Tim and Betsy served as missionaries in Asia for more than two decades. When a long-standing team conflict imploded, they made the heart-wrenching decision to return to the US. After settling down in a rural area of the Pacific Northwest, a generous donor offered to fund an intensive counseling program in order to facilitate much-needed healing. That’s when they discovered Restoring the Soul and experienced our two-week intensive.
Virtually all of our clients come to us with some kind of pain or distress, like Tim and Betsy. In some cases, clients are experiencing external brokenness (brokenness in a relationship, marriage, team, or ministry). Other cases focus on internal brokenness that needs to be addressed. Regardless of the issues, clients ultimately choose intensive counseling for five different reasons.
#1 – Inadequate local resources
Tim and Betsy had no access to adequate counseling in the Asian region where they lived. Shortly after returning to the US, they discovered their hometown also lacked the necessary counseling resources. The fact is, despite the welcome growth of Christian counseling over the years, many Christians still live in an area where skilled therapists are in short supply.
Last month I was speaking with a couple in a major crisis. The nearest Christian counselor was more than 60 miles from their home. Despite the distance, they were committed to making it work. However, when they discovered that the counselor’s next available appointment was almost two months out, they started exploring intensive counseling and eventually chose Restoring the Soul.
In some instances, even when Christian counseling is available, sincere and well-meaning counselors may lack the necessary expertise and training for a given situation. We often hear from clients that “the counselor back home is caring and supportive.” Then, the client expresses they’ve gone as far as they can with limited impact. When this happens, it only makes sense to look at other options.
# 2 – Magnitude of issue
In many situations, the sheer weight of an issue requires that clients engage the healing process in a different environment. Doing so allows clients to fully invest themselves and not be pulled in several different directions by the demands of everyday life.
At Restoring the Soul, we’ve helped individuals, couples, and even families who have experienced tragic loss and crisis. In each of these situations it has been crucial to get away from home and enter a supportive therapeutic environment. We’ve also worked with high profile individuals and couples that would not survive the scrutiny of “staying local.” And we’ve worked with couples and individuals whose issues boiled over into a major crisis so that “intensive care” was the only option.
Whatever the situation, we regularly hear from intensive alumni that they couldn’t imagine beginning the healing process or making the same gains in the same place they lived.
# 3 – Recommendation from counselor
For years, Restoring the Soul has existed and grown by word-of-mouth referrals. In fact, one of the best compliments we receive is when a therapist or pastor sends people our way, knowing how intensive counseling has positively impacted others.
Ian and Ellie were married five years when they launched a business that grew beyond their dreams. When they became empty nesters they discovered that the success of their business had taken a toll on the vitality of their relationship. When their pastor (an intensive alumni himself) suggested intensive counseling with Restoring the Soul they jumped at the opportunity. As it turned out, their intensive counseling experience was so helpful they returned for a “check up” each year for three subsequent years.
#4 – Increased level of care
In some instances, a person (or couple) will be making steady progress with a counselor at the local level and then it an impasse. It’s at critical times like this when increasing the frequency, duration, and overall intensity of the counseling work can pay huge rewards. In many situations intensive counseling can be the perfect venue for an increased level of care.
I’ll never forget David, a physician from the West Coast. After two years of individual and marital counseling with a Christian therapist near his home, neither he nor his wife reported much change in his ability to connect emotionally in their marriage. Feeling frustrated and not knowing what else to do, David began to explore counseling programs that offered an increased level of care.
During this time, David’s wife learned from a friend about Restoring the Soul. Less than a month later David began a two-week counseling intensive where together we identified significant unaddressed childhood trauma. To say that the intensive was life changing would be an understatement. “I got my heart back, and I didn’t even realize I had lost it,” he later told me.
# 5 – Insufficient progress
When someone is initially interested in an intensive I schedule a 20-minute call to discuss their situation and goals. A standard question I ask people is whether or not they’ve had previous counseling. It’s not uncommon for me to hear statements like, “I’ve/We’ve been in counseling for years. The problem is that I’ve/we’ve never really made any progress.”
There are numerous reasons why clients don’t progress or experience desired change. But doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different result is the definition of insanity.
Some clients simply say, “I’ve tried everything else and nothing has worked.” They have gone to conferences, read books, made sincere attempts to change and still come up short. Many married couples tell us the same thing. “If this intensive doesn’t lead to breakthrough, then this is it.”
Unhealthy patterns don’t develop overnight. It makes sense then that change doesn’t happen overnight. But through intensive counseling, couples and individuals make meaningful progress where before they had remained stuck.
Real change is possible. Hearts can be mended. Relationships can be restored. There is hope, even when it seems as if all hope is gone.
Question: Do you know anyone who has experienced intensive counseling? What were the reasons they chose intensive counseling over traditional counseling?
Learn more about intensive counseling here.