This week, after months of prayer and work, we are pleased to announce that Emmaus Counseling is now officially open! I asked our two clinically trained, biblical counselors to sit down with me and share a few insights into how they counsel and what someone can expect when they attend a counseling session. I’m pleased to introduce you to Jesse Masson and Tish Hedger.
Emmaus Blog: So why did Emmaus Church decide to start a counseling center? Aren’t there already a lot of counselors in Kansas City?
Jesse: Yes there are a lot of really great counseling centers in Kansas City, but Emmaus Counseling meets two needs that we feel are underserved here in the Northland. The first is professional mental health care in the Northland is not as readily accessible. Secondly, we see the benefit of combining a Christian worldview with professional counseling. Research shows that the spiritual element in counseling is not only desired by a large percentage of clients, but it also aids the healing process. Emmaus Counseling is unique as it serves the needs of its church body, as well as counseling clients here in the Northland.
Emmaus Blog: It sounds like people may be willing to consider counseling from a church. Are there some things that make counseling at a church unique from a regular therapist’s office?
Tish: You can trust at Emmaus Counseling that our primary goal is healthiness not only of your mind but in the integration of your mind and spirit. We are going to look to the Bible and the Holy Spirit for the primary source of strength and guidance in our counseling. We believe that Jesus Christ is the ultimate counselor. We will be seeking him on the client’s behalf for any help and wisdom given.
Emmaus Blog: Jesse, you’ve been seeing clients since 2012. Where did you work before and what are some lessons you’ll be bringing to Emmaus Counseling that you feel will benefit your new clients?
Jesse: I worked for another great organization called New Leaf Counseling in Kansas City. During my 4 years there, I saw clients with a variety of issues. While walking alongside a couple on the brink of divorce, I watched them find perspective in their marriage as they began to refocus on the gospel while gaining respect and hope in each other. When I see a client addicted to pornography move from self-hatred to a deeper understanding of his worth in Christ, I’m reminded of why I counsel with such a holistic approach. As someone who has also spent a year in counseling as the client, I understand the benefit of having sound, biblical counseling to meet the need of real life issues. My counselor helped me pinpoint the source of my own personal issues and I trust that God will use me in the same way as I meet with future clients.
Emmaus Blog: Tish, I know you see a lot of women dealing with a variety of issues from past abuse. What piece of advice would you give to women who have also suffered abuse in the past and want help?
Tish: Often times women don’t come to me for the abuse they experienced but for some other reason. They are looking for symptom relief for depression, anxiety, stress management, or relationship problems. The advice I would give is to be patient with yourself and realize that when it comes to matters of the heart, mind and memory the whole problem is usually entangled with different factors. But if there is unresolved abuse, it will almost certainly be one underlying factor that can bring much clarity and healing when resolved. Although the abuse happened, perhaps many years ago, do not be surprised if it’s still affecting you.
Emmaus Blog: Why don’t you both tell me a little bit about what a typical session looks like with you as a counselor. What can people expect?
Jesse: At the beginning of the session, I usually let the client share with me what is going on in his life. I let the client direct the conversation. I don’t just ask him to tell me what he is feeling, but rather we dialogue to dissect various sub-issues that are causing points of distress. Because I use a holistic approach, I also want to be very clear on what I don’t do:
This isn’t a time when the client is just going to come and ramble while I sit and take notes in a stoic manner. Nor is it a time when a client sits while I lecture him. Rather, counseling is a time to build a therapeutic relationship where the client can say what’s on his mind to an empathic listener in a safe environment. We exchange ideas to get to the root of the issue so that healing can take place.
Tish: The counselor is not a teacher, judge, or coach. But rather a sojourner on a journey towards healing. The path of healing for each individual is unique. The journey towards healing must be based on the personality of the client and their individual circumstance. The counselor’s role is to tailor a journey as unique as the individual.
Emmaus Blog: What is one thing you want people to know if they are considering counseling?
Jesse: Because issues are often built up over time, counseling is normally not a quick fix. It will take time and effort if you truly want to get better. Clients must understand they must be vitally involved. The client can expect to get out of counseling what he is willing to put into it. For example, a husband that attends sessions half-heartedly without being open and honest about his own issues will likely not see his marriage improve.
Tish: Like Jesse said, understand that it is not a quick fix. A counselor is really there to support, encourage and offer comfort and strength in the difficulties of life when there is sorrow and confusion.
It is our hope that those who need help dealing with issues will reach out and get help at Emmaus Counseling. Our fees are income based so that all can get access to gospel-centered counseling. To schedule an appointment, contact one of our counselors here.