you can do this. However, most clients benefit from coming once a week for the first month and then they can evaluate whether they can come every other week. However, I have some clients with addictions that have a standing weekly appointment. I’ve had other clients that have had a traumatic event that came every week for two-three months until they felt like they could function before they spread the appointments out. And there are some clients who begin by spacing the appointments apart from the beginning. However, I have discovered that those clients who start counseling and then schedule an appointment a month later are more at risk for not coming back.
Do You Accept Insurance?
I do not accept any form of insurance. My rate of $110 is a competitive rate compared with other counselors in the area. While I can schedule a few sessions during the day, I am accessible in the evenings and on weekends. Many counselors are not. This makes it convenient for many of my clients because of work issues.
Is Tele-Counseling Effective?
Most people would rather meet face-to-face and I understand that. However, the pandemic taught us that meeting virtually has many advantages. We can meet each other more conveniently and at various times and lose little of the one-on-one dynamics of a conversation. I have counseled married candidates from Connecticut and Atlanta, and I have clients from Florida, California, and North Carolina. No one has ever complained about missing anything from this way of doing counseling. It doesn’t matter if you are just down the street. If you need counseling, we can find a way and a time to connect!
Why Do I Have to Sign a Consent Form?
A consent form serves the purpose of protecting both of us in issues of litigation. The agreement spells out what the counselor and client expect of each other during the duration of the relationship. This type of agreement reduces the possibility of conflict and misunderstandings. Here is the link to the counseling consent form: https://johnmichaelhelms.com/counseling-consent-form/