What Changes for a Church when Counseling Becomes Formal?

What does it mean for a church to have a “counseling ministry”? It is one thing to say “we all do counseling every day when we hear each other’s struggles and seek to offer comfort or guidance from the Bible” and another thing to say “our church has a counseling ministry and we would be happy to help you schedule an appointment with a member of our counseling team.”

Most churches and pastors can intuitively sense a difference in these two statements, but have a hard time articulating the difference… and an even harder time understanding the implications. This is a primary reason why churches most often avoid doing anything that is called “counseling.”

A significant transition does occur when we move from one-another ministry to formal counseling. One another ministry happens organic, helping conversations emerging from a naturally-paired relationship.

  • People get to know one another because they are in the same small group, serve on the same ministry team, or have kids the same age.
  • Conversation begins with the day-to-day events of life and moves towards confiding the struggles of life.
  • Trust is established on the basis of shared-life and respect for how each other approaches life.

Formal counseling, by contrast, occurs as a result of an “artificial pairing.” A struggle in life causes an individual to seek out a helper with particular qualifications. Key markers for a church to be aware of (both for liability and good member-care reasons) about this change are:

  • A request for counseling is made by the helpee.
  • The church assigns or recommends a helper who would not otherwise be a part of the helpees life.
  • The helpee comes to the helper with the expectation that counsel will be provided on the basis of helper’s training, role, or experience.

When a church facilitates a counseling-related artificial pairing it has a responsibility to both the helper and the helpee. To the helper (those they enlist as volunteer lay counselors or those they refer to for professional counseling) the church should ensure:

(1) there is a reasonable opportunity for success on the part of the helper and

(2) that the helpee comes with accurate expectations of type of help being provided.

A church should know the scope of care possible by a given ministry or individual and only refer individuals to that ministry who are a good-fit for what that ministry provides.

To the helpee the church should provide clear information about:

(1) the type of care a given ministry or counselor provides;

(2) the level of training a counselor or ministry leader has completed;

(3) the type of curriculum or activity that will be involved in the counseling process; and

(4) an estimate of the duration of the helping relationship.

When these ministries are provided through the church, this requires clear information on a church’s website, a well-informed receptionist who fields call about counseling inquiries, and quality intake forms.

The question could be raised, “If one-another ministry is counseling, then why treat formal counseling more stringently?” A parallel with missions is helpful. Every Christian should live missionally by seeking opportunities to share the gospel and advance the cause of Christ. However, almost every church or missions agency screens formal missionary candidates to make sure they are a good fit and properly equipped before sending them to do mid-term or career mission work.

In this sense, the words of Stephen Neil about missions would be applicable to counseling, “When everything is mission, nothing is mission.”[i] Passing out communion or being a positive influence in a community sports league is different from taking the gospel to an unreached people group.

Similarly, when everything is counseling, nothing is counseling; the word “counseling” loses any meaning as an activity distinct from “doing life together.” The immensely beneficial interaction of a small group to provide an experience of safe relationships is different from someone understanding how to guide another through the traumatic effects of childhood sexual abuse. A friend listening to the chaos of a marital argument is different from guiding a couple through a decision about separation during an ongoing affair when children are “taking sides” in order not to lose contact with the less involved parent.

But that does not in any way downplay that essential nature of one-another ministry. The sexual abuse survivor needs a small group in which to experience healthy relationships while learning how to cultivate them. The couple recovering from adultery needs friends to call when they’re discouraged, tempted, or confused. However, without the training and formality of higher levels of competence, these situations could overwhelm the small group and friends to the point that the one-another ministers withdraw.

When counseling does involve an artificial pairing, the counselor should seek to return or involve care from natural pairings as early as possible. An excellent model to allow for this is the advocate system developed by Garret Higbee.[ii] When this is not possible, then part of “graduating” to formal counseling should be a discussion of how to best involve the counselee’s one-another relationships to solidify the progress made in counseling.

