Christian Counselor Directory Blog

Find a Christian Counselor

Monday, February 19, 2024

Trauma and NET, TFT, and EMDR: Is mind-body work helpful?

Monday, February 19, 2024 @ 1:36 PM

Trauma and NET, TFT, and EMDR: Is mind-body work helpful?

Trauma happens to everyone. It’s more than stress because the effects are lingering and tend to show up when you are stressed. You experienced something as being life-threatening, deeply distressing or disturbing. Sometimes it is brought on by others stories. Trauma effects could be as serious as PTSD or as mild as over-reacting to people or circumstances. 

What is EMDR? 

A structured therapy that encourages the patient to briefly focus on the trauma memory while simultaneously experiencing bilateral stimulation (typically eye movements), which is associated with a reduction in the vividness and emotion associated with the trauma memories. For more information look up EMDR on the American Psychological Association website here.

What is NET? 

Neuro Emotional Technique uses the meridian system for healthcare, i.e. muscle testing (chiropractors) and acupuncture. For more information look up NET on the NIH National Library of Medicine website here.

What is TFT?

The client is tapping with their fingers at meridian points on the upper body and hands. Thought Field Therapy, unlike the one size fits all EFT, is specific to emotions. For more information look up Thought Field Therapy on the NIH National Library of Medicine website here and here.

What kind of mind-body work helps?

When your therapist tells you of a technique to use at home such as tapping, practice it when you’re feeling anxiety triggered by a past trauma. These things help and the evidence is not all anecdotal. Evidence-based research has been done on EMDR. Do your research looking at peer-reviewed journals or reliable sources. 

Do more of what works for you. For some people it is acupuncture, for others it’s yoga. It could be breathing techniques, tapping or body scans. There are meditation and relaxation exercises available on YouTube or phone apps such as Insight Timer. 

Can mind-body work (energy psychology) be used by Christians?

Whether you can benefit from this therapy depends on what you and your therapist believe about who God is and what a relationship with God is like.

Some people are using a Christian mind-body protocol called Splankna for trauma therapy. This therapy uses EFT, NET and TFT tools. There have been more than 3000 people trained in Splankna in the US, Mexico, Canada, Australia, China, Uganda, and Germany in the last 25 years. Practitioners can be found in private practices, churches or faith-based organizations.

Don’t rush into mind-body work if you’re feeling a check in your spirit. Just talk to God about it and clear it with Him. Doubts mean you may need more information. If you and your therapist believe that mind-body work is a New Age practice that is based on pagan beliefs, then this is not the right therapy for you. For links to more information click below to the original article.

If you're ready for a change, call 720-577-5985 to book a free consult.

Saturday, February 17, 2024

Faith Is All You Need

Saturday, February 17, 2024 @ 1:24 PM

I know there are times in our life when we feel like the weight of our problems and struggles are so difficult and overwhelming, that sometimes we actually become paralyzed by them. But the good news is that we don't have to be crippled, or stuck in that place. Even when it feels like you've lost all hope, strength, and motivation, there is light calling you out of the darkness. You may not see it, but it's there. The light is in you, and all around you. That light of hope, strength, and victory is always ready and available for God's children. Through prayer, it's there for the asking.

What is wonderful and amazing, is that God loves you so much, that even when you've lost all strength, and have pretty much given up on yourself and your life, God hasn't given up on you, and never will. And if you are at a point where your struggles and trials have left you completely exhausted, and barely breathing, there is no need to feel discouraged. Because God will, rest assured, carry you through during the times that you are unable to carry yourself.

I know that it may be hard for some of you to see that and believe that right now. And I understand, because I've been there, too. I've been in seasons of great pain, darkness, and discouragement. But I can promise you that it doesn't have to be like that forever, and that God will get you to the other side, to a place of joy, peace, and healing. All you need to do, is lean on God, and trust Him to work all things together for your good, which He has promised in His Word. Allow seeds of faith to take root, and they will blossom.

This is an excerpt from my book called "Words of Wisdom" by Katte Schleif, which was my maiden name.

