Getting to the Root

I feel very passionately about the impact that counseling can have on a person. I once heard the analogy if an apple tree has a problem with its root system, you can keep pulling off the bad apples or you can try painting them to make the bad fruit look good or you can take the time to nourish and fix the roots so that moving forward healthy fruit is produced.

We are fortunate to live in a community that has a variety of skilled professionals to help navigate the difficulties of life. Recently someone asked us to clarify our partnership with Olson Marriage and Family Therapy versus referring to Biblical counseling. I thought that if that person had questions, maybe you would too.

First off, let me say that I see value in both models of counseling. Biblical counseling trains pastors and lay people to guide individuals to solutions in life using the Bible as the foundational principles. I love digging into God’s word and so many times His wisdom speaks to the situation in my life. We do make referrals to individuals to see their pastor or mentor from church if they are willing to. When talking about mental health or life struggles, we are always seeking out what support systems they already have in place. The church or a trusted Biblical counselor would definitely be one of them.

However, our mission at the clinic is to serve the uninsured or underinsured, regardless of their faith background. We are authentic about who we are as a clinic, but not every patient who comes through our doors is a Christian. In fact, many are of no faith or of another faith, or maybe just really have not even given faith true consideration. We offer to pray with them and answer any questions they may have about faith in Jesus.  Patients report over and over again that they feel loved and truly cared for here, and one of our goals is to extend the love of Jesus Christ to all who come here.

But what about the patients who want counseling services but do not currently believe the Bible is the infallible word of God? I try to conceptualize it as if someone sat down with me and said that my counseling sessions were going to center around the Koran. It just would not be a meaningful experience for me.

This is why we have relationships with many counseling agencies.  The staff at these agencies have been trained at a Master’s level or higher to work with a variety of issues and to understand how brain chemistry impacts our being. A local Christian counseling agency will sometimes provide scholarships for our patients to be seen. There the individual can choose whether or not to integrate God’s word into the counseling process. Sometimes counseling issues take quite some time to work through. Paying for sessions out of pocket just is not an option for many of the uninsured patients we see. They can be seen at the Olson Marriage and Family Therapy clinic on a sliding fee scale. Sessions can cost just a few dollars but no more than $30 for an hour of therapy. Without insurance or sliding-fee scale, a session can be over $150 in our community.

We are thankful that there are multiple types of therapy options available to our patients. We present options, and the patient chooses the one he or she feels most comfortable with. Regardless of what counseling service the patient plugs into, we continue to offer prayer support here at the clinic and encourage patients who are open to it to connect with a local church family. Getting at the root of problems can be difficult and overwhelming, but we are so proud of our patients who want to put in the hard work to become more mentally healthy!

Amy DeLay, Patient Advocate