Category: Resources

How Anxiety Affects Men and Women Differently

Anxiety can appear in many different areas of our lives. The persistent unease that accompanies anxiety uniquely affects each person it touches. Although there are some general signs that anxiety might have an unhealthy hold over you or someone you love, biological and social distinctions between men and women lead to gender differences in the experience of anxiety.
The most dramatic evidence of the gender gap is the rate at which men and women are diagnosed with anxiety:
Twice as many women as men are diagnosed with anxiety disorders.
At age fifteen, girls are six times more likely than boys to receive treatment for anxiety.
Women are far more likely to report both physical and emotional symptoms of chronic stress.
While it might be tempting to read such statistics as biological confirmation that women are as tightly wound and emotional as stereotypes suggest, these findings highlight major differences in our social expectations of the sexes.
Adults often reward young girls for reacting to a difficult event with tears, offering hugs and reassurance. Young boys are generally taught to “toughen up.” By the time adolescence arrives, boys are more likely to have begun building an arsenal of coping strategies, while many girls still lean heavily on others for emotional support and guidance.
In the absence of successful strategies for coping with anxiety, a young boy experiencing stress is more likely to hide his emotions and deal with his stress in unhealthy ways. This tendency carries on into adulthood. Men often fail to own up to experiencing anxiety, falsely believing that stress disorders are a sign of weakness. Doctors themselves are susceptible to the line of thinking that anxiety disorders are not for men. Studies have found that when a man and a woman exhibit the same anxious symptoms, psychiatrists treat the woman for anxiety more often than they treat the man.
As a result, male anxiety can look a lot like substance abuse, or other antisocial disorders, in which a person buries his emotional pain instead of managing it. Some research has found that anxiety tends to make men more inwardly-focused, and likely to self-isolate, while women become more empathetic and socially dependent.
Masculinity and performance are often central to a man’s sense of self-worth. Use of alcohol and other mind-altering substances to increase confidence and strength is common, providing the illusion of relief from persistent worries.
Not only are women more eager to share their feelings, they are generally more willing to have their emotional turmoil analyzed, addressed, and monitored by friends or mental health professionals. In fact, this tendency to dwell on stressful events and relationships probably predisposes women to anxiety, and can prolong anxious reactions. In one study, almost half of all women reported being unable to sleep due to stress at least once in the past month.
While many of the differences between anxious men and women seem to stem from social pressures, research suggests that there are biological differences as well.
Serotonin, a neurotransmitter, could determine how a person reacts to stress, and might cycle more quickly through the male brain. This would mean that women need more time to manage anxious reactions.
Many women are highly affected by low levels of a stress hormone, CRF, making them more susceptible to anxiety disorders.
Female hormones, like estrogen, cause the fight-or-flight response to become engaged more quickly, and longer, in women than in men.
The target of anxiety is often different for men and women. Anxious women are more likely to worry about social relationships and money, while anxious men are more likely to worry about job performance and stability.
Despite distinctions in the origin and experience of chronic worry, treatment for anxiety disorders is similar for everyone: the best way to manage stress, and move on from it, is to develop healthy strategies for coping.

This Therapist Center can be found at our intake request form and by entering their zip code 85373

Are we there yet?

Are We There Yet, A recent trip to Florida resurrected this question that I hadn’t heard since the days of summer vacations with our children, Stephanie and Ryan. Our most recent journey to the sunshine state included our three oldest grandsons Caleb, Luke, and Isaac (Stephanie and youngest grandson Jude met us in Orlando). Needless to say, the burning question was ask so many times I lost count in North Carolina. As a wiser, more mellow grandpa I found the incessant questioning less irritating and even humorous at times. I was keenly aware that as a young father I would have been more focused on the destination while as a grandfather the experience of being with “the posse” meant a lot. We are a destination and productivity obsessed society. Are we there yet? How will we know? What measurements tell us we have arrived? Much of our energy is spent on destination at the expense of quality relationships, living in the moment, and the lost art of listening to one another’s stories. While destination and productivity are important, the price we pay can be too much if the result is a life lived running from place to place. An important part of the work in counseling is to collaborate with clients on ways to relax and enjoy the journey. An interesting paradox is we possess many comforts and gadgets to make life easier, while much research states we are more stressed and depressed than at any time in history. I have personally seen a rise in anxiety disorders among teenagers recently. I suspect a “switched on” culture and unfettered access to technology has not helped. Many of us as children heard the phrase, “Stop, look, and listen before you cross the street.” Paying attention to those words improved your chances of getting to your destination safely. May I suggest, in the interest of enjoying the journey that we slow down, pay attention to our surroundings, and listen to one another’s stories. Who knows, we might find the journey much more interesting than the destination. Grace and peace as you travel!