The Photo is by Alex Shute on Unsplash

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

When Faith And Trauma Collide by Dr. Karen Stallings

Wednesday, February 14, 2024 @ 2:03 PM

When Faith and Trauma Collide," is a self-help workbook of applicable practices that can help anyone overcome the traumas in their life. Dr. Karen Stallings has penned a practical and biblically-based profound guide of "what to do," when one's "faith" is tested during the most difficult times of their lives. Due to the fact, that no-one is exempt from experiencing trauma this book is a gem of information. It will help everyone who reads it to survive the head-on collisions of their faith and traumatic experiences.

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Nurturing Your Sensitivity: A Guide to HSP Self-Care

Wednesday, February 7, 2024 @ 6:20 PM

As a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP), prioritizing self-care is essential for maintaining balance and well-being in a world that can sometimes feel overwhelming. In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore effective self-care strategies tailored specifically for HSPs, empowering you to embrace your sensitivity and thrive.

Understanding HSP Self-Care:
Self-care for Highly Sensitive Persons (HSPs) involves nurturing your unique needs and sensitivities to promote mental, emotional, and physical well-being. By incorporating self-care practices into your daily routine, you can cultivate resilience and thrive in a world that may sometimes feel chaotic or overstimulating.

Recognizing the Importance of HSP Self-Care:
Self-care is not a luxury but a necessity, especially for HSPs who may be more prone to feeling overwhelmed by external stimuli and intense emotions. Prioritizing self-care allows you to recharge, set boundaries, and honor your sensitivity as a valuable aspect of your identity.

Creating a Self-Care Routine for HSPs:

Mindful Awareness: Practice mindfulness to cultivate present-moment awareness and reduce overwhelm. Take time each day to engage in activities such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, or mindful walking.

Sensory Management: Manage sensory input by creating environments that support your comfort and well-being. Invest in noise-canceling headphones, dim lighting, and comfortable textures to minimize sensory overload.

Boundaries and Assertiveness: Set clear boundaries to protect your energy and prioritize your needs. Learn to assertively communicate your limits and say no to activities or commitments that feel draining or overwhelming.

Emotional Regulation: Develop strategies for managing intense emotions and preventing emotional burnout. Practice self-compassion, journaling, or seeking support from trusted friends or a therapist.

Nature Connection: Connect with nature to recharge and find solace in the natural world. Spend time outdoors, go for walks in green spaces, or engage in activities such as gardening or hiking.

Creative Expression: Harness your creativity as a form of self-expression and self-care. Engage in artistic pursuits such as painting, writing, or playing music to channel your emotions and cultivate joy.

Social Support: Cultivate supportive relationships with understanding friends, family members, or fellow HSPs. Surround yourself with people who validate and appreciate your sensitivity, offering empathy and encouragement.

Physical Well-Being: Prioritize your physical health by engaging in regular exercise, nourishing your body with nutritious foods, and prioritizing adequate rest and sleep.

Mindful Technology Use: Set boundaries around technology use to prevent digital overwhelm. Schedule regular breaks from screens, establish tech-free zones in your home, and limit exposure to negative news or social media.

Reflection and Self-Discovery: Take time for introspection and self-discovery to deepen your understanding of your sensitivity and personal needs. Journaling, self-reflection exercises, and therapy can aid in this process of self-awareness and growth.

Conclusion:
Prioritizing self-care is essential for nurturing your sensitivity and thriving as a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP). By incorporating mindful awareness, sensory management, emotional regulation, and connection with nature and creativity into your daily routine, you can honor your unique needs and cultivate resilience in a world that may sometimes feel overwhelming. Remember that self-care is not selfish but necessary for sustaining your well-being and embracing your sensitivity as a valuable aspect of your identity.

Navigating Relationship Challenges with Therapy

Wednesday, February 7, 2024 @ 4:12 PM

The voyage of love and partnership is one of life's most profound adventures, filled with the potential for great joy and significant challenges. As I stand today, a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and a Certified Integrative Mental Health Professional, I trace back the roots of my expertise not only to my professional endeavors but also to my personal life story, which is rich with lessons and growth.