More information to help your church mobilize an effective counseling ministry will be available at the following conference:

COliabilitypossibilities2UNSELING IN YOUR LOCAL CHURCH:
Understanding the Liabilities & Possibilities of Lay Care Ministries
Date: Friday January 23, 2015
Time: 9am to 5pm
Location: The Summit Church, Brier Creek Campus
Address: 2335 Presidential Drive; Durham, NC 27703
Cost: $99 / person (lunch provided)
RSVP and Find More Information Here

 

[i]Stephen Neill, Creative Tension: The Duff Lectures, 1958 (London: Edinburgh House, 1959), 81.

[ii]Excellent resource to help churches pair formal care with informal care to allow for this transition is Garrett Higbee, Uncommon Community (available at www.store.harvestbiblechapel.org) .

Reflecting on Statistics Related to Blended Families

What can we learn from looking at statistics related to blended families? We do not learn how to help particular families, because the challenges of each family (blended or not) are unique. But we can learn a significant amount about the common challenges that face blended families.

Let’s start by examining the causes of blended families.

  • 55% of blended families result from remarriage after divorce
  • 30% of blended families occur when an unwed mother marries
    • Related statistic: 40% of first time mothers are unwed
  • 15% of blended families result from remarriage after a spouses death

In each of these instances children are being raised in a home with one biological and one non-biological parent. We begin to see that the challenges that face a blended family can be different.

  • Children who may have never known their father or had their father in their home
  • Children who want their family to return to how they knew it before a divorce
  • Children who are grappling with grief after the death of a parent

We can also examine the divorce rate that exists in the marriages of blended families.

  • 42-45% of first marriages end in divorce.
  • 60-65% of remarriages end in divorce.

It becomes obvious that remarriage is more difficult than marriage. There are many factors that can contribute to this, but the logic “we learned from our first marriage and won’t make the same mistakes again” is not sufficient to ensure a healthy marriage. This statement may be true about “past mistakes” it does not account for new, unknown challenges.

We can also consider when the divorce tends to occur in a blended family as compared to development of a sense of family identity.

  • Most remarried couples divorce within 3 years.
  • Stepfamilies begin to think like a family in their 2-3 year of existence.
  • It takes 5-7 years for the average step family to feel “normal.”

We can see that the majority of blended family divorces occur before they have given adequate time for their family to “jell” as one. This means that their expectations for how a blended family should bond and develop a sense of common identity were either inaccurate or absent.

Statistics cannot make anything that is hard easy, but they can help us give appropriate weight towards identifying and preparing for unexpected challenges. If we take their caution in this way, then statistics will have served us well.

If you or someone you know is part of or considering starting a blended family, we invite you to attend the following seminar.

GUIDANCE FOR BLENDED FAMILIES
Date: Saturday November 15
Time: 4:00 to 7:30 pm
Location: The Summit Church, Brier Creek South Venue
Address: 2415-107 Presidential Drive; Durham, NC 27703
Cost: Free
RSVP Here

Blended_families

Tweets of the Week 10.28.14

There is great value in saying something in a memorable, concise manner. Twitter has caused us to make this a near spiritual discipline. For my own growth (as a generally verbose individual… that’s a long way of saying “wordy”) and for the benefit of others, I highlight tweets each week that deliver a big message in a few words.

Video: Overcoming Depression-Anxiety, A Suffering Paradigm (Step 2)

Below is a video from the presentation of “Overcoming Depression-Anxiety: A Suffering Paradigm.” For the various counseling options available from this material visit www.summitrdu.com/counseling.

The complementing studies  Overcoming Depression-Anxiety: A Responsibility Paradigm and Towards a Christian Perspective of Mental Illness will also available in a video format after their presentation

NOTE: Many people have asked how they can get a copy of the seminar notebook referenced in this verbal presentation. Summit members can pick up a copy of the notebook in the church office. For those outside the Summit family, you can request a copy from Amy LaBarr (alabarr@summitrdu.com), office administrator over counseling.

