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January 2, 2021

Why Counseling?

By Julie Hotalen

Most of us don’t think twice about going to the doctor for an annual check-up, and many dental insurances cover two cleanings a year. This is all considered preventative medicine. But when it comes to investing in our mental health, many people hesitate. They may think they need to hit rock bottom before they can justify seeing a therapist. Or they’re concerned about the social stigma of going to therapy. Sometimes people avoid counseling because they’re afraid of what they might uncover, they’re embarrassed, or they don’t believe they’re worth it. 

But the truth is, you ARE worth it, and investing – even preventatively – in your mental and emotional wellbeing is wise, especially as we venture out of 2020. Life as we knew it was turned completely upside down in a matter of days last March. Our kids never returned to a traditional school setting for the remainder of the academic year, we were forced to innovate our jobs in unthinkable ways, and our economy is still hanging on by a thread. 

I remember watching a television show shortly after the mask mandates came into effect. Seeing people greet each other with handshakes and hugs left me feeling eerily uneasy. The feeling confused me because there was nothing abnormal about what was happening in the show…except that I had been abruptly thrust into this new world where those things would never happen. We make memes and t-shirts and jokes about the chaos that is 2020, but underneath the banter, we are all grieving the lives we lost. And that grief deserves a space to exist. 

That’s the simplest definition of counseling: It is a safe space to allow ourselves to process our experiences, emotions, and relationships. The more aware we are of their existence, the less likely they will surface in painful or destructive ways. Because whether we realize it or not, our parents’ divorce, and those feelings of insecurity related to being teased on the bus, and our failed relationships – all of it shapes who we are today. These experiences play an influential role in how we perceive the world, God, ourselves, and others.

We weren’t designed to journey through life alone. Our brains were created to rely on both verbal and nonverbal communication. But over the last several decades, the way we interact with one another has changed dramatically. We’re expected to glean the tone, intent, and context of a conversation from text messages. Facebook posts. Emails. We are surrounded by thousands of people virtually and have access to infinite knowledge, yet we feel so alone and empty. For centuries mankind ended their days sitting at a table, sharing a meal with  generations of loved ones. Now, it’s not uncommon for our days to end with takeout and individual screens for the whole family.

As believers, we know we can cling to the rich truth from the gospel and saturate ourselves in the teachings of our pastor and great theologians. We cry out to God in prayer and practice personal worship. But so many times, the things we know to be true in our head get lost on the way to our hearts. It is both our brokenness and the brokenness of this world that has rerouted the path, leaving us confused and hurting. 

Gospel-centered counseling acknowledges the brokenness, the confusion, the hurt, the isolation. It seeks to mend the path from the head to the heart, so that the truth, the teachings, the hymns and prayers can be reconnected. Counseling plays a role in wellness because it has the ability to connect the physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental parts of us together. And after this last year, we have lost so many of our usual avenues of connection. I love being part of a church that is working to push back on the stigma of counseling and utilize it as a tool on the path to spiritual maturity. 

Grace’s mission is helping people take their next steps toward Christ, and I want to propose that counseling could very well be a next step for many of us. Perhaps, even for you. Change and unknowns are scary, and counseling is no exception. But we want to meet you where you are and walk with you on your journey. It would be our honor to be invited into your life in that way.

Interested in learning more about scheduling an appointment? Email counseling@discovergrace.com or call 407-519-1307 and get in touch with our support staff who can find the right therapist to walk with you in taking your next step toward Christ.

 

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