Welcome to Sanctuary Counseling Group

Sanctuary (n): from the Latin sanctus or holy; 1) a sacred or holy place; 2) a place of refuge or safety, a haven; 3) shelter from danger, hardship, or threat.

Sanctuary Counseling Group—formerly known as Methodist Counseling and Consultation Services—has provided mental health counseling and pastoral counseling in the greater Charlotte area and in satellite offices in cities and towns around the western piedmont of North Carolina for over 50 years. To learn more about us and the kinds of services we provide, or to find out how to make an appointment with a therapist in your geographical area, feel free to contact us. We would love to hear from you.

Staff Perspectives:


Many parents come to me feeling frustrated, confused and exhausted after they have tried numerous ways of disciplining their children. Some families with Christian oriented parenting principles ask me "Why aren't the morals we are teaching our children seeking in? Why don't they just treat each other kindly, the way we have taught and modeled?"

To understand effective discipline, it is first important to understand moral development. Lawrence Kohlberg was a moral philosopher and student of child development. He was director of Harvard's Center for Moral Education. His special area of interest is the moral development of children in regards to how they develop a sense of right, wrong, and justice.

The first stage of Kohlberg's moral development is entitled the Pre-Conventional Stage which asks two major questions, "How do I avoid punishment?" and "What's in it for me?" This stage lasts from age two until around the age of twelve, depending on a child's social norms, consistent parenting and personal maturity. This means that children under the age of twelve are motivated by consequences and rewards. The most effective form of discipline and behavior shaping comes from positive reinforcement. Children should be given rewards, verbal praise and consistent privileges that match their compliance to reinforce the behavior that is desired. I often tell parents to find things they are already giving their children, but to be intentional about letting their children know these are given based on their good behavior. These rewards do not have to be costly or extravagant in nature. Examples of positive reinforcement could be special one on one time spent with the child, allowing them to pick what is for dinner or allowing them to choose the activity or television show the family watches that night. Positive reinforcement should be given on the same day to reinforce the child's motivation. Consequences are easily derived from positive rewards as they can often be the opposite of a privilege. For example, losing special one on one time, not allowed to pick their favorite dinner for the week or not allowed to pick the family show or activity.

It is also imperative for parents to help children understand the fact that they have the ability to make positive and negative choices in regards to their behavior. When enforcing discipline, parents should assist their children in seeing that they have chosen the consequence based on choosing to misbehave or be defiant. This promotes self confidence and self awareness in children, which aids them in making positive decisions.

The ACT model is also important to use for effective discipline. This stands for Acknowledge the Feeling, Communicate the Limit and Teach a more appropriate response. For example, if a child hits his younger sister a parent should first point out physical symptoms of feelings to provide awareness and validation for the child's emotions. For example "I can see that you are angry, your face is red, your fists are clenched and you just hit your sister." Communicating the limits allow children to understand why their behavior was wrong and allows them to feel safe due to parental control. "In this house we do not hit each other, when we are angry."

Many parents forget the last step, which I find the most important, in order for children to understand how to express their frustration in healthy ways. "Next time you feel angry, let's try taking a deep breath, punching a pillow or talking to me about what made you angry."

Clear expectations should also be developed and communicated often, but can change as the child becomes more compliant. One way I advise parents to communicate the expectations for their children is through behavior charts. This allows children to visualize and keep track of their daily behavior and rewards.

Shannon White, M.A.

Counseling Resources

While the therapists at Sanctuary Counseling Group are trained in both clinical mental health practices as well as theology/spirituality, we work with a wide range of clients and presenting issues. Check out our frequently asked questions page to learn a little more about us. Also visit the counseling services page or the bio information of our therapists to learn more.

At SCG we strive to make a positive difference in the lives of those we serve.

Resources for Pastors

Sanctuary Counseling Group recognizes the unique needs and stressors of pastors working within the pastorate as well as the needs of the pastoral family. To this end we offer a number of resources specifically for clergy

Check out the Clergy Resources page, including educational and workshop opportunities, counseling and consultation, vocational assessment, and helpful readings. Feel free to contact an SCG therapist in your geographical area for further information. As persons trained in both theology and mental health counseling—and with a high standard of confidentiality—SCG therapists are in a unique position to serve the needs of parish clergy and their families.

Remember …

"Self-care is never a selfish act—it is simply
good stewardship of the only gift I have,
the gift I was put on earth to offer to others."
~Parker Palmer

Supporting Sanctuary Counseling Group

While much of our budget is sustained by client fees, there are also a number of individuals, churches, and organizations that join with us in our ministry. Please consider making a tax deductible contribution to the ministry of Sanctuary Counseling Group. Unless otherwise designated, donations will be used to help supplement the Samaritan Client Assistance Fund, helping to supplement fees for those who might not otherwise be able to afford counseling.

Please visit our Partners in Ministry page for more information or to make a contribution.

"Do not depend on the hope of results. You may have to face the fact that your work will be apparently worthless and even achieve no result at all, if not perhaps results opposite to what you expect. As you get used to this idea, you start more and more to concentrate not on the results, but on the value, the rightness, the truth of the work itself. You gradually struggle less and less for an idea and more and more for specific people. In the end, it is the reality of personal relationship that saves everything."

~ Thomas Merton

Mission Statement

Being dedicated to the healing of heart, mind, and soul, we provide excellent emotional, spiritual, and relational health care to all people of the Carolinas.

Sanctuary Counseling Group is an accredited service center of the American Association of Pastoral Counselors and the Samaritan Institute.