Faith and Science: Partners in Healing Wounded Souls
The Integration of Christianity, spirituality, and personal faith with psychological counseling promotes healing and self-understanding.
Christian Spirituality and spiritual traditions in general are intertwined with our moods and mental health. When integrated with psychological counseling they deepen and enrich the journey of healing. Personal faith is a valuable resource when life feels overwhelming and you need a rock upon which to stand. It is a stabilizing resource as you explore necessary changes in your life.
At Cherry Hill, most of our faith clients are Christians looking to resource their faith in their problems or to become a better Christian with better mental health. But many of our clients have other faith traditions in which spirituality is important to them. Also, many of our clients are struggling with faith in light of life suffering and unfairness, and they are angry or wonder, “where is God in all this.” Some are processing their anger at their past faith community for ways it did not work for them, or for abuses they felt there.
In all this, there is the reality that faith and spirituality for most people is a basic “given” of their life. It is part of the fabric of reality, and therefore it is naturally part of the world they need to think through as they sort things out. A God who is there needs to be included or dealt with in straightening out your life issues. Therapy, like spirituality, involves intimacy, and the more intimacy, the more spiritual growth. Closeness to God, like closeness to self and others, involves many spiritual dimensions, like love, truth, gratitude and appreciation, forgiveness, charity, justice, mercy and kindness, and valuing of the Beautiful. The arms God uses to hold us may be those of others. Therapy can help keep you open to the love and truth from God and others.
Ways therapy uses and supports faith include:
- Prayer. Many individuals feel helped when prayer can be part of their time of therapeutic digging. Discussion of prayer and understanding healthy prayer can encourage us to keep moving through times of deep waters.
- Comforting and Challenging Scriptures. The use of sacred writings and theology can help to provide structure and direction to your work in therapy. Words of comfort and teachings that provoke us to consider facing hard things we wish to avoid can work together to shape our commitment to growth.
- Practical Theology. Spirituality in all traditions encourage us to be strong, resilient and patient with life’s troubled times of suffering, loss and unresolved pain. For most of us our faith calls us forth to be wise, humble, and solid as we face hard times. Making this practical theology part of the talks in counseling help keep the journey positive and directional.
- Meaning, Purpose and Philosophy of Life. The Bible talks about people who live by faith values as “salt of the earth.” They have a Truth that provides meaning in their lives, purpose in what they hope to be doing in life, and a philosophy of life that tends to make them bedrock for themselves and other around them. All faith traditions and forms of spirituality look beyond the physical body, the ego and the world systems to broader meanings of life. Therapy benefits from these same “higher callings”.
- Community. Most spirituality encourages life lived in a community of others pursuing spiritual ideals of faith and love. Counseling also seeks to support loving relationships and mutual commitments in clients as part of the path to wholeness and health. Loving and supporting others is part of the road to happiness. Belonging to a community of caring people provides security and support against anxiety in our society of isolation and alienation.
At Cherry Hill we value clients’ faith and want to provide encouragement to integrate personal faith into the process as much as is comfortable. Even the working out of troubling faith issues can be approached in a respectful and spiritually sensitive way. Faith is one of the resources of the search for self knowledge and acceptance of life.
Related Therapist Profiles
The following therapists specialize in Spiritual Concerns
Clark Barshinger, Ph.D.
Practicing clinical psychology for over 50 years, Dr. Clark Barshinger has broad and deep experience counseling patients. His graduate education includes a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from Northwestern University and a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology from DePaul University, and Master’s Degree of Divinity from McCormick Theological Seminary. He works mostly with adults, teens and couples.
Keith Bjorge, Psy.D.
Dr. Keith V. Bjorge is a clinical psychologist with 33+ years of experience. He has experience and passion working with troubled marriages, teen and family related problems, chemical addictions, and mood disorders. Dr. Bjorge earned the Master of Arts and Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology from the Illinois School of Professional Psychology.
Brendan Bell, MA, LCPC
Brendan Bell is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor in Illinois. He has worked in private practice for the last 20 years, with offices in both Deer Park and in Wheaton. His expertise involves working with middle schoolers, adolescents, and their families, with extensive experience addressing behavior disorders. Brendan also works with adults and particularly enjoys counseling artists.
Rick Coffaro, MA, LPC
Rick Coffaro’s work experience prior to Cherry Hill includes twenty-eight years in sales, marketing, and management. The theme of his career was making, building and maintaining relationships. Rick offers first-hand knowledge of life and career transitions. He enjoys working with individuals, couples, adults, adolescents and young adults, and groups.
Gary Gruebnau, MA, LSW
Gary is a social worker with several decades of experience counseling teens, adults, and couples in secular and church settings. He enjoys working with a broad age range of clients from teens to the elderly. His background includes military service, working in the business world, and teaching in both public and private settings.
