While there are many ways to get from one place to another, it is always good to know what they are. Here is a sampling of what we currently offer at Homeward Bound Christian Counseling.
The most commonly known and used form of therapy is simply talking. We all do it. Often there is a one-sided element to it: One side “vents” and the other side listens. For a counselor, there is one more element: Active listening. We search for clues as to what is “really going on” and carefully ask questions that may open up the “venting” to deeper discussion. Depending on the type of therapy involved, usually one of four known categories:
- Psychoanalytic/Psychodynamic: Attempts to seek out the unconscious or subconscious meanings and motivations behind behaviors, feelings, and/or thoughts. This is what most people regard as stereotypical psychotherapy as such therapists tend to focus on resolving past issues.
- Cognitive/Behavioral: This dualistic therapy splits between what a client thinks (cognitive) and how a client behaves. The modern focus tends to be towards tools to adjust thinking and, therefore, effect behaviors without regard to any possible direct cause such as past or present issues.
- Humanistic/Existential: Also called “client-centered therapy,” the emphasis is on the power of the client to seek and find the answers within themselves. It can come in the form of “holistic” Gestalt therapy, the awareness of self in the here and now, or existential therapy, the search for meaning within the knowledge of self-determination and free will.
- Integrative/Holistic: Integrates two or all three of the larger categories to tailor an approach to the client’s needs.
The Christian-Existential Approach
Existential therapy began from the roots of psychodynamic therapy (reveal the unconscious focus and content to relieve stress on the overall psyche), humanistic therapy (finding the “whole person” starting from the premise that everyone is inherently good and it is the parts that can cause problems), and the philosophical writings of Heidegger, Husserl, Dostoevsky, Kafka, Camus, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Sartre, and others. As with most philosophical beginnings, the goal is to seek meaning, considered the ultimate goal of most human beings according to philosophers as far back as the Greek and Roman philosophers.
Life in the modern world tends towards either ignoring the symptoms of a mentally unhealthy lifestyle, from social conformity to bullying to common stress and depression, or diving headlong into those symptoms and identifying solely as being the person who cannot handle life or their behaviors. Existential therapy looks to identify not just the symptoms of the unhealthy lifestyle but the reason and meaning behind choosing that path in order to find the road back to a recovering lifestyle.
As a recovering alcoholic and one who has returned to the “right road” many times, Monte has created a Christian approach to existential therapy that integrates narration therapy, Bible study, and “talk therapy” to open up possibilities and guide clients towards their own answers. The world being what it is, however, he is open to helping those of other faiths as well through their own examination of self-identity in their own faith and through revelation an self-discovery.
Traditionally, hypnotherapy is a form of exercise or practice helped by a “coach,” the hypnotist, to “readjust” a thought pattern via the subconscious. This is because it temporarily bridges the gap or “filter” between the conscious and the subconscious. Some believe this to be a kind of myth, however the filter has a purpose: to allow the conscious mind enough leeway to take care of the day-to-day while holding back the rest of the day’s sensory findings, including those things forcefully or defensively ignored, to be handled later, usually in sleep. We actually see, hear and feel much more than we think we do while awake and the subconscious is a much larger part of our thinking than the conscious.
Instead of examining this mass of information in the subconscious, we at Homeward Bound use hypnotherapy to carefully examine the walls we put up between the conscious and subconscious, walls that can get in the way of us understanding ourselves and our own actions or chronic thoughts and emotions. Think of these as clogging agents in the filter. This is considered a last resort, as tapping on such walls can potentially be as traumatic as the event or events that created them. There will also be practice runs of simply relaxing before we tackle any questions, taking two or three sessions. We would rather the client not have to pay for such time, however if we find ourselves at a point of not moving forward, this may be suggested.
Monte is a certified hypnotherapist with personal experience both as the hypnotist and the client.