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Lay Counseling: Beyond Clichés

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Too often when people bring pain and struggles to church, they’re met with Christian clichés: “God won’t give you more than you can handle. We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. Let go and let God.” But life is more complex than that – all of us need guidance and informed, loving advice from time to time! And that’s why Woodland’s Renovation Lay Counseling program exists.

People come to our lay counseling ministry with all sorts of issues: depression, anxiety, relationship struggles, addictions, anger and more, and our counselors are ready to talk about all these. Rob Kistler, our Care Pastor, says, “Counseling is about helping real people with real challenges—some they have been carrying their entire life. It takes training and practice to be able to walk with people through those tender places, and we don’t want to damage or hurt someone even more.”

That training and practice takes place for our volunteer counselors in an intensive nine-month training program, which includes study materials, a practicum and receiving counseling under the supervision of professional mental health providers.

During the course of those nine months, the trainees form a special community. This community is important because while counseling people through the aches and pains of life is rewarding, it’s also hard! Through group consultations, the counselors carry these burdens together by sharing about those they are working with (without including names), processing their own feelings and gaining outside perspectives. With training, supervision and ongoing consultation, lay counselors have the techniques to offer care that can be meaningful and deeply transformational for everyone involved!

Jenna serves as a counselor and shares this: “The Renovation Lay Counseling training program had an extreme impact for me to heal and grow, and then having the ability to help others as well. I absolutely love being able to walk with someone through their journey and overcome obstacles. It is an extremely rewarding volunteer opportunity to learn so many skills and techniques to teach others that they can apply and carry through their lives.”

If you are interested in serving as a volunteer counselor, we have an information meeting coming up that will be held over Zoom on April 3 at 6:30pm CT. Please contact Rob Kistler if you’d like to attend: rkistler@whchurch.org. Living in Minnesota is not a requirement, either – we have volunteer counselors who meet with clients online.

If you’re struggling with a challenge in life and you’d like to receive counseling through Woodland Hills, please click here to learn more.

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