Facing the Pain without Running Away
ACKNOWLEDGE the specific history and realness of my suffering.

Depression-Anxiety Suffering Paradigm Part 2 from The Sam James Institute on Vimeo.

On-Line Evaluation: Types of Depression & Anxiety Evaluation

Resource: Depression-Anxiety Daily Symptom Chart

Memorize: Psalm 44:23-26 (ESV), “Awake! Why are you sleeping, O Lord? Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever! Why do you hide your face? Why do you forget our affliction and oppression? For our soul is bowed down to the dust; our belly clings to the ground. Rise up; come to our help! Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love!” As you memorize this passage reflect upon these key points:

  • “Psalm” – God inspired these words to be recorded in Scripture because he knew we would need to speak them.
  • “Awake!” – The Bible gives voice to a little heresy to show it understands our lives don’t always make sense.
  • “Do not reject us” – Even in great emotional pain, the psalmist trusted God with his honest emotions and fears.
  • “Our soul is bowed down” – Emotional pain penetrated to the core of the psalmist and he was hungry for hope.
  • “Come to our help!” – The hope in this passage is not in the content of its words, but in who it calls upon.

Teaching Notes

“Since you might actually enjoy mania (at least when it is not extreme), you might be reluctant to try medication. Talk to wise counselors and your family about this. You might decide to try medication as a way to better love others (p. 23).” Ed Welch in Bipolar Disorder

“In anxiety, the person often overestimates the threat or danger they are facing, and at the same time usually underestimates their own capacity to cope with the problem (p. 31).” Chris Williams, Paul Richards, and Ingrid Whitton in I’m Not Supposed to Feel Like This

“The present age of anxiety is characterized by pressing concerns about the threat of terrorism, global warming, the beginning of the end of oil, immigration and pluralism, the widening economic gap between those who have and those who have not, and the outsourcing of American jobs. These concerns are legitimate, and they will demand our and our children’s undivided attention for years to come. The anxiety that we feel is compounded daily or, in some cases, hourly by skilled fear entrepreneurs who know how to push our buttons. As if the issues listed here, eliciting legitimate concern and anxiety were not enough, some fear entrepreneurs introduce a host of potentially threatening crises that keep us constantly on edge (p. 17).” Kirk Bingaman in Treating the New Anxiety

“Faith, instead of being a help, can sometimes cause extra problems in dealing with depression. There is, for instance, the false guilt associated with the false conclusion that real Christians don’t get depressed. There is also the oft-mistaken tendency to locate the cause of our mental suffering in our spiritual life (p. 5).” David Murray in Christians Get Depressed Too

“This can be a painful process of self-discovery. Although we are frail and weak creatures, we like to think that we can cope with everything that life throws at us… Just because we coped with great stresses at some time in our lives does not guarantee that we will cope with lesser stresses at other points in our lives. We age, our hormones and brain chemistry change, and our responsibilities increase as marriage and children come along. Sometimes an adverse reaction to life events will be delayed, even for some years (p. 34).” David Murray in Christians Get Depressed Too

“To be human is to be afraid. We are small; the world is big (p. 5).” Ed Welch in When I Am Afraid

20 Tweet-Size Summaries of Gospel-Centered Counseling: How Christ Changes Lives by Bob Kellemen

GCC Cover JpegMy friend Bob Kellemen has released a new book Gospel-Centered Counseling: How Christ Changes Lives and I thought my readers would benefit from the 20 twitter-sized summaries of the key points from his book.