This Therapist Center can be found at our intake request form and by entering their zip code 43103

Relationships

All humans desire to be connected in Relationships. It is the chosen way to achieve happiness, fulfillment and love in our journey through life from birth through death and beyond.

The attached child in the safety and acceptance of Mom and Dad; the connected teenager to friends; the exclusive relationship of the young adult; the marriage Bond of the committed adults in a union of souls brings the individual to completeness as a human person. The relationship bonds throughout life become the sustenance on which we evolve and blossom to fullness as humans. The marriage Bond, therefore, becomes the crucial relationship in which the couple complete their development and experience happiness.

Unfortunately, our society and our educational and religious organizations fail to prepare or train us in the marriage relationship skills necessary for happiness in life’s journey. It seems that we are expected to know innately all about relationships. Developing healthy marriage relationships is the most difficult and challenging task of life. It demands a willingness and openness to reveal oneself while at the same time accepting the other person, unconditionally in order to experience the happiness of an intimate marriage. Clearly, this is not an easy process considering the percentage of couples who began their relationship in love, only to witness their love die in separation and divorce. We need training, guidance and above all, practice to be good in the relationship way. Effective marriage counseling and marriage enrichment will provide the training and guidance. However, the practice to nourish, maintain and strengthen the marriage relationship remains the responsibility of the couple. It must be the number ONE priority.

A golf professional giving a student his first lesson said, “You are looking for the secret to be a good golfer?” to which the student replied, “Yes”. He then said, “There is no secret, the solution to being a good golfer is practice”. So it is with relationships, the sustenance of life: we need to practice. There is no secret to creating a lasting love relationship. You fell in love and married the person of your dreams. Success in marriage depends on how well you practice the WAYS to maintain and strengthen that love. The Relationship-Way program will give you the WAYS to enrich your marriage or to renew your love relationship.
Relationship-way is the only way to happiness. You long for one, you search for one. When you find the one, don’t ever let go. The world will bluff you with other attractions. Relationship-way is the only way to happiness.

This Therapist Center can be found at our intake request form and by entering their zip code 11030

Hope found in the midst of Robin William’s passing

How shocked we all were when we heard of Robin Williams’ passing. I liked what I heard Keith Ablow, MD, say on the news: while depression is a common malady and can be fatal, with education and awareness there is great hope. He went on to say that psychotherapy is the “gold standard” of treatment and that there are many medications which can be helpful. There are even novel medical treatments which are very promising for treatment-resistant depression and mood disorders.
We need to be talking about the signs of depression such as sadness, appetite and sleep disturbances, loss of interest in usual pleasures and other changes. We need to overcome the stigma of having depression by speaking out about it. Resources such as NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) are free for the person suffering from the illness and the families suffering with him or her.
Often the family physician or clergyman is the first to hear of a person suffering from depression. They assess and refer to mental health professionals, such as psychologists, as they prescibe helpful medications. It is important to treat depression and other mood disorders when they are detected because of the damage to relationships, work functioning and of course the person’s health and or life that can occur.
There is hope. We must take advantage of our loss of a favorite celebrity to speak to others about this subject and what can be done about it. Sharing on this blog, for example is my way of doing that. As others respond to this post, we can create a valuable discussion about the subject that others, from the comfort and safety of their personal computers and devices, may benefit from in amazing ways.

