Mental health crises are increasing, and couples are suffering and seeking help now more than ever. With the presenter’s more than 15 years of clinical experience, she has discovered a reoccurring theme in clinical practice—the counseling they have received has been damaging. This has included harmful and ill-advised Christian counsel to treat mental health issues related to couples and marriage, such as trauma, divorce, personality disorders, emotional and religious abuse, and mental illness. Complex psychological cases require necessary clinical training and professional education of the brain, the nervous system, and the attachment system so a couple is not disadvantaged. Using examples based on real-life clients, licensed mental health professionals and ministry leaders will learn when counsel can cause undue suffering for couples under their care and how the clinician or ministry leader’s own beliefs, defenses, and projections stall and even hurt the counseling process. It is essential that the Christian community, helping professions, and counseling fields gain the tools and expertise necessary to provide relationship recovery, lasting healing, and restoration of marriages.
708 | Redeeming Harmful Counsel: A Path Forward for Complex Couples in Crisis After Religious Abuse
Andrea Anderson Polk, M.A.
Approved For CE
Licensed Professional Counselors, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists, Licensed Clinical Social Workers, Pastors, Pastoral Counselors, Lay Counselors, Coaches
Approved For CME/CEU
1. Identify how to help clients navigate the difficult question: “Should I stay or leave the relationship?” by identifying specific behavioral steps leading to the answer
2. Discuss the invisible wounds of emotional abuse and religious abuse and how to avoid providing ill-advised counsel and labeling it as biblical
3. Describe proper assessment, treatment, and referrals with complex cases of Christian couples in crisis pertaining to personality disorders, mental illness, and divorce
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