For about 10 years now, I’ve been going regularly to therapy. It’s taken me years to say this out loud because when I first decided to go, therapy had a negative stigma in my mind. “Only crazy people go to therapy,” I wrongly thought. But soon after I started in seminary, I realized that the world of ministry required that I take care of my own emotional and spiritual health, which included talking to a counselor on a regular basis, in order to help others with theirs. Since then, it’s become a part of my regular discipline and practice. Therapists and counselors have helped me in good times and in bad. They’ve opened up ways for me to see myself and celebrate my gifts as well as increase my awareness of my weaknesses.

In the Chattahoochee Valley, we are blessed to have a resource in the Pastoral Institute. The PI specializes in all different kinds of counseling–dealing with grief, family troubles, addiction, emotional and physical abuse, and many other things that people struggle with on a daily basis. They are a faith-based organization, but one that is open to all backgrounds. The PI was instrumental in helping St. Nicholas process the grief of losing their first rector, Beverley McEachern, who herself worked with the PI. I have gone to the PI for counseling, coaching, and for ministry training, and know many of the gifted people who offer services there.

One stumbling block for people going to counseling is financial. That’s why starting July 1, 2011, St. Nicholas is teaming with the PI for a new venture. Through a limited grant, the PI offers congregations a discounted rate for parishioners to receive counseling services. Congregants only pay $25 per counseling session for up to 6 individual or 12 family sessions per family annually. All you have to do is set up an appointment with the counselor of your choice and tell them you go to St. Nicholas. No matter what your insurance covers, this is the standard fee. The PI offers this to St. Nicholas for one year at no cost to us. In the second year, St. Nicholas pays 50% of cost to participate ($425) out of our budget. In the third year, we pay 100% of the cost to participate ($850). Of course, we can opt out at any time if no one takes us up on it. This is a fantastic gift to our congregation and an opportunity to further your own emotional health.

I’m not a licensed counselor, so beyond spiritual issues, I end up referring people to the PI anyway for things I am not equipped to handle long term. This program through the PI helps me as well by providing our parishioners with the best counseling available with little cost to the individual or family. So it’s a win/win. No one should ever not go to counseling because of financial reasons, so even if the $25 per session is a stretch, please let me know.

You don’t have to fight your battles alone. As always, with any spiritual matters you need to deal with, come see me. If there are deeper issues you need help with, please take advantage of this service so healing can begin to occur and God can restore you to the person He created you to be. If you’re not sure, please come and talk to me and we’ll walk the journey together.