In 1995, a young woman of 22, grappling with deep-seated daddy issues, I entered into a relationship that was destined to redefine my life. Jim, a man who had weathered the storm of a previous marriage and was navigating the complexities of being a father to three children, became my partner in this unpredictable journey of life.

As Jim's second wife, I stepped into a role that was entirely new to me. With an Associate of Arts in Early Childhood Education in my toolkit, I was grateful for the knowledge it provided, for it allowed me to avoid some pitfalls in my role as a bonus mom – a role I embraced wholeheartedly despite the steep learning curve and lack of healthy relationship models in my own upbringing.

Growing up, my notions of love and relationships were shaped by street wisdom and the fictional happily-ever-afters portrayed on television. In hindsight, I can see how Disney's portrayals, while magical, also set many of us up for disappointment by creating expectations that real-life relationships rarely meet. I won't even talk about the steady diet of telenovelas that I was exposed to at a very young age and my own addiction to daytime soaps in high school.

My marriage with Jim, which has now spanned over two decades, stands as a testament to the power of commitment, the potential for transformation through therapy, and the guiding light of faith. It's a story that has unfolded with its share of trials and triumphs, teaching us both the value of hard work, understanding, and unwavering dedication to one another. I also know that at any minute that can change walking through valleys of broken relationships with loved ones and clients. We each have our own narratives that have shaped the way we see our relationships.

Come read the rest of the article on my website at https://www.throughthevalleytherapy.com/post/navigating-relationship-challenges-with-therapy

Spirituality Among Americans

Wednesday, February 7, 2024 @ 3:32 PM

A recent Pew Research survey showed that having a spiritual sense of self was widely identified even though, or especially, if they did not think of themselves as religious. Highlights from this survey are listed below:

- 83% of all U.S. adults believe people have a soul or spirit in addition to their physical body.
- 81% say there is something spiritual beyond the natural world, even if we cannot see it.
- 74% say there are some things that science cannot possibly explain.
- 45% say they have had a sudden feeling of connection with something from beyond this world.
- 38% say they have had a strong feeling that someone who has passed away was communicating
with them from beyond this world.
-30% say they have personally encountered a spirit or unseen spiritual force.

Overall, 70% of U.S. adults can be considered “spiritual” in some way, because they think of themselves as spiritual people or say spirituality is very important in their lives.

Monday, February 5, 2024

Overthinking? Here’s How to Get Out of Your Head and Into Your Body

Monday, February 5, 2024 @ 10:56 AM

For some, the feeling of an overcrowded brain will be all too familiar. It usually happens when you’re trapped in a pattern of overthinking. Read more at https://encompasscounselingmichigan.com/overthinking-heres-how-to-get-out-of-your-head-and-into-your-body/

Sunday, February 4, 2024

Are there Practical Benefits to Premarital Therapy?

Sunday, February 4, 2024 @ 12:25 PM

There continues to be considerable debate as to whether there are practical benefits to premarital/remarital counseling. The question further arises as to if premarital/remarital counseling is effective. According to Wright (1992), the institution of marriage is the closest bond that can develop between two people. That said, as many couples progress towards marriage perceptions and expectations as to what constitutes marriage varies considerably. In this regard, Wright (1992) contends that, “Unrealistic expectations and fantasies create a gulf between the partners and cause disappointments” (p. 11). Fawcett, Hawkins, Blanchard and Carroll (2010) contend that promoting healthy marriages and relationships now engages greater attention from principal stakeholders and requires considerable commitment and resources. A 2006 household survey conducted reported that “premarital education is significantly correlated to higher levels of marital quality, lower levels of marital conflict, and lower divorce rates” (Stanley, Amato, Johnson, & Markham, 2006, p. 232). The findings derived from this 2006 study lend support to the theory that premarital counseling may be effective (Proverbs 11:14; Proverbs 12:15; Proverbs 15:22; Proverbs 19:20-21).

