Marriage, Couple, Family & Other Counseling Services
My Approach To Counseling
It is important to know that whether the counseling you receive is individual, couple, family or pastoral in nature, the underlying principles which guide my work with clients are all the same: Ultimately, I believe each person has within him or her the knowledge, intelligence and strength to heal and grow.
Counseling provides a safe and accepting environment which allows distressing emotions to calm and distorted perceptions and dysfunctional behaviors to be replaced with more mature, reasonable and adaptive responses.
The Overall Goal of Counseling is, of course, to relieve pain and suffering but it is also to acquire the understanding which, not only effectively treats the immediate symptom but also addresses the underlying problem, leads to lasting changes and prevent its reoccurrence.
The Underlying Principles which guide my therapeutic efforts are:
- Empathy and Support
- Understanding one’s History of Trauma and the consequent Stress Reactions
- Changing and Expanding One’s Perspective by Increasing Awareness of the Connection and Continuity between the Past and the Present – of how present problems may relate to and be informed by past experiences
The Basic Techniques I employ are:
- Dialog Listening and responding
- Education and skill training
- Identifying Irrational and Dysfunctional reactions and Patterns
- Connecting the dots of present problems to their historical roots
- Transforming old response patterns in to new and more adaptive ones
- Manageable Steps Learning how large goals are achieved through small steps
Psychological problems are often complex. Thus, in addition to historical/psychological and environmental factors, emotional problems sometimes involve organic or medical dimensions. It is important to know that I work in concert with a group of psychiatrists and nurse practitioners to ensure that my clients receive complete help for their problems.
When an initial assessment or subsequent impasse indicates that medication may be helpful, clients are referred to psychiatrists for a pharmacological evaluation to see if medication might be included as part of the overall treatment. If medication is prescribed, the psychiatrist and I consult on a regular basis to maximize the best treatment outcomes.
Rev. Michael Heath, LMHC, Fellow AAPC
Pastoral Counseling is a confusing title for many and, indeed, it means many things. For example, Pastoral Counseling can mean:
- Counseling done by an ordained clergy person.
- Counseling which is for spiritual issues or matters of faith.
- Counseling which is done with members of a church or religious group to deal with interpersonal or institutional conflicts.
- Counseling for those who are more comfortable talking in traditionally religious language rather than psychological terms or for those who feel more comfortable talking to a religious leader rather than a secular counselor.
- Counseling for anyone who experienced the “rolling of eyes” from or were told they should talk to a minister by a therapist when spiritual issues or matters of faith were raised in a counseling session.
- Sometimes it is confused with “religious” or “Christian” or “Bible based” counseling which is not psychological therapy but religious instruction or lecture.
I use the term to mean a type of counseling which is conducted by a therapist who has been trained in both in psychotherapy and religious studies. Often it is done by a clergy person who has also been licensed as a therapist.
Individual Counseling, (which is also called Pastoral Counseling, Psychotherapy, Talk Therapy) Individual counseling, i.e. where the client and therapist talk one on one for 50 min., helpful for dealing with a wide range of problems.
Marriage Counseling (which is also Marital , Relational or Conjoint Therapy) is an effective way to resolve relationship problems and increase the level of happiness and satisfaction experienced in a marriage. Marriage counseling often teaches many basic relational skills as well as helping to adjust each partner’s understanding of what marriage is, what it takes to work and what to expect along the way. While sometimes a person may come to counseling to blame his/her partner, research and professional experience have proven that when it comes to marital problems, “It takes two to Tango”. Marital counseling does not seek to judge or blame one party but to understand and change the problematic interactions of the partners.
Family Counseling (which is also called family systems therapy or network therapy) looks at family problems from the point of view of the total family system and the way each family member affects the whole. Counseling usually may involve discussion with some of or even the entire family.
Educational workshops (Includes Lectures, workshops, seminars and professional training for civic groups, churches and institutions) may be requested on a wide range of programs or specifically designed for the needs of the group.