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May 6, 2021

Are You Okay: A Conversation on Counseling

By:
Cari Elana
Coakley

Could Counseling Help?

With our “Are You Okay,” series coming to a close, we didn’t want to miss an opportunity to have an important conversation on the effectiveness of counseling as a vehicle for God to move and heal.

Let’s start by saying this: counseling is nothing to feel ashamed of. There can be a stigma around this, but the truth is that mental health and trauma are very real issues, and these are things that don’t need to be worked through alone. No one is too young or too old to receive counseling after trauma has happened, and seeking out Godly counsel is vital to the process of healing as a Christian. Thankfully there are people that are specifically trained in this.

We got the opportunity to speak with Brandi Korth, one of our very own here at My City Church. She has a history of child and family counseling, and she helped us answer some important questions.

Cari: Alright, so tell me about yourself.

Brandi: So I have a bachelor's degree in psychology, and then I have my master's degree in clinical counseling. I also have a counseling certificate with alcohol and drug counseling along with trauma therapy. I have worked many, many years as an adolescent therapist.

I've worked in homes with a lot of kids. Usually, kids in the court system, in probation, CPS cases, things like that. I've worked with their families too. When working with the parents, I taught them parenting skills and ways to help their family function more effectively.

Cari: Tell me a little bit more about counseling experiences.

Brandi: Of course! So like I said, I work a lot with kids. The work I did is called "intensive family preservation." The kids were often on the verge of getting removed from their homes, which was usually due to their behavior or neglect or abuse from their parents. So much of what I did was going to their homes and figuring out what's broken. I would help parents work on parenting styles,  focusing on positive reinforcement in the house, things like that, and helping the family function as a unit. 

Cari: Nice, so focusing on child counseling. What should people consider when thinking about putting their kids through counseling?

Brandi: I would say one of the most important things is: the counselor-client relationship is vital.  Especially if a kid has some type of trauma history or whatnot with males, they must be with a female counselor. Gender is a big deal. Also, spirituality is a huge deal. If you are strong in your faith, going to a counselor who is also is very important. Most counselors can tell you what their beliefs are, and if you want to have your counseling through faith and Christianity, then making sure of that is essential.

Another thing I told parents is that counseling is a process. One day might be a great day, and then the next three days could be rough. It's stuff that you have to work out constantly; one counseling session isn't going to change an entire family unit. You've got to put in your effort and keep believing that things will be able to change and that the counseling will help. I mean, a large part of emotional healing is that it's a process that takes time, but you will get there if you believe in it.  

A large part of emotional healing is that it's a process that takes time, but you will get there if you believe in it.  

Cari: Focusing now on adults or families as a whole, what additional advice or input would you have?

Brandi: Sure. So for people that go to couples counseling and stuff like that, I always say that it's vital that not only do they see a couples counselor, but for each individual to have their own counselor as well. Then there will be someone who will have that voice for them, where the couples counselors will look at them as a unit.

But depending on what's going on, it might be necessary that the wife or husband go through individual trauma counseling. And then those counselors would bring it together.  

Cari: Yes, I understand that. Can you describe for me how effective you've seen counseling to be when treating depression, anxiety, whatever it may be? 

Brandi: First, it depends on how much the person believes that they will find healing. When I worked with kids on probation, they sometimes didn't want the help.

It depends on how much the person believes that they will find healing.

I did work with a child who had such bad social anxiety that it was tough for her to go to school. She would have straight-out panic attacks just being out in public. But, with a couple of months of very hard, vigorous work with her, her parents, and her teachers, she was able to make it successfully through the school day. Sometimes she would make it two days one week and then four the following week. It's just amazing to see hope in them once they're really into the therapy, knowing that they can get better and seeing how much progress they've made.

Cari: That's such an incredible testimony and something that can bring hope to so many. So thank you for sharing that. Lastly, how have you seen God move through counseling? 

Brandi: It's incredible what I've seen Him do. Even with that kiddo, she wasn't as strong in her faith as I am, but I mean, it was something I was constantly praying for her and praying for God to move in within her. And it was someone just praying on her behalf that, I think, really helped move the needle in her emotional healing. And I've seen families who had so much chaos and a lot of hurts initially, then start to become healthy families at the end.

It's been incredible to see. If you are looking for God to move, you will see God moving. If you're looking for it, you're going to find it. It's been testimony after testimony, I've heard of people having anxiety and depression for years, and then all of a sudden not have it anymore because God has healed them. It's been pretty miraculous to see.

If you are looking for God to move, you will see God moving.

Cari: That is so powerful. God is so good. Thank you so much for sharing!

It’s okay to not be okay, but it’s not okay to stay there. Healing isn’t linear— it takes time. There is no “quick fix” to trauma, and thankfully we don’t have to walk through it alone. Although trauma or needing help may cause feelings of shame to arise, remember these truths: there is no condemnation for those that live in Christ Jesus, and there is nothing that can separate you from God’s love. Remember, He is our healer. Not just physically, but spiritually and emotionally as well. And when we seek healing and believe in our hearts that it’s possible, that’s when He can move. However, even if we don’t believe, He is still faithful. He can still change everything in a moment!

If you’re struggling, remember this: there is hope for you. No one is too broken or damaged for God. In fact, His strength works greatest in our weakness.

If you’re in Omaha and in need of resources for yourself or your family, or don’t know where to start, please reach out to us here at My City Church, and we will get you connected to a pastor who can guide you to a counselor that can get you headed down the path to healing. Contact our team here.

You are loved so much, not only by us, but also (and most importantly) by the One who created you!

You are not alone.
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