  1. To view the Bible accurately and use the Bible competently we must understand the Bible’s story the way God tells it—as a gospel victory narrative.
  2. The supremacy of Christ’s gospel, the sufficiency of Christ’s wisdom, and the superiority of Christ’s Church provide the wisdom we need for counseling in a broken world.
  3. We discover wisdom for how to live life in a broken world from the wisest person who ever lived—Christ!
  4. We must know the Trinitarian Soul Physician personally to be a powerful soul physician.
  5. To know the God of peace and the peace of God we must know our Triune God in the fullness of His holy love demonstrated in the cross of Christ
  6. Because Satan attempts to plant seeds of doubt about God’s good heart, God calls us to crop the Christ of the cross back into the picture.
  7. The whole, healthy, holy person’s inner life increasingly reflects the inner life of Christ—relationally, rationally, volitionally, and emotionally.
  8. Biblical counselors pursue compassionate and wise counseling where our love abounds in depth of knowledge about the heart in the world 
  9. The essence of sin is spiritual adultery—choosing to love anyone or anything more than God.
  10. Sin is not just a thief caught in a crime; sin is an adulterer caught in the act.
  11. Apart from Christ we’re condemned as adulterous spouses, dead in sin, separated from the life of God with depraved heart capacities enslaved to sin.
  12. Sin is what personal beings imagine, think, choose, do, and feel as they desire and love anything or anyone more than Christ.
  13. Fully biblical gospel-centered counseling deals thoroughly both with the sins we have committed and with the evils we have suffered.
  14. We must build our biblical counseling models of change on Christ’s gospel applied to Christians—justified, reconciled, regenerated, and redeemed people.
  15. Through regeneration our new heart has a new want to; through redemption our new heart has a new can do.
  16. Together with all the saints the church is the place to belong to Christ and the Body of Christ and to become like Christ.
  17. Sanctification is a community journey.
  18. As saints who struggle with suffering and sin, we must crop back into the picture our future purity (the wedding) and future victory (the final war).
  19. Sanctification is the art of applying our complete salvation by God’s grace, Spirit, Word, people, and future hope so we increasingly reflect Christ.
  20. Gospel-motivated and empowered heart change puts off and puts on affections, mindsets, purposes, and mood states so we increasingly reflect the heart of Christ.

Guidance for Blended Families: Seminar Preview

“Stepfamilies don’t simply represent two people coming together in marriage; each new stepfamily represents two worlds—worlds of hope, dreams, expectations, habits, traditions, personalities—coming together in a context of loss (p. 6).” Winston T. Smith in Help for Stepfamilies

Do you ever find yourself asking any of these questions?

  • How do we keep up with all the people and relationships that are now a part of our family: husband, wife, ex-husband, ex-wife, four sets of grandparents, siblings, step-siblings, and changing birth orders?
  • How do we keep up with the various schedules, values, and sets of house rules that are now part of our family?
  • How do we parent when our children have “homes” (plural) instead of a home (singular)?
  • How do we parent our children well when they are being affected by adult choices they’re not prepared to understand?
  • What are the hurts and challenges that are “normal” for a blended family?
  • How do we protect our marriage when there are so many things vying for our time and that tend to pull us apart?
  • How do we create a single family identity in blended family?

“Coming to accept your unique challenges and opportunities as a stepfamily is a tremendous first step to finding creative solutions to your dilemmas. If you refuse to admit a difference, you inadvertently shut off your ability to learn new, more effective ways of relating (p. 67).” Ron L. Deal in The Smart Stepfamily

If you find yourself asking these kinds of questions, then this seminar is for you.  There are many challenges to creating a healthy blended family.  This seminar helps you understand the roots of the struggles for each person in the family and the key points of emphasis to create unity in the marriage and family.

“In stepfamilies, the parent-child bonds predate the couple’s relationship, often making the marriage the weakest relationship in the home. And it’s tough to strengthen your marriage when parenting issues constantly push marital closeness to the back burner (p. 23)… There is a honeymoon for couples in stepfamilies, it just comes at the end of the journey and not at the beginning (p. 25).” Ron L Deal in The Smart Stepfamily

GUIDANCE FOR BLENDED FAMILIES
Date: Saturday November 15
Time: 4:00 to 7:30 pm
Location: The Summit Church, Brier Creek South Venue
Address: 2415-107 Presidential Drive; Durham, NC 27703
Cost: Free
RSVP Here

Blended_families

Tweets of the Week 10.21.14

There is great value in saying something in a memorable, concise manner. Twitter has caused us to make this a near spiritual discipline. For my own growth (as a generally verbose individual… that’s a long way of saying “wordy”) and for the benefit of others, I highlight tweets each week that deliver a big message in a few words.

