What kind of counseling does Cross Church offer?
Cross Church offers two kinds of counseling.
- Formal counseling is offered through Julie Crawford, who holds a Master of Arts in Counseling from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
- Informal counseling is offered through our pastoral staff, many of whom have been seminary-trained in various theological fields. Styles and approaches vary with each pastor or minister on staff.
Who is Julie Crawford and what is her approach to counseling?
Julie has been trained in clinical counseling, and uses an integrative approach, giving Scripture the ultimate authority in all things. She is committed to providing a balanced and biblical approach to counseling. She is a believer in Christ with special training and experience in applying the truths of the Bible to life. She believes Scripture is sufficient to speak to all of life and to all of its problems, but sometimes it takes careful thought and prayerful wisdom to know how to make those connections. She believes that the Bible ultimately points us to a person and a relationship – Jesus Christ as our Savior and Redeemer, and that real change comes when people learn to see themselves and their problems in the context of a living, vital relationship with Christ. She believes that deep and lasting change is brought about only by God himself through the power of the Holy Spirit, with a strong emphasis on the influence of living in healthy, encouraging community. Her counsel is based upon the Scriptures first and foremost, and other Christian teachings that align with the truths of God’s Word. She is passionate about helping people find hope and healing in the context of a growing, abiding relationship with Jesus.
Does Cross Church have licensed counselors?
No. Cross Church does not have licensed counselors, psychiatrists, or psychologists on staff. We provide church-based counseling only. We greatly respect professionals in the counseling field, and believe their services are often needed. We also believe that the Church has a unique role in bringing the hope of the Gospel, the wisdom of Scripture, and the care of the local church to bear upon people’s problems and suffering.
What kinds of problems does the counseling ministry address?
Formal counseling through Cross Church focuses on present problems and specific situations or behaviors. It is action and behavior focused and is not designed to be a long-term therapeutic solution for an individual or couple.
Formal counseling for individuals addresses many but not all of the challenges people may face. Some of the emotional challenges addressed are problematic anxiety, depressive symptoms, anger, grief/loss, insecurity/low self-esteem, life adjustments/transitions, spiritual doubts/confusion, relationship challenges, acute trauma, and living with chronic illness.
Formal counseling for married couples utilizes the Prepare Enrich assessment, is Scripture-focused, and has a coaching approach designed to focus on the present moving forward, helping the couple recognize hardships in the marriage and navigate frequent struggles. The spouses learn to better understand each other and discover solutions for specific issues as a couple. It helps the couple move from where they are to where they want to be, giving them new tools/skills for enhanced communication and conflict resolution. If your marriage needs more specialized help to address past hurts, mental health issues, or other behaviors that are beyond coaching, a professional referral may be in order.
What kinds of problems does the counseling ministry refer to professionally licensed counselors?
There are certain problems that are better handled by trained, licensed professionals. These types of problems include substance addiction, sexual addiction, eating disorders requiring medical intervention, situations involving child abuse/geriatric abuse/domestic violence, chronic self-harm or suicidal tendencies involving imminent risk, homicidal tendencies, personality disorders, disorders with psychotic features (hallucinations and delusions), and chronic or complex trauma.
Additionally, if a long-term therapeutic relationship is needed or desired, or if the counselee would better benefit from a more specialized approach or training than Cross Church can offer, then a referral to a professional may be in order.
The counseling ministry does have a robust referral service, and is committed to helping people get connected with the professional help they need if the need cannot be serviced by the counseling ministry or pastoral staff of Cross Church.
What are other limitations of the counseling ministry?
We do not diagnose mental illness, prescribe medication, manage or advise about medications, get involved in legal/courtroom matters, or collaborate with professionals such as medical doctors and professional therapists. In addition, if you have significant legal, financial, medical, or other technical matters/questions, you should seek direction from independent professionals.
If your counseling subject requires any of the above services, counseling at Cross Church would not be the best fit for your needs. This includes counseling subjects that require professional representation in a court setting by a counselor.
Who qualifies to receive counseling?
Only members of Cross Church qualify to receive counseling at Cross Church. This is a ministry to the church body. In addition, because counseling is conducted by unlicensed staff members, the Arkansas licensing board limits services to church members only.