This Therapist Center can be found at our intake request form and by entering their zip code 85018

Spring and Depression

As we wait for the spring weather to come you might be surprised to know that it is during this
season that depression is actually the highest. Common sense would seem to suggest the winter
when everything is grey and cold would make us more depressed but in reality it is quite the
opposite. In fact, it is the sunshine and the newness of life that seems to make the emptiness we
feel inside even more pronounced. There has been a lot of research in the area of depression and
there are a lot of new treatments that are making a difference. One I would like to talk about today is
exercise.
As the weather improves going outside to walk or ride a bike or work in the yard becomes
easier. There are several reasons why exercise helps with depression. The Mayo Clinic’s website
offers three main mental health benefits. First of all, exercise helps to release the brain’s “feel good”
chemicals called neurotransmitters and endorphins. These natural chemicals are helpful in easing
depression. Secondly, exercise can reduce immune system chemicals that seem to make
depression worse. And finally, exercise increases body temperature that has been shown to have a
calming effect.
There are some direct benefits to the mind as well. It has been reported that exercise helps you to
gain confidence as you set goals and achieve them. While you are exercising you may actually be
thinking of something other than your worries and this can be very helpful. When we are depressed
we seem to focus only on what is upsetting us. Often exercise can involve social interaction. If you
join a class or walk on the treadmill next to someone you are with others. Just being with people can
be therapeutic. Depression fools your mind into thinking you need to be alone. Depressed people
tend to isolate themselves and that only makes the depression worse. I think it is helpful to
remember that exercise is a healthy coping strategy. Many coping strategies carry with them other
problems making the depression worse. Some examples might be overeating, alcohol, Internet or
TV.
Another way that physical exercise can help is in the discipline that regular exercise
demands. When a person is depressed or weighed down with anxiety it is hard to get out of bed in
the morning so simple tasks can feel overwhelming. But getting out and taking a walk even when
you don’t want to requires discipline and this can be very empowering. It can be the catalyst to
change. It can move you from feeling out of control to regaining control.
Remember if your depression worsens you may need professional help. Talk to your doctor or make
an appointment with a New Source counselor. You don’t have to be depressed anymore.

This Therapist Center can be found at our intake request form and by entering their zip code 43103

GAMBLING ADDICTION

Gambling addictions literally can tear families apart. We’ve unfortunately seen it happen. If you are reading this, we hope that you pick up the phone and call us right now. It’s not too late to get control of your life again and not feel consumed and overpowered by the wins and losses of gambling.

Every gambler thinks that all they need is “one big win” before they can quit, but unfortunately that is how serious financial problems develop. Usually, gamblers are embarrassed and don’t want their loved ones to find out they are in too deep, over their heads, and that they may have spent the next month’s mortgage, rent, and/or food money on gambling.

At Leyden, you are welcome here, free of judgment and lectures. We will help you get your life back by identifying the root of your gambling addiction, why you started and what you were trying to escape from, and most importantly how to move on from this and clean up your life.

Signs You May Be Addicted to Gambling:

  • You can’t stop gambling
  • Gambling to “escape” your problems and reality
  • Trying to win back money lost on gambling
  • You can’t stop thinking about gambling
  • You lie and hide your addiction from family and friends
  • You are in serious debt from gambling
  • Becoming a recluse

It’s not too late to get control of your life. Our licensed and professional counselors will use a variety of treatment methods, including Cognitive Behavior Therapy, to reverse your addictive gambling behavior. We will help you re-learn healthy thought patterns and behaviors so that you don’t fall into the same addictive trap you are in now. There is light at the end of the tunnel…let us help you see it.