Video: Overcoming Depression-Anxiety, A Suffering Paradigm (Step 1)

Below is a video from the presentation of “Overcoming Depression-Anxiety: A Suffering Paradigm.” For the various counseling options available from this material visit www.summitrdu.com/counseling.

The complementing studies  Overcoming Depression-Anxiety: A Responsibility Paradigm and Towards a Christian Perspective of Mental Illness will also available in a video format after their presentation

NOTE: Many people have asked how they can get a copy of the seminar notebook referenced in this verbal presentation. Summit members can pick up a copy of the notebook in the church office. For those outside the Summit family, you can request a copy from Amy LaBarr (alabarr@summitrdu.com), office administrator over counseling.

“Starting a Hard Journey on Empty”
PREPARE yourself physically, emotionally, and spiritually to face your suffering.

Depression-Anxiety Suffering Paradigm Part 1 from The Sam James Institute on Vimeo.

Memorize: Matthew 11:28-30 (ESV), “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” As you memorize this passage reflect upon these key points:

  • “Come to me… I am gentle” – Hope begins with a relationship with Jesus. He wants you to know he is patient.
  • “Labor and heavy laden” – When battling depression everything feels like a heavy laden toil. Jesus gets it.
  • “Give you rest… for your soul” – There will be steps to take, but Jesus recognizes first you need rest and hope.
  • “Take my yoke” – A yoke tied two oxen to the same plow. Jesus is committing to carry this load with you.
  • “Learn from me” – As Jesus walks with you through this valley of despair, you will learn a great deal from him.

Teaching Notes

“Being depressed is bad enough in itself, but being a depressed Christian is worse. And being a depressed Christian in a church full of people who do not understand depression is like a taste of hell (p. 14).” John Lockley in A Practical Workbook for the Depressed Christian

“Certainly one of the biggest mistakes you can make is to try too much at once. You will fail and be even more depressed (p. 84)… As anxiety and panic attacks are also commonly associated with depression (so much so that doctors are increasingly using the term depression-anxiety when referring to depression), much of what I write will apply to these distressing conditions also (p. 1).” David Murray in Christians Get Depressed Too

“With all the debate about the causes of depression, it is easy to miss the obvious: depression is painful. It is a form of suffering (p. 37).” Ed Welch in Depression, A Stubborn Darkness

“The Psalms treat depression more realistically than many of today’s popular books on Christianity and psychology. David and other Psalmists often found themselves deeply depressed for various reasons. They did not, however, apologize for what they were feeling, nor did they confess it as sin. It was a legitimate part of their relationship with God. They interacted with him through the context of their depression (p. 204).” Steve and Robyn Bloem in Broken Minds

“There are usually no quick fixes. For Christians there will often need to be a balance between medicines for the brain, rest for the body, counsel for the mind, and spiritual encouragement for the soul (p. 30)… We will answer the question ‘What is depression?’ by looking at how it is related to and reflected in five areas of our lives: our life situation, our thoughts, our feelings, our bodies, and our behavior (p. 32).” David Murray in Christians Get Depressed Too

“[On John 5:6] Doctors and pastors are often faced with the frustrating situation of people who need the help they can give, yet are not taking the steps required to benefit from this help. Perhaps they have just learned to live with the problem. Perhaps they have given up hope of getting better. Perhaps they lack the will to play their part in the healing process. Perhaps they are frightened of all the responsibilities of life that would come upon them should they be viewed as well again. Perhaps they would miss the attention and sympathy that being ill may generate… You have no hope of recovery from depression unless you want to recover and are, therefore, prepared to play your own significant part in the recovery process (p. 69-70).” David Murray in Christians Get Depressed Too

