“The big goal in therapy is helping families deal with the pain and brokenness in their relationship and restore wholeness.” On the prevention side of family life, counseling with individuals and families in developing positive parenting skills, marriage enrichment and couples communication sessions are helpful opportunities for tuning up your marriage and refreshing your family life. We offer workshops on marriage and family throughout the year. See our workshops page for more information.
Crisis in Relationships
Sometimes we find ourselves feeling like the “wheels just fell off” on our ride through life. To enter into counseling when a crisis takes place is a very healthy way to care for yourself and your relationship. Very often, the burden of feeling helpless and victimized is overwhelming when a crisis strikes. This is the very reason to seek out a therapist who can help you find your way through the maze of feelings, decisions, self-doubt and helplessness that you may be experiencing.
Some of the crisis that would merit counseling:
- You have discovered your spouse was having an affair
- The doctor has informed you that your child has a genetic defect that could be life threatening
- You have just learned that you have cancer
- You have found yourself crying for months after the loss of a loved one and you can’t stop the tears.
- You have just been “downsized” from your job
- You have gone through a major trauma (robbery, rape or returned from a war zone, for example)
- You have just moved to a new location and feel isolated and alone
- You are struggling with an addiction and would like to get sober and practice sobriety
These are just a few examples of the kinds of crisis people experience and may find hope and healing through counseling. The Chinese character that stands for “crisis” combines two words – “danger” and “opportunity”. We can grow through a crisis and find new strength and vitality as we heal. A therapist can help you grow from the “danger” side of crisis to new”opportunities” and new life.
Survival Skills for Parents
Perhaps you have found yourself asking some of these questions as a parent:
- What do I do when I can’t manage the behavior of my child?
- How do I find time to parent my children when I don’t even have time for myself?
- How can I make my spouse understand that I have needs as well as our children?
- How can I work through the anger I have about the lack of responsibility my spouse takes with our children?
- How shall we deal with our children when we are facing a separation or a divorce?
What can I do to instill faith in my children?
- Sometimes I feel like I am going crazy. I don’t have time for anything and everything is falling apart. Am I really going crazy?
- My child has special needs and has been diagnosed as having major adjustment problems what do I do and who do I turn to for help?
- My kids are approaching middle school age and I want them to know how to respect themselves and not give in to the passions of teenage hormones. How can I help them understand?
- We have a blended family and I don’t know how to make everyone work together. We seem to take sides and are divided on every issue. What can we do to change this?
- Our family has just experienced the death of a loved one. What do I do about the grief we all feel and how is this grief affecting my child?
These are just a few of the questions about which we have worked with parents and children. Each family is unique. As we have counseled with parents, we have worked on the behavioral issues that parents face, not only as adults, but also with their children. It is helpful to have the entire family present when we are working on parent-child issues. As the family grows in understanding how the family unit is a living, breathing network of relationships, the aspects of concern can be addressed more profoundly and the solutions to the struggles may be implemented with the entire family working together – a much better alternative than expecting all the changes to be made by one member of the family.
No matter what the issues families face, having someone who can help give direction, encouragement, and support is an important ingredient in resolving the problems. Counseling with families on their journey to healing is a joy we find most rewarding in our work as counselors.
Counseling Adolescents & Children
Family counseling may include the children of a family in the therapy session. Single parent families, blended families, new parents, working parents with children – all types of family units have stress and sometimes run out of ideas about how to deal with discipline and positive behavior management between parents and children. Sometimes other kinds of concerns about the children in a family need to be addressed: Children who have been sexually abused, or who have been through a traumatic accident or illness; children who have behavior issues that are more intense than what seems to be normal; children who may have mental or physical challenges that set them apart from their peer groups. When the whole family unit is together in a session, the therapist will be able to pinpoint how best to bring healing to the family.
Marriage Enrichment & Couple Communication
Keep your marriage fresh and growing no matter how long (or short) you have been married. On the prevention side of family life, counseling with individuals and families about positive parenting skills, marriage enrichment and couples communication sessions are all helpful opportunities for tuning up your marriage and refreshing your family life. We offer workshops on marriage and family throughout the year. See my workshops page for more information.
In marriage counseling the best way to repair the relationship that seems to be broken is to have both partners in the room together. The therapist can then observe where there may be “splinters” in the communication that need to be addressed and removed. Within the safe haven of the therapy session new ways to communicate may be practiced as the therapist acts as a “coach” in helping the couple find healing alternatives to making their relationship work.
Pre-Marriage Preparation & Counseling For Couples
One of life’s biggest decisions is for two people to commit to a life together as husband and wife. If there is specialized training driving a car or flying a plane, why not take advantage of specialized training for creating a lasting relationship with your spouse! The pre-marriage preparation and counseling consists of at least 5-6 one hour sessions which include the following topics: increasing communication and listening skills, how to show your love to your spouse, the good news about sex, how God’s love strengthens a marriage relationship, relating to your relatives, expressing expectations, and productive problem solving.
As an ordained pastor, Gary can also provide guidance for the creation of the wedding service and the shaping of the marriage vows couples share with each other on their wedding day. If requested, Gary can preside at your wedding as a way to follow through, turning what you have learned in marriage preparation, into the lasting promises you make as a couple on your wedding day.
Relational Healing is an intentional method of mending the brokenness in the lives of people who either work together or are in relationship as a family. The practice of relational healing includes learning new skills in listening, discovering the hurt that has divided you, being vulnerable to revealing your emotional wounds to the other, rebuilding trust in the relationship and forgiving one another. Relational healing is most effective when a spiritual dimension is included in the process. When God is invited into the healing process the opportunity to practice unconditional love is a much greater reality. This kind of unconditional acceptance of the other grows out of the heart of God’s love for each of us that is most evident in the life of Jesus Christ.
This method of reconciling relationships has been developed by the Navigators as a process to bring healing to fractured staff relationships. But the application of the process works very well with families also.
“Fixing” the problem is not to be seen as a magic bullet. The “fixing” is a process of growth, vulnerability, learning new relational skills, understanding the other, love, rebuilding trust, and forgiveness.
The act of forgiveness in this process is not an all-at-once experience. This is a learning about self and the other that is based, not on your time, but on God’s time. So those who are restless and uneasy about taking time to mend a relationship need to readjust their internal clock to slow down and let God’s love lead the healing.
As we counsel with families in their journey to rebuild their relationship, we believe that the healing of the relationship is truly a sacred experience. Together, we can observe how hurt, anger, distrust, and even hate, give way to listening, understanding, new behaviors that rebuild trust, and practicing forgiveness that is based on God’s unconditional love.
This process is an important choice for families to decide to work through which can make a lasting difference in your relationship.
Relational healing may be applied in the counseling setting with families; or the process may be presented in a workshop format. Contact me for more information.