This Therapist Center can be found at our intake request form and by entering their zip code  60453

Compulsive & Addictive Behaviors (CABs)

Compulsive and Addictive Behaviors (CABs)

If you or someone you love has said any of these things, it may indicate a problem with a chemical or non-chemical compulsive or addictive behavior (CAB). You may have not ever thought of it in this way but Webster defines an addiction as “a strong, irresistible impulse to habitually carry out an act.” Most non-chemical compulsions and addictions are socially acceptable behaviors that become more and more time, energy, and/or financially consuming. They can be every bit as consuming and destructive as the more well known addictions to chemical substances such as alcohol and drugs.

The CAB may have begun recently or it may have been controlling your life for years. Many start off innocently and become more and more powerful and uncontrollable. It may give you a feeling of being in control, be a refuge from a world where you feel out of control, or it may be an escape from having to be constantly in control. It may have begun as a way of coping with stress or life’s pressures and difficulties. It may have even helped you to keep anxiety or pain at bay. But now, if you can admit it, the behavior is controlling you and causing stress and pain of its own.

We Can Be Addicted to Anything

We are creative. In my observations, any behavior which can repeated will have someone addicted to it. These are just a few of the things we can be addicted to.

Chemical Substances

Alcohol, Cocaine, Crack, Heroine, Methamphetamine, LSD, Marijuana, Pain Killers, Barbiturates, Prescription Medications, PCP, Coffee, Cigarettes, Cigars, Snuff, Chewing Tobacco, Skoal, Cokes, Chocolate orDiet Pepsi.

Sex

Pornography, Exhibitionism, Prostitutes, Video Parlors, Masturbation, X-Rated Movies, 900 Numbers, Affairs, Sado-Masochism, Internet Porn, Pedophilia, Exhibitionism, Transvestism, Homosexuality (in some cases), Voyeurism or Bestiality.

Gambling

Horses, Cards, Slot Machines, the Lottery, Sports, Office Pools, the Internet, Dice, Roulette, Bingo, Casinos or the Stock Market.

Television 

Movies, Soap Operas, Sports, Court TV, News Shows, Information Channels, Cartoons, Horror, the Weather, Financial Programs or the O.J. Simpson Trial.

Computers

Surfing the Net, Chat Rooms, Solitaire, Free Cell, Programs, the Latest Hardware or   Software, Internet Porn, Stock Market Quotes, On-ling Games or Finding Deals on E-Bay.

People

Love, Helping, Rescuing, Martyrdom, Being Alone, Friends, Popularity, Power, Fame, Controlling Others, Being Different, Being the Same, Fixing Others, Being Adored, Spouse Abuse or Serial Murder.

Shopping

Credit Cards, Gifts, Home Shopping Network, Sales, the Mall, Tools, Clothes, Shoes, Garage Sales, Flea Markets, the Latest Electronic Gadgets or Trinkets.

Food   

Eating Too Much, Binging and Purging (Bulimia), Eating for Comfort, Not Eating Enough (Anorexia), Cooking or Eating Out.

Sports and Exercise

Running, Weight Lifting, Aerobics, Body Building, Biking, Swimming, Golf, Tennis, Basketball, Softball, Handball, Pool, Bowling, Playing Cards or Racquetball.

Collecting Things

Money, Stamps, Dolls, Books, Comics, Cards, Bottles, Videos, CD’s, DVD’s, Music, Pogs, Paper, Security, Trivia, Art, Sports Team Paraphernalia, Shoes, Jewelry or Stocks and Bonds.

Our Appearance

Dieting, Make-up, Hair, Clothes, Jewelry, Shoes, Hats, Our Car or Our Home.

Knowledge or Information

Through Reading or the Internet, Educational TV Shows, History, Geography, News, Sports Statistics or about the Future (through Palm Readers, Psychic Hotlines).

Miscellaneous Activities

Work, Reading, Meetings, Bible Studies, Dog Shows, Cleaning, Organizing, Politics, Traveling, Setting Fires, Stealing, Self-Mutilation, Card Games, Chess, Video Games,   Nintendo, Backgammon, Being in Nature, Power, Being on Time, Perfection, Animal Breeding, Cutting or Pulling Hair.

