Lutheran Counseling Center Adapts

Lutheran Counseling Center Adapts

Over the last two years, the world has been bombarded with words pouring fear into our lives. No person could have anticipated what was coming, nor could they have forecasted the changes left in its wake. Every one of us has had to find our own way through our new normal.

Unprecedented, pandemic, COVID 19, new normal, masks, variants, vaccines, mandates, quarantine, isolation, — each word causing many to drown in a life filled with anxiety and dread.

Over the last two years, the world has been bombarded with words pouring fear into our lives. No person could have anticipated what was coming, nor could they have forecasted the changes left in its wake. Every one of us has had to find our own way through our new normal.

For some, navigating new challenges may have resulted in even greater difficulties that interfere with our ability to function on a day-to-day basis. Sleeping problems, eating disorders, substance abuse, and/or feeling extreme sadness for more than two weeks are just a few of the indicators that outside support may be beneficial.

Where can Christians find faith-based, trusted guidance when our life takes a turn for the worse?

We can contact the Lutheran Counseling Center of New York (LCC).

The Lutheran Counseling Center is a healing ministry of the Church offering health, hope, and wholeness by serving individuals, families, congregations, and our community. LCC offers assistance so people can work through their deepest issues, knowing they are supported, loved, and understood, while ensuring people that they will not have to face their trials alone.

“LCC counselors listen, giving people the space they need to question God, and rejoice along with them at the most important moment of grace when they realize God has been with them throughout their entire ordeal,” responds Molly W. Blancke (MPA, BSW, BA), who has been the Executive Director of Lutheran Counseling Center in New York since 2006.

Before coming to New York, Molly was the Social Services Director for a large nursing home complex for eight years. She had previously worked as a social worker advocate with mentally challenged children and their families, encouraging and fostering independence in their communities. An accomplished church organist and pianist, Molly and has worked in the past for several churches in music director positions.

Asking Molly about how LCC has responded to the needs of people throughout the pandemic, she replied, “COVID has resulted in a tsunami of mental issues and needs. We are working hard to support people who are navigating the very real challenges of life resulting from pandemic issues that still continue today”.

One previous recipient of LCC services said, “The hardest thing I had to do was to make the initial phone call admitting I needed help. The counseling sessions may not have been easy, but they were extremely helpful and truly assisted me in my well-being.”

From the LCC website: We value each person as a unique and worthy creation of God. LCC recognizes and celebrates the connection between one’s faith and the process of growth and healing. At the same time, being sensitive and respecting the religious views of the other person is a part of who we are in meeting the hurting person where he or she is. Our counselors serve persons and families of all different ethnic and religious backgrounds.

Through prayer and counseling, we can recognize things such as sadness, anger, and despair, and then lean into our faith, trust God, and count our blessings as we are honest with ourselves about our true emotions.

A greater demand for additional counseling sessions has resulted in LCC’s counselors’ increased need to care for themselves. They are continually asked, “How are you feeling? How are you coping? How are you handling the upsurge of those in need during this health crisis?”

When asking Ms. Blancke about her dreams for the future of mental health services for the Church and for LCC, she replied, "In light of the statistical fact that one in four people, including our own church members and families, are dealing with mental health issues in their lives at any one time, it would be healthy for everyone to feel comfortable speaking about those issues and therefore, normalize the need for services.

“We as a Church body can greatly reduce both visitors' and congregational members' stigmas in seeking help by adapting the following regular practices into our services: praying openly for those struggling with mental health issues; regularly including references to those suffering from depression, anxiety and relationship difficulties in sermons; having resource literature, from LCC and others, that members can see each Sunday (maybe in narthex or common area) and take home; arranging for guest speakers and/or educational seminars to address specific mental health needs such as depression, grief, and loss; addressing anxiety and panic attacks; and discussing aging loss issues.

“It would be great for pastors to research their own community's resources, including LCC, and be prepared to respond with good mental health referrals, prayer, and compassion when people ask for help. It is vital that we spread the word that help is available for those wrestling with mental health issues as well as the greater message that it is normal for everyone to have these issues at least sometime in the average person's life.”

Lutheran Counseling Center needs your support. Your tax deductible donation of any size will help LCC transform lives through the support it provides.

Maybe you would like to become a “Hope and Healing Partner” where your recurring gift of $10 or more can mean a change in someone’s life. Being an H&HP will also allow you to receive special updates, showing what your recurring gift is accomplishing.

And finally, your church can become an “Association Congregation.” For the small fee of $600 per year, Association Congregations are able to send up to 6 church members for counseling sessions at a reduced rate.

Lutheran Counseling Center is available for you! Services are available through a secure telehealth platform during the pandemic and, in normal times, at nine church based sites. Services are available on a sliding scale and can be made available for those who cannot afford them. Skilled, New York licensed Christian Counselors are ready, willing, and able to assist any individual who needs help navigating the very real challenges of life.

All you need to do is to make the call.

For more information regarding Lutheran Counseling Services, please visit their website at lccny.org.

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