“Reading Scripture is a discipline that at times in mental illness is almost impossible and yet remains necessary for spiritual health. Why is this so? Because Scripture bears the saving grace of God (p. 163).” Kathryn Greene-McCreight in Darkness Is My Only Companion

Blog Post: “A Sample Letter to Help Cultivate Community While Struggling with Depression-Anxiety” (Sample of material in the seminar notebook)

Blog Post: “6 Steps to Wise Decision Making About Psychotropic Medications” (Appendix A from the seminar notebook)

Two Ways of Measuring Progress with Depression-Anxiety

This post is an excerpt from the study guide which accompanies the “Overcoming Depression-Anxiety: A Personal Responsibility Paradigm” seminar. This portion is one element from “STEP 6: IMPLEMENT the new structure pervasively with humility and flexibility.” To RSVP for this and other Summit counseling seminars visit bradhambrick.com/events

Measuring progress is tricky for many reasons. First, measuring progress is an attempt to measure something very fluid and dynamic. There is a rise and fall, acceleration and deceleration in progress that makes it hard to get a concrete reading. Second, measuring progress has a tendency to measure performance over dependence. This tendency can easily begin to undermine the God-reliance stressed throughout this material. Finally, measuring progress can foster shame when there is some type of regression. How regression is handled is pivotal to establishing lasting change.

C.S. Lewis gave a very instructive metaphor for how to deal with shame. Lewis compared shame to hot coffee. If we spill hot coffee on our skin we are burned, scalded, and feel disgusting. However, if we drink coffee we are warmed, nourished, and energized. When we avoid shame or wallow in shame, it becomes like spilled coffee. When we handle the stigma that may exist over depression-anxiety in the ways that are outlined in Scripture, then even our weaknesses draw us closer to Christ, remind us of the necessity of the cross, and give us testimony to share.

David Powlison gives seven indicators that progress is being made with sin (bold text only). These are discussed to give you a more robust understanding of progress than merely counting the number of good emotional days. As you read these consider how each point helps you see and/or maintain progress even when you experience bouts of depression-anxiety.

  1. Decrease in Frequency of Sin: Progress does mean that we should sin less; trust and rest in God more. As you implement these materials in context of loving community and wise medical advisement, there should be noticeable and quantifiable decreases in the frequency of your depressive-anxious experiences. A holistic plan to combat depression-anxiety lived in the encouragement-accountability of friends disempowers the passivity and sense of futility that sustains chronic depression-anxiety.
  2. Repenting More Quickly: Progress means that when sin leads us to anxiety-depression we will respond to those emotions differently. Quick repentance is the key to stopping “emotional paralysis.” No longer will you give into the mindset, “If I’m already down, I might as well stay down because there’s nothing I can do about it.” You should be conversationally comfortable going to God in repentance (review step four).
  3. A Change in Battleground: Progress should mean that you see an advance in your battle against sin; from behaviors and belief to its core fortress–your heart commitments. These changes should excite you. This realization is what allowed Paul to say “I am the chief of sinners” (I Tim. 1:15) without shame. He was excited to take his battle with sin to its core. While each new battleground may require different strategies and durations of time to win, there should be a joy as you see God’s kingdom penetrating new territory in your soul.
  4. Having a Greater Sense of Need for Christ’s Mercy and Grace: Progress that does not persistently realize its reliance upon Christ, degenerates into pride and becomes a stronghold for the enemy. The enemy may use this stronghold as the basis for generating new expectations or failures that create a recurrence of depression-anxiety. The point is not to try to predict where every new emotional challenge will come from, but to remain humble and reliant upon God regarding whatever emotional challenge may arise.
  5. Increase accountability and honesty: Progress means that you do not need a “reason” to be honest and things do not have to be “that bad” in order for you to have accountability. In many ways, this variable is one of the primary, practical expressions of the humility discussed above. Humble people refuse to fight sin alone and refuse to trust their own hearts apart from the community of caring, Christian friends (Heb. 3:12-14).
  6. Not Responding to Difficulty by Indulging in Sin: Difficulty is the time when progress is most clear. When we forget this, we become discouraged by difficulty and this discouragement adds to our temptation. Recognize that when difficulty comes (i.e., conflict, stress, setbacks, etc…) this will be a time when your progress will be most evident. Realizing this should help you maintain the will to persevere during these challenges.
  7. Learning to Love and Consider the Interest of Real People: This is the epitome of progress because it is the fulfillment of the whole law of God (Gal. 6:2). The opposite of depression-anxiety is not mere absence of unpleasant emotions. The opposite of depression-anxiety is the emotional freedom to form real, caring relationships with other real, in-process people. You come to people, not primarily seeking relief from your struggles, but the opportunity for authentic relationship because you know that is what is healthiest for both of you.