An Avoidable Epidemic

The World has suffered incredible destruction from unavoidable, natural disasters over the past few years, but addictive and compulsive behaviors are avoidable, unnatural disasters which also destroy individual lives, families, businesses, and churches. Certainly not all of the CABs listed above are destructive. Some are neutral while others are even valued or beneficial to some aspects of the partaker’s life.

Chemical and Non-chemical Addictions Are Similar

Many of these non-chemical compulsions such as spending or gambling are as powerful and as destructive as an alcoholic’s compulsion to drink.   The chemical addictions and non-chemical compulsive behaviors are often viewed as being different by traditional theorists and researchers who work in the area of addictions. Contrary to this prevailing notion, the chemical and non-chemical CABs are virtually the same psychologically, only differing in the object or behavior that is compulsively pursued. When taken together, these behaviors represent a hidden plague of unparalleled proportions (see accompanying article). And in the late Twentieth Century, the list of CABs seems to be constrained only by the potential number of activities we can engage in. If a behavior can be repeated and taken to a destructive extreme, someone is taking it there. This tendency of our fallen nature holds profound implications for the church and every client that walks into a therapist’s office.                                                                     

A few of the features both chemical and non-chemical CABs have in common are: a preoccupation with the behavior (or substance), greater amounts of time, energy, or resources are expended than intended or available, tension or anxiety builds when away from the behavior leading to a temporary release of tension when the behavior is engaged, repeated thoughts about and/or attempts to control, cut back or stop the behavior, secretiveness and/or lying are utilized to limit the knowledge of significant others regarding the true extent of the behavior and a continuation of the behavior in spite of physical, emotional, relational, or financial health being compromised.

                                     The Extent of the Problem

With the arbitrary barriers removed and the great number of similarities exposed, the total number of chemical and non-chemical CABs is staggering. Unfortunately, an accurate estimate of how many individuals suffer from destructive forms of CABs is impossible because of several factors. First, we feel shame and embrace secrecy, we seldom reveal the true extent of our activities. It is extremely difficult for anyone, especially Christians, to admit when we are out of control. Problems seldom come to light until we have been caught several times or have caused a great deal of damage, usually after repeatedly swearing to ourselves or others we would cut back or stop. The second problem is that the different CABs are seen by researchers in isolation. This results in different estimating practices using different reporting methods and statistics. The final issue confounding an accurate estimate is that many CABs have yet to be recognized by sources such as the DSM IV or the media. Many of us often never know what to call what we do. The numbers would be overwhelming if an anonymous survey Christian Therapy Services focusing on the similarities within these behaviors were ever administered to the general population.

Christian Therapy Services
This therapist can be found at our intake request form and by entering their zip code  87107

The Struggles of Military Marriage: Maintaining Your Trust

The Struggles Of Military Marriage: Maintaining Your Trust 

The beginning of your marriage is supposed to be the happiest time of your life. You most likely enjoyed a beautiful wedding, possibly even a wonderful honeymoon. However, as a military couple, it’s possible that the reality of your marriage set in much sooner than other couples, and before long, the “honeymoon phase” was over.

While you knew you would have different struggles as a military couple, it can feel all-encompassing at times. There are long days spent apart while your spouse is in training. During deployments, you sometimes have to spend months apart from each other, which is difficult for both of you. It’s understandable that many military couples – even Christian military couples – struggle with issues of trust. Perhaps you’ve been dealing with trust issues in your marriage too. If so, there are a few things you can do that might help.

INVEST IN YOUR MARRIAGE 

When you’re not together as much as you would like to be, it can be easy for the two of you to pay less attention to your marriage until you’re together again. This can cause resentment, and it also increases the probability of being susceptible to giving into temptation. Talk with your spouse and find out what you can do to help him or her feel more secure in the marriage. It might be writing letters frequently, or sending a daily email. It might be weekly telephone calls or video chats. When you invest in your marriage, you’re showing your spouse that even though this is a difficult season when you have to be apart, your marriage and your spouse are still very important to you.

