Reflections for the inner life.
In just a few hours, our new steel sign will be installed out in front of our counseling offices here in Saint Augustine. I imagine just our name alone will cue up a number of questions.
In Chattanooga, "Elbow Tree Christian Counseling" (or simply Elbow Tree) has become a household brand. Over the last 11 years, our rag tag team of therapists have been serving hundreds of families locally as well as leaders and families all over the planet through a handful of global initiatives we are engaged with.
One of the questions new clients will ask is, "What is an elbow tree?" For the purpose of this blog today, I'll simply send you to this page of our website. It will give you a little background on who we are.
Another great question folks have asked is, "Are you a real counselor?"
To answer this question well, I think it's worth listening for the question inside the question. When it gets down to brass tacks, people tend to wonder most about the "Christian Counseling" dimension of our name.
In this blog, I am going to take a couple minutes to pose a couple of the implied questions I can appreciate folks might really be asking.
1. Is "Christian Counseling" different than "normal counseling?"
Our team is made up of licensed and pre-licensed counselors. Every licensed and pre-licensed mental health counselor in the state of Florida is governed by the same ethical code of conduct and held to an extremely high standard of care. If a counselor identities themselves as a Christian Counselor, it often is simply a way of helping clients find therapists trained to help integrate faith into the therapeutic process.
At Elbow Tree, we are each deeply committed to the highest level of care. That is why we are each always pushing the envelope getting trained in a wide range research based therapeutic modalities that you will find in any non-Christian Counseling setting.
Some of us are involved in disaster response work. To do so we are continually being trained by the ICISF, who are the gold standard for training first responders all over the world in Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM).
Others of us are exploring best practices for being trained as trauma therapists, so we are being trained in modalities like EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing) and (IFS) Internal Family Systems which are validated interventions for serving clients who present with trauma needs.
The list could go on and on as our team in Chattanooga and in Saint Augustine deliver the highest quality of care to the communities we are fortunate to serve.
Is Christian Counseling different? No and yes.
NO - because we are committed to providing all clients with nothing less than high quality care using treatment interventions informed by a well of evidence based research.
YES - because we are creating an intentional space for clients to integrate their Christian faith only if they so desire. We are simply hoping to light a candle in the window for folks looking for something like this in the sea of options being provided.
2. Is Christian Counseling a glorified Bible study or does actual therapy take place?
We want to walk with you toward the full and meaningful life you are made for. How we go about shepherding the process is very intentional and deeply therapeutic. We see ourselves more as facilitators of your therapeutic process.
Our goal is to get out of the way so you can get into your process, where actual therapy does take place. We do not judge or pressure. Instead we join with you as a curious companion, hoping to demonstrate a holy curiosity, genuine warmth and consistent empathy.
Primary goals for therapy are 1) to “reframe” uncomfortable, distressing or perplexing situations into opportunities for healing, growth, change and restoration 2) give some real, practical, doable steps to take and 3) orient people towards a much larger story that is unfolding alongside their own.
3. Can you hold my story confidentially?
Sometimes people wonder if Christian Counseling is 100% confidential. Let me tell you that anything you share with a therapist at Elbow Tree will be held in complete confidence. Unless you elect to release information to a pastor, elder, neighbor or family member, everything you share is held in the strictest of confidence.
And this is not because we are such nice people. It's the law. Your information is thankfully guarded by HIPAA which holds licensed counselors to a very high standard when it comes to any aspect of your file. The only limitations of confidentiality with regard to harming children, the elderly, or yourself.
So, as our new sign goes up today, and cars begin to pass by our new offices, we can imagine and anticipate that some will wonder if we are real therapists. Yes, we are highly trained men and women who are very protective of the therapeutic space as one that must be inhabited by the highest caliber of skilled licensed clinicians.
Should you have any additional questions, feel free to email Hayne Steen at firstname.lastname@example.org.