There is another way we can think about measuring our progress with depression-anxiety. We can look at markers of reliance upon God in the moment of struggle or we can consider a multi-dimensional way of measuring the decreasing size of our emotional struggle. We want to do both; we want to increase our reliance upon God in the midst of the experience (criteria above) and we want to decrease the size of our emotional disruption in as many ways as possible (criteria below).

As you face the ebb-and-flow of your emotions, we want you to look for three markers of progress: intensity, duration, and frequency. Even when your emotions are unpleasant, look for these markers as evidences of God’s grace. To help you make sense of what growth looks like practically, imagine a sound wave (see the illustration below). A sound wave can be measured three ways:

  • Intensity (height: A to B),
  • Duration (width: Y to Z), and
  • Frequency (peak to peak: 1 to 2).

Our experience of depression-anxiety can be measured in the same three categories. This now gives you three ways that you can begin to measure progress with your emotional struggle. Is your anxiety less intense? Does your depression last for briefer periods of time? Are your emotional disruptions less frequent? Your depression-anxiety journals should provide a fairly objective basis of comparison.Dep-Anx Soundwave2To provide some encouragement consider the following “life disruption score” (LDS). LDS is an arbitrary statistic, but it highlights a valid point. Let’s assume that the intensity, duration, and frequency your depression-anxiety were maxed out on a 1 to 10 scale. That would create a LDS score of 1,000.

10 (intensity) x 10 (duration) x 10 (frequency) = 1,000

Now let’s assume that you are able to decrease the impact of each variable only by two increments. How much do you think that would improve your LDS score?

8 x 8 x 8 = ________ (yes, you have to do the math)

Are you surprised at what a small amount of progress in each area can do? It is not just a math trick. It is the grace of God. If our sanctification (spiritual, relational, and emotional maturity) required a level of effort that matched the impact of our sin, that would be self-atonement. What it takes is dying to self and wisely living for God’s glory through blessing others. When that starts, the momentum of all Heaven is at our back. Each step of faith is caught up in the current of God’s grace.

You might ask, “What is the key variable that makes this work?” The answer is hope. When we begin to see that we can, by God’s grace, have influence over our emotions we gain hope. We feel less powerless. Depression-anxiety thrives in an environment of perceived-futility. Once we gain hope, much of the bondage of depression-anxiety is broken.

OVERCOMING DEPRESSION-ANXIETY: A PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY PARADIGM
Date: Saturday October 18
Time: 4:00 to 7:30 pm
Location: The Summit Church, Brier Creek South Venue
Address: 2415-107 Presidential Drive; Durham, NC 27703
Cost: Free
RSVP Here

For the various counseling options available from this material visit www.summitrdu.com/counseling.

Depression-Anxiety_Poster

Combatting Anx-Dep (6 of 6): Strategic Spiritual Disciplines

This post is an excerpt from the study guide which accompanies the “Overcoming Depression-Anxiety: A Personal Responsibility Paradigm” seminar. This portion is one element from “STEP 6: RESTRUCTURE MY LIFE to rely on God’s grace and Word to transform my life.” To RSVP for this and other Summit counseling seminars visit bradhambrick.com/events

This chapter is a buffet. If you consider every strategy presented to be an assignment, this chapter will overwhelm you. As you read, select those strategies that best fit your life circumstances, the dynamics of your struggle, and your personality. If you are working through this material with a friend or counselor, invite them to suggest which strategies they believe would have the largest impact.

