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.
For our family vacation this year, we travelled to the beautiful country of Costa Rica. We stayed in the Manuel Antonio area; a semi-tropical rain forest on the Pacific Coast. Among the many different activities to do in this area is a canopy tour (or zip-lining). During our planning process for the trip, this was one of the activities my husband and children shared that they definitely wanted to do.
I must confess I wasn't as enthusiastic. Each year our staff here at Sanctuary Counseling Group plans a staff retreat day where we go do some activity as a group. It has changed from year to year including a day on Lake Hickory, a trip to the Whitewater Center, hiking, visiting a spa, and zip-lining. I have what I describe as "height issues," so I have not participated when the staff has gone zip-lining. Whitewater rafting? No problem. Sailing through the air in a harness high above the ground? Not for me.
But I really wanted to share in the experience with my family. So, I signed us all up. On the ride to the site of the canopy tour, El Santuario, our guide explained that there would be 10 lines (including the longest line in Costa Rica) and 19 platforms. As we rode past the African palm tree farms en route to our destination, I practiced some of the exercises I teach clients to move through anxiety. By the time we arrived, I was relatively calm.
The guides helped us with our gear, gave us safety instructions, and before I knew it, it was time for the first zip. I focused on the guide at the other end of the line, and was pleasantly surprised that it wasn't too bad.
The guide attached my safety line to the tree in the center of the platform, and I started walking around the tree. The tree was about five feet in diameter, and as I came around to the other side, I looked up to see a suspension bridge I would climb to the next zip. I took two steps up the two-by-fours that made up the bridge, turned around, and said, "I can't do this."
The guide reattached my safety line to a different part of the tree and let everyone go past me. Then the guide introduced himself. His name was Juan. Juan told me that we would have to go up the suspension bridge and zip the next line before I could get to the ATV that would take me back. He assured me that he would go with me each step of the way. So, he turned around and started gracefully walking backwards up the bridge that I struggled to make myself walk up. And he said to me, "Just focus on my shirt." And I did. I did not look anywhere except at his yellow shirt. And then he started talking, and making conversation, and slowly and carefully, I climbed that bridge.
At the top, he told me once again that he would zip with me, and then I could go back. "Unless," Juan said, "you would like to keep zipping and I will go with you." And I told him, "It's not the zipping that scared me; it was walking up the bridge. But if you'll go with me, I think I can do it."
And so he did. Our family moved to the back of the line, and Juan announced, "Family! I am your adopted son Juan!" and we laughed and continued our journey through the tree tops. And Juan zipped with me. All 10 lines and 19 platforms. Sometimes, I knew he was there, because he would speak. At other times, I could feel his hand very gently touching my shoulder. At other times, I just knew he was there because he told me he would be.
As I reflected later that day, it seemed fitting. I went to El Santuario (which translates The Sanctuary), and I met a companion who helped me do something hard for me—maybe not for someone else, but hard for me—and because of his presence, I was able to do something I never thought I would do.
Many thanks, Juan, your presence made all the difference.
Stacey Watkins-Griffith, D.Min.
"Comparing yourself [with others] is an almost instantaneous way to connect with suffering."
~ Denise Di Novi
"If we're not reflecting on the impermanent nature of life, then there are a lot of unimportant things that seem important. Our jobs seem important. Money seems important. But if we're really reflecting on impermanence then we can see that the important things are compassion and loving others—giving to others and taking care of others."
~ Allison Choying Zangmo
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.
"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."
Support 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.