I know of no one who doesn’t confront overwhelming circumstances or simply need to talk to someone about life issues at one point or another in their lives. At various times, we all struggle with issues that can interrupt life and knock us off balance. In fact, some of these issues can be quite debilitating and some are simply life confusions that need to be addressed. It can be difficult to have hope in the midst of the confusions we may experience.

When any of us considers the need to speak to a therapist, the one question I ask is, “Have you become overwhelmed with life circumstances?” Meaning, are you able to sleep? How are your eating habits (too much or too little)? How are your relationships with people around you? Are they conflicted, or are you avoiding people?

Sometimes, a person is unable to be self aware as to how these emotional issues are impacting them. They think they are doing OK, so hearing what others have to say is quite important. Duly note that men are more resistant to seeking help from a therapist than women are. There is some voice in men that says they can manage the pain themselves and fight through it. Certainly, this isn’t true for all men or not all. There is a pattern that can be frustrating when getting a man to enter into a counseling relationship.

When it is suggested that someone speak to a therapist, it doesn’t mean the person has stopped functioning. I like the idea that seeing a therapist is a means of recalibrating life. We all get off balance to some degree, and speaking to a therapist can be a good exercise in addressing our stuff and assessing our life. Good therapy has us look into the mirror and become more self aware of who we are as people. This means that therapy isn’t only intended for people in extreme pain or in a terrible crisis, but includes people dealing things that have simply become very distracting. As a result we are off balance and need to process what we’re thinking or feeling.

How Does Therapy Work?

Therapy is relationship based. Two people meet for about 50 minutes (this is the defined therapy hour), and the client walks through their story. The therapist is trained in various methods to help the client process their story and move toward fulfilling goals that can bring balance.

Since the therapy is relationship based, it takes time to build the relationship. The client has to come to a trusting relationship so they will reveal what they are actually thinking or feeling. Initially the sessions will tend to be superficial, and as the relationship develops, more honesty is reflected.

This takes time!!

Rule of thumb. The first three sessions are simply getting to know the therapist and the therapist getting to know you. In some cases, the relationship doesn’t work well, so another therapist will need to be found.

Real therapy work typically starts around session six. Of course this all depends on the trust in the relationship, the kind of problem, and the willingness of the client to reveal their struggles. Sometimes the real work starts in session one and sometimes in session ten. There is no single answer.

When I refer someone to a therapist, I encourage them to invest. Often the client will stop going after a couple of sessions. They never got to the real work, and they’ll say that the therapy didn’t work. However, the client never gave it a chance.

One suggestion is that the client establish goals for the sessions and share them with the therapist. At times the client will say that therapy isn’t working. As a pastor referring people, they will come to me or I’ll check in and see how they are doing. They’ll share that it just isn’t changing anything. I’ll ask two things:

  1. How honest are you being in therapy?
  2. What kind of goals have you established?

Therapy costs money, so having goals established pushes the process forward. That way you don’t wander through conversations for an indefinite period of time.

Whom to choose?

Finding a therapist is not as easy as one would hope. Typically, people will ask their friends or family who provided their care and they’ll go to that therapist. In my role, people will often ask for a Christian therapist, but that can be misleading. What actually is a “Christian” therapist?

A Christian therapist is one who has gone through all the academic preparation at an accredited university that prepares them to care for people AND they have a Christian understanding that God created us, we are a broken people because of sin, and we need redemption. Jesus intervenes to redeem us and desires to transform us. This filter is in the therapy process as they use their skilled training to care for people.

And since this all costs money. I start by asking:

  1. Does my insurance cover therapy? Often times, insurance will cover 50% of X number of sessions. The insurance may have a list of therapists you have to choose from who accept the rate the insurance company will pay. You will see the list for your area.You can call the agency or the therapist and ask whether they are accepting new patients. If yes, you can request a brief meeting with them. I’ve seen good responses from these brief meetings. The therapist should not charge you for this introductory conversation. You are simply seeing if there is a good relational match. In this conversation you can ask about their philosophy of therapy and also ask something of their faith perspective. You can see from their answers whether you might have a good relationship with the therapist.

 

  1. If insurance isn’t an issue and you are going to privately pay, you can go to anyone you choose. There are Christian practices in the Ann Arbor area. You can call and set up an introductory appointment to see if there is a good match, and then start the therapy. Below are a couple of different Christian agencies you could approach.

 

  1. Rates can vary, depending on location and degree level. A Ph.D psychologist will likely get paid more than a master’s level therapist. The top fee I’ve seen lately is between $115 and $125.00 for a session. You are expected to pay after the session so, yes, this can become quite expensive. Yet, it is worthwhile if your life feels out of control or you feel simply off balance.

 

At times, problems can be so extreme that a person can be hospitalized. These situations are rare and are not part of this little document.

 

A couple of Christian Therapy practices to consider:

 The folks listed below do therapy from a biblical perspective.

  1. Family Counseling Center, 734.477.9999, 2301 Platt Road, Ann Arbor, 48104
    When you call you’ll get a message, follow the instructions to set up an appointment. Dr. Greg Hocott is the director. Check out www.fccannarbor.net
  2. Michele Wolf, Check out her bio at crossrd.com/mwolf She has a strong background in anxiety and depression issues and other strong areas of care for people.
  3. Monira Philipp, MSW, specializes in a variety of family issues. She does a free consultation to see if there is a good fit for on going conversation. Check out her web site: moniralmsw.com
  4. Sheree Askew, MSW, 734-855-6993. Sheree specialized in family work particularly children and adolescent therapists. This link will give you information on what Sheree specializes in as well as insurance information. shereeaskew.com
  5. Shelly Wine, MA, LLP, 248-348-6425, integrations04@yahoo.com
  6. Milan Christian Counseling, 734.439.3100, 18-B West Main Street, Milan, MI 48160, Beth Peterson is a Licensed Professional Counselor who may be helpful to you. This agency does have a sliding scale. Check out milanchristiancounseling.comSolid Ground Counseling, 734.927.1201, solidgroundcounseling.com. It is a Christian agency in both Brighton and Plymouth.