To help you select a balanced set of strategies we have divided this chapter into six sections. Some of this material will be crystalizing and making more actionable what you have already learned. Other parts will be fresh applications of the gospel-truths we have been building upon.

  1. Immediate Negative Emotion Response Plan
  2. Stewarding Your Body
  3. Extended Negative Emotion Response Plan
  4. Life Management
  5. Pursuit of Joy Plan
  6. Strategic Spiritual Disciplines

Strategic Spiritual Disciplines

We do not engage spiritual disciplines primarily for therapeutic reasons; we engage them to know and enjoy God. However, when engaged well, these disciplines do have therapeutic benefit. There are even particular benefits that can be generally ascribed to particular disciplines. We will explore a few of these.

“We believe that a clearly articulated Christian worldview and a congruent incredible Christian lifestyle constitute a form of primary prevention (p. 136).” Mark Yarhouse, Richard Butman, and Barrett McRay in Modern Psychopathologies: A Comprehensive Christian Appraisal

1. Bible Study: How much of the struggle with depression-anxiety is the “bad content” in our thinking? The most effective counseling approach for depression-anxiety is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) which involves challenging the beliefs and corresponding behaviors that under-gird these emotions. Bible study followed by practical application is an excellent discipline to establish this pattern on a daily basis.

For instruction on how to institute this consider the following chapters from books that provide guidance the spiritual discipline of Bible study.

  • Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline, chapter five
  • Donald Whitney, Spiritual Discipline for the Christian Life, chapters two and three
  • John Ortberg, The Life You’ve Always Wanted, chapter ten

2. Prayer and Worship:

How much of the struggle with depression anxiety is our thinking caving in on itself? Our thinking needs an outlet and purpose in order to be healthy. Prayer and worship provide direction for our thought life. Prayer allows even our inward thought to “connect” with someone who cares and understands. Worship provides a focal point for our thoughts that is grander than our situation is bad.

For instruction on how to institute this consider the following chapters from books that provide guidance the spiritual discipline of prayer and worship.

  • Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline, chapters three and eleven
  • Donald Whitney, Spiritual Discipline for the Christian Life, chapters four and five
  • John Ortberg, The Life You’ve Always Wanted, chapter four

3. Silence and Meditation:

How much of the struggle with depression anxiety is our inability to reign in our thoughts? Silence and meditation are disciplines that tame the wild horse that is our thought life. They are practices advocated by Christians for centuries because of their benefits for the life and character of believers.

For instruction on how to institute this consider the following chapters from books that provide guidance the spiritual discipline of silence and meditation.

  • Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline, chapters two and seven
  • Donald Whitney, Spiritual Discipline for the Christian Life, chapter ten
  • John Ortberg, The Life You’ve Always Wanted, chapter five

4. Journaling:

How much of the struggle with depression anxiety is the seeming pointless disconnection of day-to-day life? Life can easily begin to feel like a bad novel where one page has little to do with the page before it. Events keep happening but they don’t seem to be contributing to anything. This is what led Socrates to say, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Depression-anxiety responds, “Amen!”

For instruction on how to institute this consider the following chapters from books that provide guidance the spiritual discipline of journaling.

    • Donald Whitney, Spiritual Discipline for the Christian Life, chapter eleven
    • Using a Personal Journal for Spiritual Growth at www.bradhambrick.com/journal

OVERCOMING DEPRESSION-ANXIETY: A PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY PARADIGM
Date: Saturday October 18
Time: 4:00 to 7:30 pm
Location: The Summit Church, Brier Creek South Venue
Address: 2415-107 Presidential Drive; Durham, NC 27703
Cost: Free
RSVP Here

For the various counseling options available from this material visit www.summitrdu.com/counseling.

Depression-Anxiety_Poster

 

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