PRAY AND READ A DEVOTIONAL TOGETHER 

While you probably don’t get much time to talk to your spouse during deployments, use the time you do have to talk wisely. God brought you together, and when He did, He blessed your marriage. Praying and reading a Christian devotional together, even over the phone, will help you stay connected to each other. You will also be putting God in the center of your marriage, which will make your relationship even stronger.  We recommend Night Light by James & Shirley Dobson or Moments Together for Couples by Dennis & Barbara Rainey

TALK WITH A CHRISTIAN MARRIAGE COACH AND COUNSELOR 

You may have hesitated to talk with a Christian Marriage Coach and Counselor in the past because you weren’t sure if a counselor could help you in your unique situation. However, here at the Beaufort Center for Marriage, we’re accustomed to helping married military couples, and we provide honest, Biblically-sound counseling and coaching. Sometimes it helps to talk with an unbiased third party who can help you restore any lost trust, and renew the love and passion that you once had for your marriage. You’ll grow closer as a couple, and your level of intimacy within your marriage will only get stronger.

As a Christian Marriage Coach and Counselor who enjoys working with military couples, I pray that you will find strength in reaching out to a professional for the help you need for your marriage. Along with God’s help and God’s love, I would love to partner together with you to help make your marriage the absolute best it can be. I love helping couples rediscover their love for each other as a Christian Marriage Counselor here in Beaufort, SC.

Once you make the decision to restore the trust in your marriage, you’ll find that you’re able to navigate the difficult times more easily – even as a military couple.

Dr. Carol Erb

Is Your Spouse Having an Emotional Affair?

Is Your Spouse Having an Emotional Affair?

Most of the time, when we think of an affair, we think of a physical relationship between two people who are not married to each other. However, an emotional affair can be

just as devastating as a physical affair.

Perhaps you’ve suspected that your spouse has been participating in an unusually emotionally intimate relationship with someone, and you’re not sure if you should be concerned. As a Christian Marriage Coach and Counselor, I’ve worked with many couples in similar situations, and so I would like to offer you a few signs you can look for if you suspect your spouse is having an emotional affair.

A LACK OF COMMUNICATION WITH YOU

One of the signs that your spouse might be having an emotional affair is a change in the way he or she communicates with you. You might notice that your spouse frequently becomes distant, or aloof. Perhaps you once used to share stories of your day, or share jokes with one another, and that just isn’t happening anymore. This lack of communication can even spill over into your physical relationship. The kisses you were used to receiving in the morning might suddenly stop, or your spouse might start to behave differently when the topic of sex comes up.

A SUDDEN CHANGE IN APPEARANCE

Another sign that your spouse might be having an emotional affair is a sudden change in appearance. For example, if you’re a man whose wife hated wearing makeup, and is now suddenly leaving for work every morning wearing all new lipstick and blush, you might suspect an emotional affair with someone at work. If you’re a woman whose husband has abruptly started a vigorous workout routine, and he’s vague about why he’s making the change, it’s wise to probe further to determine whether or not an emotional affair is the reason behind it.

NO MOTIVATION TO WORK ON THE MARRIAGE

One of the signs of a healthy marriage is when both partners are completely dedicated toward working on their relationship. Marriage is a lot of hard work, and when one of you demonstrates a lack of motivation, it should be a signal that something is wrong. Perhaps your spouse seems disinterested in going out on dates with you, or he or she seems to be spending more and more time working instead of coming home for dinner. These are all behaviors that are worth looking into because they indicate a much bigger problem.

If any of these sound familiar to you, it’s possible that your spouse is engaging in an emotional affair. Quite often, these types of affairs are with someone your spouse works with. However, it’s possible that your spouse has friends you don’t know, or that you have only come into contact with on a few occasions.

Either way, finding out that your spouse has been having an emotional affair can really be devastating. If you suspect that he or she is participating in this type of affair, it’s essential for you to get the support you need, as well as the information you need to know how to proceed.

As a Christian Marriage Coach and Counselor here in Beaufort, SC, I have worked with many individuals, as well as couples, who were struggling in their marriages. The right type of Christian support can really make a difference.