Formal counseling is available for individuals and married couples ages 18 and over. The counseling ministry will provide referrals to area counselors if the counseling need is for those under age 18, or whole family units. However, our pastoral staff does provide informal pastoral counsel for children and adolescents in our age-graded ministries, as well as adults, couples, and families. This includes pre-marital counseling. If informal pastoral counseling is desired, the counseling office can help connect you with the right pastoral staff member to best meet your needs.
Referral services to professionals in the area are available for anyone – both members and non-members.
How many counseling sessions does Cross Church offer, how frequently are sessions scheduled and how long do they last?
Cross Church provides up to six (6) formal sessions per individual or couple. Formal sessions are scheduled weekly or bi-weekly, and last between 45-60 minutes. It is important that you be on time for your session, because a session will not be extended if you arrive late. Additionally, if you are more than 15 minutes late, your session may be canceled.
Informal sessions with the pastoral staff vary in length and frequency.
What days and times are counseling sessions scheduled?
Sessions with Julie are scheduled Monday-Wednesday from 9 AM - 5 PM by appointment only. If you desire informal counseling with pastoral staff members, Julie can help connect you with the pastor/minister that would best meet your needs. Dates and times vary according to each pastor’s schedule and availability.
How do I make an appointment for counseling?
If you are a member of Cross Church, and after reading these FAQs you determine that church-based counseling would be a good fit for you, you can use the “Request for Help” link on the main counseling page. Someone will respond to your request by phone within 2-3 business days, and a determination will be made if the counseling services at Cross Church best fit your needs, or if a referral to professional help would be a better fit for you. Please be aware that the counseling ministry is not an emergency service, and an immediate appointment will not be possible. If you have a medical or mental health emergency, you should call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room or mental health facility.
Is there a fee for counseling, and if so, what is it and how do I pay?
For formal counseling, the fee per session is $20. You will receive a confirmation link by text the day before your appointment. Please use that link to confirm and pay by credit or debit card by 5 PM that same day to reserve your time. If you fail to confirm and pay by 5 PM, your session may be rescheduled.
There is no fee for informal counseling with pastoral staff.
What is the cancellation policy?
For formal sessions, a 24-hour notice is required for all cancellations, except due to sudden illness that would require taking a “sick day” from work or school. If a session is canceled with less than 24-hour notice and it is not due to sudden illness, your payment for that session will be forfeited. All missed appointments (“no shows”) will also result in forfeited payment.
In the case of three (3) last minute cancellations (less than 24 hours notice) or “no shows” in a row, you will be asked to wait three (3) months before scheduling another session to give other people the opportunity to access care.
Even though there is no formal cancellation policy for informal sessions with pastoral staff, we ask that you be considerate of the pastors’ schedules and communicate clearly if you will not be able to make an appointment.
What happens if I still need counseling after my six formal counseling sessions are over?
If further counseling is needed or desired after counseling with Julie is completed, she will help connect you with a professional counselor in the community for further help.
Another option is to meet with a member of the pastoral staff for ongoing member care on a pastoral level.
What can I expect during my counseling sessions?
Counseling requires a collaborative relationship and a willingness to work. Because counseling involves exploring painful places in order to find healing, you may experience discomfort and unpleasant feelings at times. This may result in disruption and turmoil in your life.
If you come with a desire to change, and the willingness to work hard in between sessions, you will see the best results. You will only reach your goals with ongoing effort and hard work. Your results from counseling depend on what you put into it. Counseling is not a passive activity. Purposeful, ongoing work outside of counseling sessions is needed to find lasting freedom from any specific problem or challenge. Remember that your problems did not occur overnight, so they will not be resolved overnight either. Counseling often leads to better relationships, solutions to problems, and a reduction of distressing feelings. Please be aware that there is no guarantee of a specific result in counseling.
During counseling, you will receive “tools” that you can use in your life as you work through current problems and encounter new ones after your counseling is complete. The counseling process includes collaborative goal setting and “homework” designed to help you meet your goals, as well as check-ins and evaluations along the way. Because the process is designed to help you find your own answers through the leadership of the Holy Spirit, you will not receive “advice” or “solutions”, but rather direction. Consider counseling the beginning of a journey toward a correct and greater understanding of God, yourself as his beloved child, your uniqueness and purpose in this world, and your problems in light of the teachings of Scripture. Prayerfully, this will result in a deeper, abiding relationship with Him, from where all answers ultimately come.
