Well it is Tuesday after the Five Minute Friday prompt, which was Coffee. I try to write at least once a week and the Five Minute Friday community is a way to keep me on task with that habit. However, life happens and I sometimes miss the deadline. Therefore you are getting the FMF post on Tuesday!
So I had mentioned on instagram that I opened my coffee station in my therapy office after two years! People often come to the therapy office a little nervous the first time and I want them to feel welcome, fix themselves a cup of coffee and enter into conversation. I want the environement to feel safe, hospitable and not sterile and clinical. If anything I want people to feel warmth and acceptance when they walk in my office.
Maybe this would be a good time to explain who I am.
I'm a therapist.
Therapists in Michigan have many different licenses, depending on their school and it's focus. I am a limited license psychologist, this means I have a Masters degree and not a Doctorate degree in clinical psychology, and it means that I obtain supervision from a fully licensed psychologist.
I am also a Christian.
My faith informs my practice. But many people who come to me are of different faith background or have no faith at all or desire for it. And everyone whom I am able to work with, I hope feels equally cared for. I don't explicitly discuss faith unless someone wants to. I see my task as helping people remove roadblocks to whatever is standing in their way of growth, and sometimes those are even obstacles to faith, whether that is recognized or not. So I see my role as partnering with a person to clear the way for any growth that needs to happen in their life.
I conceptualize the process of therapy as three interwoven stages of Knowing, Healing, and Growing. As people know more about themselves, and the events that have influenced who they are, they can start to heal from past pain, and wounds, and they can grow into their most authentice selves.
Being a Christian and a therapist at times puts me in an awkward position with both camps.
My fellow Christians often don't trust therapists because secular therapy often leaves out God explicitly and believes humans are fully capable of healing themselves. And sometimes "the self" is promoted at the expense of others.
While my fellow therapists and counselors often struggles with Christians for often judging people who are hurting and seeing answers to pain as trite and simplistic. These are broad viewpoints and not everyone in each camp sees things the same way.( Just as not all therapists and not all Christians can be identified through such narrow lenses)
People often specifically seek out Christian therapists
In my work, I have found that often people want a Christian therapist. They want someone who understands human nature, how the brain works, how trauma occurs and how that changes a person. They want someone who understands relationship dynamics, and works to heal relationships rather than give up on them. But they want someone who shares similar values and beliefs, who worships and honors God. They want someone who doesn't prescribe treatment contrary to their beliefs. So my goal is to have a firm understaning of human behavior and as firm of an understanding of God as I can in order to understand how He works to heal others, and to honor him in the work that I do.
When I was a graduate student at Wheaton College, we had a Virtues course. In this course we analyzed psychological theories in order to tease out the Christian virtues of each. We did this so that in practice, we could help people in a way that would be God honoring, and in line with evidence based solutions. God made the brain, he made us relational beings in need of others. Clearly, by living in a fallen world and being broken creatures ourselves, things don't work the way they may have been intended. We all have wounds. We need healing. We need understanding of our condition. We were made to grow and to flourish. So I enter into this work with profound humility. I am in process of knowing, healing and growing myself. (As each one of us hopefully are). And because I am in process, I strive to stay humble and curious and teachable myself.
Anyway, I wish I could have you all in my office for coffee and conversation. But since that is impossible I have decided to do a series to explore what Christian counseling may look like. (I can't speak for anybody but myself) How I look at life through a lens of both theology (study of the nature of God)
and psychology(the study of the mind and behavior) and how I conceptualize growth and change. It's a tall order, there is no one who knows the depths of the mystery of God, and being human is a mysterious complex thing as well. But both are worthy of lifelong exploration. So stay tuned You'll recognize these posts as I'll put them under the label Coffee chats with Wendy. And check out my good friends and their posts on FMF site. Join if you are a writer who would like to stay on track for writing consistently and be part of a community of like-minded folk.