As we all know, the past year and a half has been very hard. With incidence of mental illness already on the rise before COVID-19, the demand for mental health care has only skyrocketed as a result of the grief, fear, and isolation that the pandemic has caused. At Redeemer Counseling Services, our mission is to serve the city by providing affordable gospel-centered mental health care and we’re seeing that people need gospel-based renewal now more than ever.
Here, Michael, a former client at Redeemer Counseling Services, shares his story.
“I moved from Oregon to New York for a job that I had spent the last several years trying to get. The job did not fulfill me and I felt my mental health and depression spiral out-of-control. Just six months after I had started my job, my depression became more severe and I went on disability leave.
I went to Redeemer Counseling Services for two years and it drastically improved my health and transformed my relationship with God and with the people in my life.
At Redeemer Counseling I saw a psychiatrist who for the first time diagnosed me with bipolar disorder. At age 30, I had been to psychiatrists for over 20 years, but with the help of the RCS counselor I was finally correctly diagnosed. Changing my medication alone was transformational, and my time with my counselor helped even more. I was able to identify that I had grown up undiagnosed with bipolar and dyslexia in a family that both stigmatized and did not believe in mental health. I was treated as if my difficulties were from a lack of character and that I was immoral.
I was able to identify that I had grown up undiagnosed with bipolar and dyslexia in a family that both stigmatized and did not believe in mental health. I was treated as if my difficulties were from a lack of character and that I was immoral.
This shaped how I viewed myself. I was afraid that I was deficient and I developed complex coping mechanisms to prevent me from having to confront this fear. Now I understood why I wanted that job with all the buzz words. It was so I could lie to myself. “I’m not deficient if I have a job managing machine learning products. I’m not deficient if companies are willing to pay me a lot.”
It’s true, I’m not deficient. There is no moral value to being bipolar. There are merely advantages and disadvantages. But the reason I have value has nothing to do with my job or productivity. It has to do with the incredible and nearly unfathomable fact that the God of this universe deeply loves and values me. Through gospel-centered and cognitive behavioral therapy, I now have a toolset to help me process and understand what I’m going through and prevent relapses.
Now my major life decisions are no longer captive to my fear of being deficient. I am free to pursue the interests and passions that God has given me. Being healed in very practical ways from Redeemer Counseling Services, I am enabled to both experience God’s love in new and powerful ways and by extension, show God’s love to New York City through the work and projects I choose to pursue.
There is no way that I can capture how much Redeemer Counseling has changed my life.
See a video of Michael’s story here: counseling.redeemer.com/about/stories_of_change
Disturbing trends in mental health and growing demand
Michael’s experience is one of many in the growing demand for gospel-centered counseling in the face of a shortage of professional therapists who offer such services. In the wake of the pandemic, researchers are following disturbing mental health trends and experts are pointing to a “‘tsunami of psychiatric illness.’” According to a recent New York Times article, two out of five people in the U.S. are struggling with a mental health issue such as anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, domestic abuse or substance abuse. Moreover, people are still experiencing an increased level and duration of distress, threat of physical harm or death, losses, social isolation, as well as racial and political divides. These have destabilized our sense of safety and security in life.
Gospel-Centered Therapy Changes Lives
Michael’s story represents the gospel transformation that is taking place in 3,000+ lives that Redeemer Counseling helps to heal through its Gospel-Centered Integrative Framework for Therapy (GIFT). Gospel-centered counseling is crucial as people are seeking counseling for more than symptom relief, but also to explore their questions about identity, God, and the meaning of life. Integrating the gospel within the framework of a professional counseling relationship provides a unique opportunity for people to experience Christ’s transformative healing.
But the reason I have value has nothing to do with my job or productivity. It has to do with the incredible and nearly unfathomable fact that the God of this universe deeply loves and values me.
Growing Gospel Hope
Redeemer Counseling is continuing to expand its reach in providing gospel hope and care throughout the city and beyond. Along with training its counselors in its Gospel-Centered Integrative Framework for Therapy (GIFT), it is also focusing on equipping pastors and ministry leaders in its unique approach. Such programs include its Counseling Fellows Program and other workshops and consultations geared towards combining gospel integration with practical counseling skills. Other equipping initiatives include curriculum development, such as the “Mourning with Hope” grief curriculum in response to churches and ministries needing a resource to help people grieve their many losses.
Since its inception 30 years ago, Redeemer Counseling has touched over 20,000 lives. But we know we cannot do this alone. This year, as we become financially self-sustaining exclusively through client fees and individual donations, we know it is only together, with our friends and supporters, that we will be able to share the hope of the gospel to bring healing in the lives of our clients.
Redeemer Counseling Services is a non-profit ministry that offers affordable and professional Christian psychotherapy for individuals and training for ministry leaders. They offer a sliding scale fee schedule subsidized by donations from individuals. Learn more at counseling.redeemer.com