Michelle Schaefer, MA, LCPC, PMHC
Michelle Schaefer, LCPC, has experience working with adults, couples, teens, and families. Michelle has an advanced certification in Perinatal Mental Health and specialized training in Emotionally Focused Therapy for individuals, couples, and families. Michelle strives to create a secure client-therapist alliance in order to support people as they navigate life challenges and heal relationships.
Patrick Kelly, MA, LCPC, CCATP
Patrick’s mission as a Licensed Professional Counselor is to utilize his diverse life experience and graduate-level education to make a positive difference in the lives of struggling and hurting people. His passion is working with troubled marriages along with helping individuals cope with and rise above anxiety and depression brought about by life’s challenges and difficulties.
Liz Lattof, MA, LCPC, CCATP
As a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor at Cherry Hill Liz works with a wide variety of clients, children, adolescents, families, and adults. She has additional training in play therapy and groups. She enjoys helping people with anxiety, depression, grief, relationship issues, and other challenges and transitions.
John Dichtl, MA, M.Div., LCPC
John Dichtl has worked as a counselor since 2012 in both agency work and private practice. He has focused experience providing couples counseling, and treating mood disorders and addictions. With graduate level training in both therapy and theology, John is uniquely equipped to help clients integrate their psychological and spiritual concerns.
John Kim, MA, LPC
John received his MA in Mental Health Counseling from Trinity International University where he gained experience doing therapeutic work through the university's counseling center. John is committed to building warm, authentic, and meaningful relationships with his clients as he helps them work toward their unique goals. He works with individuals, couples, and groups.
Risa Becker, MA, LPC
Risa is a Licensed Professional Counselor who has a passion for seeing people come into the fullness of what their life could be. Sometimes life takes an unexpected turn, and having someone alongside can make a difference. Other times we need to make a change and need support to make that happen. Either way, I am here for you.
Arielle Miree, MA, LPC
Arielle received her M.A. in Mental Health Counseling from Trinity International University. She has a passion for helping people heal and grow in order to live a meaningful life. She values authentic relationships and creating a safe space for clients. She has experience working with those struggling with addictions and co-occurring disorders. Arielle enjoys working with a variety of clients including athletes and artists.
Alison Yu, MA, M.Div., LPC
Alison Yu, M.Div, MA, LPC, is a bilingual (English and Mandarin Chinese) counselor who is experienced working with individuals, couples and families. She has a special heart for immigrant families. Trained in both psychology and theology, she is passionate about helping people to integrate the Christian faith in their healing process.
Justin Feinberg, MA, M.Div., LPC
Justin’s Graduate education includes both a Master’s degree in Mental Health counseling as well as a Master’s of Divinity from Trinity International University. He works with individuals, couples, and families and has a heart to see relationships flourish and people become who they were meant to be. He has training in Emotionally Focused Therapy and utilizes this toward helping marriages, families, and individuals thrive.
Jennifer Flanagan, MA, LPC
Jennifer has a masters degree in Mental Health Counseling from Trinity International University. She has a passion for helping people see their strengths and potential. She believes this is accomplished through authentic relationships and support for and collaboration with others.
Rebecca Wiegman, MA, LPC
Rebecca received her Master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling from Trinity International University. She has experience working with children, individuals, families, and within groups. Rebecca is enthusiastic about working with different populations and has prior experience in the fields of education, health & fitness, and substance abuse.
Debbie Levine, MSW, LSW
Debbie has worked in both the medical and clinical fields and has amassed much experience helping people navigate their unique life journeys. Her preferred therapeutic approaches include CBT, holistic and mindfulness.
Diann Pomeroy, M.Ed., LPC
Diann has an M.Ed. in Mental Health Counseling from DePaul University. She has a passion for working with women, supporting them across the lifespan as they navigate continuous change and transition. She believes that all parents need support in the parenting journey at every stage and considers being a part of that process a great privilege.
April Wazny, MA
April Wazny received her Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Liberty University. She is passionate about working with children, adolescents and families. She has over 10 years experience working with children, families, blended families, trauma, Autism Spectrum Disorder, special needs and special needs parental support. She has 21 years of experience with Military families.
Anna Subich, Intern Therapist
Anna is an intern therapist completing her final year of studies on her Master of Social Work degree through University of Missouri. Anna is passionate about working with couples who are healing from relational trauma. She also supports the healing process for partners of those with sex/love addictions.
Julie Berry, Intern Therapist
Julie is passionate about working with women, young adults, and individuals helping them find the power within themselves to navigate any struggle they may be facing. She loves forming a strong trusted relationship with her client. She focuses on helping people name their struggles or pains and identify ways to take action toward healing and wholeness. She believes we can learn from life’s experiences as helpful information to understanding ourselves more.