In the mid-1980s Dr Clyde McDowell, then senior pastor of Mission Hills Church and soon to become president of Denver Seminary, conceived of a church extension ministry that would bring God's grace together with the best of clinical expertise to meet the mental health needs of people throughout the Colorado Front Range.
This ministry would support itself through fee-based services, and would also reach the low-income populace through donor-supoorted reduced-fee and pro bono services.
In 1986, with the help of two Christian psychologists, Mission Hills Church launched the ministry, setting up the first Southwest Counseling Associates office near Mineral and Broadway in Littleton. Within five years, SCA outgrew that office and moved to its current location at 141 West Davies Avenue in Littleton.
SCA grew to become the largest evangelical Christian counseling agency in the Rocky Mountain west with 19 licensed professional therapists and two satellite locations. Though we are now an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, SCA maintains a close affiliation with Mission Hills Church. We also pursue working relationships with other like-minded organizations, including churches and parachurch ministries.
Something addicted people don’t understand is how ritualized their addictive behaviors are. This applies to all addictive behaviors. The process from temptation to the addictive behavior through its action and the fallout afterwards are often predictable, repetitive, rationalized in similar ways and include minimization of any consequences.
One useful strategy to increase self-awareness is to outline by separate steps the journey through the repetitive behavior. Include actions, thoughts, and feelings. An example of an addiction to pornography might be: I feel alone think looking at porn will be exciting wait until no one is nearby pick the device on which I can hide my “tracks” start to “just look” visit my typical websites get aroused etc.
Put in as much specific detail on each step. Be sure to do this outline into the next day. People are frequently surprised at how predictable and dysfunctional their ritual is. Hope for change comes in part by knowing the arrow between each step represents an opportunity to do something different and healthier, and actually help break out of this addictive pattern.
Doug Feil, MS, LPC
Students use the Internet for academic purposes, and all persons use the Internet for exploring the web and contacting friends and family. These are valuable opportunities for keeping in touch with all aspects of our society and our world. However, the Internet can be dangerous due to inappropriate material and online predators who seek victims of all ages.
Here are some ideas that can help insure the safety of members of your household when using the Internet:
For more information on Internet protection go to http://www.netsmartz.org.
Joan Jones, PsyD, Licensed Psychologist
According to David Benner in The Gift of Being, my spiritual transformation requires that I accept myself, just as I allow God to accept me. Until I accept myself, I can never truly know myself and so cannot enter fully into a knowing relationship with God.
My self-acceptance must include those parts of me that I wish to change; in fact I can begin to change them only after I have accepted them. How good it is to know that God “made us accepted in the Beloved,” Ephesians 1:6 (NKJV). Self-acceptance is not denial or permissiveness; it is a reflection of God’s overpowering, transforming Grace.
Julie Valenziano, MA, LPC
“We do not want merely to see beauty, though, God knows, even that is bounty enough. We want, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves.” - C. S. Lewis from The Weight of Glory.
I find this quote so true it is hard to express at times. True beauty, not the high gloss, high fashion, air brushed kind, but true beauty has a way about it. It stills, it restores, I think it even redeems. Think of this, your beautiful spouse tucking her hair absent-mindedly behind her ear, or a father’s gentle way with his sleeping child, and the silent swirls of a peaceful blooming rose.
True beauty has a way of almost making me hold my breath, or lose it. And I seek it for its nourishment, hungrily.
Jodi Top, LCSW
Communicating with the people in our lives can often be like one big game of "telephone." The messages we interpret from one another can be very different from the message the speaker intended to send.
This problem is only magnified by the expansion of technological communication, where complex messages are conveyed in short phrases and texts. When an offense occurs, rather than assume that the message was automatically interpreted correctly, we are wise to first clarify the message.
Confirming that the message received was interpreted as the speaker intended it to be can decrease those destructive games of "telephone" and increase true understanding.
Joel MacFarland, M.Div, MSW
I have found over the years in working with people experiencing depression and anxiety that guilt has a sneaky way of weaving itself into the mix. People more than likely feel an extreme sense of guilt over feeling sad or worried about something. Often Christians will slip into the thinking of “if I had enough faith or trusted in God I would not be feeling anxious” or “if I was really living as a believer I would be experiencing joy in my life and not this sadness.” This kind of thinking spirals people deeper into the anxiety or depression that they are already legitimately experiencing.
In reading the Psalms it is safe to say that there were seasons where David experienced feelings of depression as well as anxiety. My hope is to encourage people to feel the freedom to acknowledge what they are experiencing and to let go of the expectation that if they were “doing things right” they would not feel sad or anxious. The removal of this kind of thinking can free us up to move forward. Guilt always magnifies and always keeps us stuck.
Elizabeth Dodrill, MA, LPC
How we think or ponder about things or circumstances affects how we see life. If we are tuned into the negatives around us, there is a very good chance that we won't even notice when good things happen. This is what CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) is all about.
"whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things." Philippians 4:8
Using a set of binoculars helps a person look more closely at something of interest, but it also limits the other distractions.... Choose what you would prefer to focus your attention on!
Todd Challis, LCSW
Learn how MCS serves Christ's global messengers and those who send them. Besides counseling, services include screening, education and crisis intervintion.
Find information and insights from staff and friends of SCA: