“You are never too old to set another goal, or to dream a new dream.”

– C.S. Lewis


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Relationships: Premarital & Marital


PREPARE/ENRICH is a customized couple assessment completed online that identifies a couple’s strength and growth areas. It is one of the most widely used programs for premarital counseling and premarital education. It is also used for marriage counseling, marriage enrichment, and dating couples considering engagement. Based on a couple’s assessment results, a trained facilitator provides 4-8 feedback sessions in which the facilitator helps the couple discuss and understand their results as they are taught proven relationship skills.

Hands holding

Before choosing a PREPARE/ENRICH facilitator, you should feel comfortable with their answers to the following questions:

  • What training and experience do you have working with couples?
  • How many feedback sessions do you typically recommend?
  • How much do you charge for taking the couple inventory and receiving feedback?
  • What expectations do you have of the couples you are counseling/educating?
  • Are you a licensed counselor or therapist? If yes, in what field?
  • Do you work from a specific faith tradition?

Donna has been using Prepare/Enrich for pre-marital and marital counseling since 1998. She also trains Pastors, Clergy and Mental Health Professionals in the use of the inventory within their specialty areas.

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Grief, Loss, & Bereavement

What is Grief?

Grief is a natural healing response following a loss or change in life.  It is a process that involves your whole being. It is a physical, emotional, intellectual, social and spiritual experience. When you lose someone or something, like a job, that gave you purpose, value, meaning, or security, you grieve. Grief is universal, individual, painful, cumulative, normal and hard work.

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Complicated Grief

Some people have difficulty healing because the grief process is blocked or buried.  This may be caused by multiple losses in a short time, lack of support from family or friends, or a traumatic unanticipated loss like suicide or an accident. The use of drugs or alcohol can have the same effect.

Sometimes our grief can feel like it is too much to bear. When this happens, let an experienced counselor help you work through the intense emotional responses you may be feeling.

Counseling can provide help with complicated grief and promote healing.

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Depression, Anxiety, Stress & Anger

Depression, Anxiety, Anger and Stress are some of the most common reasons to seek the help of a professional counselor. All of these issues can be considered a “normal” response to human experience and survival. However, when our depressed mood, anxiety, stress-response and or intense anger cause problems for us then counseling may be a beneficial and effective method for returning us to optimal living.

Reasons to seek the help of a professional:

  • Profound sadness
  • Low self-esteem
  • Feelings of helplessness and/or hopelessness
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Inability to maintain healthy relationships
  • Problems with job, friends, significant relationships
  • Social isolation
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Change in eating habits and weight
  • Self-medicating with drugs/alcohol

Counseling methods such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Emotional Regulation Skills Training, and Stress Reduction Techniques are very effective at treating these and many other issues.

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Abuse: Physical, Sexual, Emotional & Spiritual

What defines abuse?

It’s a wide spectrum of behaviors that in some way causes harm to another. Abuse can take many forms: physical, emotional/psychological, verbal, sexual, spiritual, economic etc.

It has many negative effects on an individual and those may include: safety, quality of relationships, ability to obtain and maintain employment, support systems, faith practices, mental health issues, and chronic medical conditions.

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What follows are some general principles, gleaned from professional counselors, for breaking the cycle of abuse in your life and for beginning the recovery and healing process. They are easy to understand, but difficult to implement. ALWAYS REMEMBER: SAFETY FIRST!

Before applying these principles to your situation, it’s best to seek help from a trained professional.

  • Tell yourself the truth. Denial is a hallmark of abuse. Admit you are being abused and recognize the damage it has done.
  • Seek professional help and guidance. There is no one-size-fits-all prescription for healing. You need a trained professional to assess your situation and your safety, to help you deal with emotional baggage from the past and to help you develop a strategy for change. Healing is a lengthy and sometimes difficult journey fraught with emotional landmines. You’ll need help and professional guidance to walk through potentially explosive and destructive situations.
  • Set appropriate boundaries. In the excellent book, Boundaries—When to Say Yes, When to Say No to Take Control of Your Life, Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend, explain how and when to set appropriate, biblical boundaries. However appropriate, set boundaries with caution; it may escalate the abuse. Experts recommend seeking professional help to guide and encourage you.
  • Find and maintain healthy relationships. It is critical to seek support from friends, family, and, ideally, your church.

“Pastors, church leaders and church members vary in their ability to give support to women in difficult marriages,” says Downing. “Always be willing to reach out to your church for support, but remember that staff may not have the same training as professional counselors.”

Support groups led by a trained professional are wonderful sources of healing and comfort. Work to build healthy, biblical friendships and relationships. Research has shown that healthy social connections contribute to better overall health.

With professional help—and by following these principles, you can break the cycle of abuse in your life and begin your healing journey.

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Codependency is generally characterized as a constant need to “help” others, especially a primary partner who may be addicted to drugs and alcohol. Personal needs get put aside to try and meet the needs of the person or others. Feelings of low self esteem, anxiety, depression, loneliness, helplessness may be common.

People who experience codependency can benefit from treatment that will address the loss of self. Family of origin, abuse/neglect, and many other issues and experiences can lead to the development of codependency behaviors. Counseling can help a person identify and understand these behaviors as they relate to past experiences. Then the person’s emotional reactions and behavioral responses can be transformed.  Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Trauma Therapy and other therapies are highly effective forms of treatment for codependency.

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Chronic Illness

What are the psychosocial needs of people with a chronic illness?

Chronic illness is a pervasive, often distressing condition that may cause significant psychological changes and impact one’s psychological adjustment. According to a report by the Institute of Medicine (2008), people with a chronic illness need help to learn how to:

  • Cope with the intense, sometimes debilitating, emotions related to their illness.

  • Change behaviors in order to minimize the impact of their disease and maximize treatment protocol.

Person in a hospital bed

  • Manage the disruptions their illness may cause to their work, school and family life.

What role do Counselors play in treating clients with chronic illnesses?

Counselors have many different roles and provide important psychosocial and behavioral health services to clients with Chronic Illness.

These include:

  • Health Service Provider. Counselors provide mental and behavioral health services to chronically ill patients (e.g., assessment, intervention and consultation).

  • Teacher. Counselors provide education and training regarding the psychosocial influences of chronic illness on health, which helps clients develop better self-care and self-management skills to decrease the impact of disease and prevent future health complications.

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Donna offers counseling services from a faith sensitive perspective, and is committed to providing guidance and intervention using biblically-based values. Client healing and restoration are the goals of effective counseling. Spiritual, psychological, emotional, physical, social and environmental factors are all explored during the initial assessment.

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