There are numerous approaches employed in premarital counseling. One such interesting paradigm is solution-focused premarital counseling. According to Murray and Murray (2004), “Solution-focused therapy is a brief therapy approach that emphasizes clients’ strengths and attempts to produce desirable solutions to clients’ presenting problems” (p. 350). This specific approach takes on relevance because of the rapidity with which contemporary culture continues to undergo change. Solution-focused premarital counseling may also considered to be an effective option by some scholars as a result of: (a) its constructivist and postmodern paradigm, (b) its emphasis on clients’ perception of truth and (c) clients’ interpretations of their personal life experiences, interpersonal relationships coupled with their personal goals and aspirations ( Murray & Murray, 2004). At the corpus of the effectiveness of solution-focused premarital counseling is: (a) clients’ recognition that change is needed and (b) clients’ commitment to work with their therapist to implement mutually agreeable and sustainable change. “The solution-oriented theoretical framework provides a foundation for expanding the delivery of premarital counseling programs to engaged couples” (p. 356).

Is premarital counseling an effective tool for couples who are about to get married for the first time? Can it be equally effective for others reconsidering marriage after having experienced a failed marriage or failed marriages? In another meta-analytic study, consisting of 14 studies spanning four decades, Lucier-Greer and Adler-Baeder (2012) concluded that couple and relationship education “(CRE) programs that target participants in stepfamilies, both married and nonmarried, are modestly effective in influencing overall participant functioning as well as specific target outcomes, including family functioning and parenting, and appear worthy of support” (p. 765). In other words, there is some level of evidenced-based support to suggests that remarital counseling may also be well supported with the appropriate and meticulously conceptualized educational and/or enrichment programs.

The dynamic of stepfamilies introduced above connotes that some couples may be considered at higher risks for marital problems in the future than others. If this postulation is in fact true, the question arises as to what may be some of the other contributory factors that put some couples at higher marital risks. In an Australian study conducted by Halford, O’Donnell, Lizzio, and Wilson, (2006), 374 newly married couples were tested for the hypothesis that: “religious service attendance, income, age, education, female parental divorce, male parental aggression, cohabitation before marriage, forming a stepfamily, relationship aggression, or low relationship satisfaction predicts attendance at marriage education” (p. 161). Attendance to premarital education programs was reliably associated with attendance to religious services and not cohabiting before marriage, “but not reliably associated with the risk factors” (p. 161). There was also a “lack of reliable association of education attendance with relationship aggression and/or satisfaction or negative family-of origin experiences” (p. 162). In addition, this study reported that, “income, education, age, prior marriage, and forming a step-family were not reliably related to attendance” (p. 162). The study also revealed that many non-religious couples were not aware that premarital education was a resource available to them and that strategic marketing should be employed to heighten mainstream population awareness.

There are obvious complexities, attending variables and nuances associated with both premarital and remarital counseling. As such, I posit that there is a need for ongoing research to explore a plethora of relevant variables. Some of the evaluating factors that may affect couple and relationship study outcomes include: (a) the context of the study’s setting, (b) ethnicity, (c) economic status, (d) family functionality, and (e) parenting styles just to mention a few. Given the liberal marital approaches that continue to evolve in today’s postmodern culture, additional considerations should also be examined such as: (a) how many marriages has each individual been involved in prior to embarking on an educational program, (b) are the individuals cohabiting or are they living apart, (c) if married, at what stage of the marriage are the couple prepared to engage in a CRE program (Lucier-Greer & Adler-Baeder, 2012). In summary, there is empirical data which suggest that couple and relationship programs in various contexts have met with favorable outcomes, yet there remains a need for research that incorporates additional contextual diversity. Lucier-Greer and Adler-Baeder (2012) succinctly surmise this perspective noting that, “quality research designs framed with an ecocultural lens using control groups and long-term follow-up procedures are needed” (p. 766).