While it’s hard to find out your spouse is participating in this type of sinful behavior, when you have the support you need, it can really make a difference. It is my hope that you will reach out for help so that you and your marriage can begin the healing process.

Dr. Carol Erb

Reflections on Hope

What is hope? Is it a feeling? An action? An attitude? A belief? Is hope a choice? Is hope learned? Is it a human virtue? Is hope personal? Is it relational? The answer is YES! Hope is all these things and more. Hope is an emotion associated with a firm expectation that there will be a positive and meaningful future outcome.

Sometimes hope comes easily. We see hope dancing in the eyes of parents as they gaze into the sweet face of their precious newborn infant. Hope beams in the smiles of college graduates as they set off to start their new careers, advance their education, or enter military service.

But in the midst of many other life circumstances, hope seems elusive. How do we keep from sinking into hopelessness in the face of human suffering and tragedy? How can a middle-aged woman find hope as she faces unwanted divorce? How can the father of three children keep his hope alive as he deals with longterm unemployment and mortgage foreclosure? Where is hope for the teen girl struggling with low self-esteem and an eating disorder? Where is hope when cancer or other serious illness comes?

Let’s consider a few Biblical characters who persevered in hope when hope seemed lost. A prime example is Abraham. God promised him that he and his wife, Sarah, would have a child together. But by the time Abraham had reached the advanced age of 100, Sarah, who was age 90, had not yet delivered this child. (Genesis 17:17-19) We are told that Abraham chose to hope “against all hope” that the Lord would fulfill His promise. (Romans 4:18) When we “hope against hope” we make a choice to believe a desired outcome will yet be fulfilled, even when there is no apparent reason to keep hoping. Abraham hoped. He waited patiently. And Sarah gave birth to Isaac. Sometimes hope in God opens the door to new life.

Many times there is no immediate solution to our difficulties, and the outcome looks different than we first envisioned. Between 607-586 BC, the people of Israel were taken from their homeland into exile in Babylon. There was no immediate resolution to their displacement and humiliation. Destined to be in captivity for up to 70 years, some died before they were freed. In this context, God promised them,”… I know the plans I have for you,… plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11) Hoping in God’s promise, they retained a confident expectation that God was with them and still had a purpose and a positive future for them as a people. This hope wasn’t only for the future. It was also for today — that in the present, God was growing them and drawing them to Himself in meaningful ways. Hope gave them assurance in the present that helped them see beyond present circumstances. Eventually, the exiles returned home. As a community, they linked their hope to action as they rebuilt Jerusalem and their lives.

Given these examples, what do we learn that will help us have hope in the dark and lonely times of life? 1) Choose hope daily, so that it becomes a habit. We can choose to hope even as we cry tears of grief. 2) With patience, hope in God, not in uncertain circumstances. As written in Psalm 147:11, we can “hope in His unfailing love.” 3) Be open to a shift in perspective: Our original path or goal might need to shift as we coordinate our life journey with God’s plans for us. Perhaps there are possibilies we haven’t considered or strengths we possess that need more development. We might also benefit from reassessing what is truly meaningful. Often it helps to look beyond the hardships happening to us to the growth happening within us. 4) Link hope to constructive action: Ask for expert advice or connect with a supportive community. Prayer is action and is one of the most powerful things we can do.

Research indicates that hope is an essential component of effective counseling. Clients want to work with a counselor who hears them, offers a fresh perspective, is present with them in their pain, and who helps them find their own reasons to hope. If you are discouraged, feeling stuck, and need a safe place to work through your concerns, I invite you to meet with me. Let’s discuss ways you can move forward with hope.

References:

Larsen, D. J. & Stege, R. (2012). Client Accounts of Hope in Early Counseling Sessions: A Qualitative Study. Journal of Counseling & Development, 90, 45-54.

The Holy Bible, New International Version, (1984). Zondervan Publishing: Grand Rapids, MI.

View the Profile of Mary E. Bonneson, MS, LPC, BCPCC