The goal of counseling is not to eliminate problems and produce a “finished product.” Unless you are at peace with this reality, you will never feel like life is “good enough” to free you from counseling. Scripture says we will always have pain and suffering as long as we are on this earth (John 16:33). The goal of counseling is to learn to navigate through rough emotional and relational times properly so they do not cause impairment in the ability to engage your primary life roles.
How do I know if counseling is the best way to deal with my struggle?
God created his children to heal and grow in relationship with each other. That is one of the important reasons why the local church is so necessary in the life of a Christian. Every aspect of Cross Church has a therapeutic component – Sunday morning worship, small groups, service to the body of Christ, etc. People oftentimes experience healing before they ever see a counselor when they embrace all aspects of church involvement, become honest with themselves and others in the context of safe relationships, allow direction and accountability from fellow believers, and allow themselves to be loved by and grow with others.
If you have done these things and still have struggles, then counseling can be an option for you as one component of your therapeutic process. If you still feel isolated and confused, your problem is getting worse and more frequent, you find yourself trying to numb your emotions, or you find yourself withdrawing or becoming unproductive in life due to your problem, then counseling may be for you. In addition, counseling provides a confidential relationship that becomes a temporary place of safety to work through difficult issues.
Keep in mind, though, that the knowledge, insight, and direction you gain from counseling still must be worked out in community and not in isolation. That is why we will always approach the process with a member with holistic healing in mind involving other aspects of the church and opportunities outside the counseling room.
Are our meetings confidential?
Confidentiality for counseling with any staff member at Cross Church is defined by pastor-parishioner privilege because we are a local church, and therefore, our staff members operate as agents of the church (pastors/ministers), not agents of the state (licensed counselors.) Confidentiality is an important aspect of our counseling process. We will carefully guard the information entrusted to us.
In formal counseling, Julie provides each counselee with a very thorough explanation of confidentiality as it pertains to his/her personal information. This is laid out in the Informed Consent to Counseling, and gone over in session before counseling ever begins. You may ask questions about this at any time during the counseling process
(Note for those involved with couple counseling: Because your counselor will be entrusted with information from both partners of a relationship, there is a policy of “No Secrets”, which means that your counselor cannot promise to protect secrets of one partner from the other, especially if the secret is harmful or destructive to the process of the counseling itself or undermines the agreed-upon intention of the counseling.)
If you are engaged in informal counseling with a member of the pastoral staff, you may ask questions anytime about their policy regarding confidentiality.
What are the differences between meeting with Julie and meeting with a Cross Church pastor?
- Pastoral interactions are not exclusively problem-focused because you will talk to your pastor about more than just your struggles, and live in community together. Formal counseling with Julie is an intentional relationship predicated upon overcoming a challenge or navigating a life transition.
- Pastors offer ongoing relationships, Julie offers a short-term relationship. When your counseling goals are met, your formal relationship with Julie ceases, but your relationship with your pastors continue.
- Pastoral relationships are mutually beneficial. A relationship with Julie is singularly beneficial – the relationship exists to benefit the counselee.
- Pastors speak out of personal experience and biblical principles; Julie speaks out of biblical principles and advanced training. Pastors are not expected to know “best practices” for various life struggles. Their criteria for ministry qualification is based upon character and doctrine more than counseling competence. Julie has been formally trained and holds a Master of Arts in Counseling from a Southern Baptist seminary. Many of the pastors are seminary-trained and hold master’s degrees in various theological fields.
- Pastors adhere to informal relational protocols. Julie adheres to formal relational protocols. Conversations with pastors occur in church hallways, on the phone, or in a small group settings, among other places. Conversations with Julie are by appointment only, held in a church office, and adhere to special confidentiality principles. In addition, the process with Julie includes an Informed Consent, intake forms, and a fee for her service. There is no charge for informal pastoral counsel, no paperwork involved, time and place are flexible, and there is not necessarily a structure to the process.
- The content (biblical substance) of the interaction with a member of our pastoral team and Julie should be very similar. Both forms of care are “ministry”; they are Bible-based forms of care intended to navigate the challenges of life with the hope of the Gospel in order to experience the full life God intends. However, the nature of the relationship is different between our pastoral team and Julie. Pastoral counsel is informal, based on life experience, and open-ended. Julie provides formal counseling based on particular training and is a short-term, goal-focused relationship.