References

Fawcett, E. B., Hawkins, A. J., Blanchard, V. L., & Carroll, J. S. (2010). Do premarital education programs work? A meta-analytic study. Family Relations, 59(3), 232-239. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1741-3729.2010.00598.x
Halford, W. K., O’Donnell, C., Lizzio, A., & Wilson, K. L. (2006). Do couples at high risk of relationship problems attend premarriage education? Journal of Family Psychology, 20(1), 160-163. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1037/0893-3200.20.1.160
Lucier-Greer, M. & Adler-Baeder, F. (2012). Does couple and relationship education work for individuals in stepfamilies? A meta-analytic study. Family Relations, 61(5), 756-769. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1741-3279.2012.00728.x
Murray, C. E. & Murray, T. L. (2004). Solution-focused premarital counseling: Helping couples build a vision for their marriage. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 30(3), 349-358. Retrieved from Psy Articles
Stanley, S. M., Amato, P. R., Johnson, C. A. & Markham, H. J. (2006). Premarital education, marital quality, and marital stability: Findings from a large, random household survey. Journal of Family Psychology, 20, 117-126. Retrieved from https://doi.org/ 10.1037/0893-3200.20.1.117
Wright, H. N. (1992). The premarital counseling handbook. Chicago: Moody Publishers.

Thursday, February 1, 2024

Discerning Between Spiritual Warfare and Mental Health

Thursday, February 1, 2024 @ 8:41 AM

I have heard a variety of approaches to how to resolve issues for life’s problems based on whether they are mental health problems or if they are considered spiritual problems.

Note: I am going to assume that most readers have an understanding of what the Bible says regarding spiritual warfare. If you are unfamiliar a list of Bible passages can be found at the end of the post.

Some people say that mental health problems and spiritual problems are distinctly separate issues. Mental health problems require therapy and/or medication, while spiritual problems require prayer and spiritual discipline.

Others say that there is no such thing as mental health problems. They believe that mental health problems are problems that arise from unrepentant sin and have been mislabeled as mental health.

I don’t think that viewing issues as exclusively mental health or exclusively spiritual represent the entirety of what we see happening in the world. I think there is an overlap between spiritual warfare and mental health problems, and that it is difficult, if not impossible to make clear distinctions between the two. For example, if we were to define the source of the problem based on which “treatment” provided the best outcome; there are people who testify that they were freed from alcoholism through prayer alone, there are those who have overcome alcohol addiction using a mental health approach and there are those who recovered through prayer, spiritual and mental health support (a combination).

Since mental health and spiritual support are both able to assist people in healing, we should learn when it is best to use each approach, but when possible, an interdisciplinary approach can be very useful. First, mental health approaches are often very compatible with a Biblical approach to the same issue. For example, CBT techniques that involve replacing distorted thoughts with more reasonable thoughts are compatible with Bible verses that talk about renewing our mind with the truth of scripture. If we use scripture to help us challenge false beliefs then we are able to connect the spiritual with mental health.

Mental Health Approaches Through a Spiritual Lens

Any mental health approach that can be used in a way that is consistent with scripture should be used when it is appropriate to do so. Mental health approaches, specifically the ones that help us challenge and change sinful thoughts and behaviors can be useful no matter what the person is dealing with, these techniques are not exclusive to mental health problems.

For example, someone could use the three column technique from CBT to help them identify false beliefs and replace them with more Biblical ones. In this technique the person creates three columns. The first column is for situations, the second for feelings and the third for thoughts. This technique can be very useful for distinguishing between thoughts and feelings. This allows people to see how their thoughts impact their emotions and can create more meaningful change when false beliefs are identified and replaced.

Taking medication to help with a mental health problem can be a useful tool to assist your brain in forming more positive approaches to your problem. For someone who takes anti-anxiety medication, they can also use scripture to help renew their mind and reduce their anxiety. This combination can create better results since the focus on scripture reinforces the changes in the brain made by medication and the medication reinforces the relief provided through encouraging scripture.

A Multidisciplinary Approach

The seminary that I attend recommends that if someone is dealing with a spiritual affliction that they should see: (1) a Christian counselor to help them change sinful behaviors and thoughts, (2) a spiritual director to help them with their relationship with God, and (3) seek deliverance prayer.

Using these three approaches benefits the Christian by strengthening their faith and to guard against a return of spiritual attacks that is mentioned in Luke 11:14-28.

Could this be spiritual?

I have had conversations with Christians who are skeptical of spiritual warfare. Some say that they think Biblical passages reflect a poor understanding of mental health and they didn’t know how to explain it. I find this unsatisfying, because even if you assume that Jesus was only healing people, when the Bible speaks of demons causing people to scream when they leave, this seems to suggest something else. If this was a straight forward healing, why did it involve screaming?

I’ve also spoken to people who believe that spiritual warfare occurs only in places like Africa, but not in North America or places that are primarily Christian. I wonder if this is simply a statement made from a lack of experience. I and others I know have seen manifestations of demonic activity in Canada and the US. I have been witness to people being thrown to the ground, shaking and involuntary screaming that was relieved through prayer.

Any problem that has become repetitive and difficult to break could have a spiritual basis. Things such as anxiety and grief can be the result of a spiritual attack. I was once telling a friend a story of an unpleasant experience I had and he began to weep. I was shocked because he was in tears over something that I myself was not upset about. I prayed that he would be filled with a spirit of joy and he stopped crying and became calm. If you see some odd or out of place behavior it doesn’t hurt to stop and pray, “Lord, what shall I do? How should I pray?”

What to do if a problem could have a spiritual basis?

My recommendation is very simple. Pray the positive: healing, peace, joy, patience, freedom, life, etc. Whether or not a problem is specifically spiritual or not it can still be improved by prayer that focuses on the positive.

From people I have spoken to who lead spiritual deliverance ministries, there are two ways demonic spirits can be removed from a person; one is through specific prayer for them to be removed, the other is through being filled with God’s spirit so that the demonic spirit has no choice but to leave. Trying to cast out a spirit will only work if there is a demonic spirit and even the disciples had difficulty casting out some spirits. When we pray for the positive then God is able to act in ways we cannot see or understand.

Acts 19:13-16 describes the experience of men who came under spiritual attack when they were praying against demonic spirits. Spiritual warfare appears to be quite complex and certain approaches carry less risk than others.

Suicide: Demonic spirit or Mental Health problem?

From my observation, I think there is one exception to the idea that a mental health problem could be a spiritual or mental health problem. I think when it comes to suicidal thoughts, behaviors, and actions it is 100% mental health AND 100% spiritual. Any time I have been in the presence of a person who recently or subsequently made a suicide attempt I discerned the presence of a demonic spirit. If someone you know is suicidal they should seek mental health AND spiritual support as quickly as possible.

Scriptures that I would recommend for people experiencing suicidal thoughts are the ones about God’s love, forgiveness, mercy and blessing towards us. Other helpful topics are verses about purpose, healing, and transformation.

For additional support you can book a consult here. https://www.incrementalhealthtips.com/

Liz Millican is a Registered Psychotherapist in Ontario, Canada. She has a master of divinity in Clinical Counseling from Tyndale University, a private Christian University.

Scripture References

Exodus 20:4-6; 34:6-7 Generational punishment for sin and blessing for obedience.

Matthew 8:16-34 Jesus heals people of illnesses, casts our demons, calms the storm and casts demons into animals.

Matthew 9:27-34 Jesus heals the blind and mute.

Matthew 17:14-21 Casting out demons requires faith and some disciples were unable to do it.

Mark 1:21-34 Spirits manifest physically in people.

Contrast: Mark 1:40-45 Jesus heals a man of leprosy without mention of spirits, suggesting some sickness is not spiritually caused, but still able to be healed.

Mark 6:13 [NIV] They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them. (Healing of sick seem somewhat separated from those with demons.)

Mark 16:9 Mary Magdalene had been freed from seven demons.

Luke 4:31-37 Man thrown on the ground by a spirit.

Luke 8:26-39 Many spirits can make someone strong and “out of their mind.”

Luke 9:37-43 Demon causes screaming, foaming and throws the person to the ground.

Luke 11:14-28 Pray and obey God to avoid demonic attacks from returning.

Acts 16:16-18 Paul waited several days before casting a spirit out of a fortune teller who was annoying them.

Acts 19:13-16 Stronger demonic spirits can attack someone who tries to cast them out.

Ephesian 6:10-18 Put on the armor of God and be prepared for spiritual warfare.