Finding a good counselor

Finding a counselor who is competent to counsel victims of abuse can be quite challenging. Some counselors have a good understanding of domestic abuse but many do not.

Catherine DeLoach Lewis is a Christian counselor who was untrained in domestic abuse until—by the providence of God—she woke up. We interviewed her on this blog and she said:

I began my professional counseling career August, 1998. I was working with a married couple and in what came to be our last marriage counseling session, I noticed how close he was sitting to her and how he kept smiling and squeezing her hand. I also noticed how frightened she looked. I knew something was very wrong but I did not know what it was.

The next day I was attending a workshop on domestic violence and substance abuse. During my first break, I called the wife of this couple and said, “I am in a workshop on domestic violence and now I know what is wrong in your marriage. I will not conduct marriage counseling because now I understand you are not safe disclosing your concerns in front of your husband. If you can forgive me, I would love to work with you in individual counseling to help you work on your safety concerns. Would you be willing to work with me individually?” Through her sobbing on the phone, she said yes.

I heard of a psychiatrist who repeatedly told a twice-victimised woman, “Put it behind you; don’t think about it; get on with your life.” This survivor had left two abusive husbands and had many post-traumatic symptoms. At that stage she hadn’t dealt with all her horrific memories: she was getting flash backs, she was easily triggered and she was struggling to deal with many practical aspects of her life. Thanks to the encouragement of other survivors, she eventually joined a survivors’ support group. With astonishment she told me how much that group helped her disentangle and process her memories and recover from the abuse.

It’s naïve to expect that psychologists are more likely to pick up on domestic abuse than psychiatrists. Some evidence suggests that women take longer to leave the abuse situation when they have been seeing psychologists. It would seem that psychological training focuses on individual pathology, couple dynamics and family dynamics, but it doesn’t adequately cover the dynamics of domestic abuse. What a great shame this is! What a terrible hole! If a mental health professional belittles or disregards your domestic abuse experience I encourage you to find a different therapist.

The Codependency Model

While some survivors report that learning about codependency helped them separate from the abuse, we believe the model of codependency can be dangerous. Why? Because it subtly (or not so subtly) blames the victim. The codependency model sees the victim as defective because it assumes or implies that she has an underlying need to surrender her autonomy. When counseling victims of domestic abuse, professionals who use the codependency model can make the error of  expecting an abused woman to readily detach from her partner. And they may not pay enough attention to the first priority in all domestic abuse: safety planning.

If a counsellor subtly blames you for staying in the abuse, complying with the abuse, failing to set boundaries, being ‘avoidant’, loosing yourself in the relationship, being dependent on the abuser, or ‘loving too much,’ that counselor will not be of much help.

Rather than labelling the victim as codependent, we believe it is far more helpful to elucidate and honour the victim’s responses to the abuse. Wherever there is oppression, the oppressed person resists the oppression. So rather than pathologizing victims by labelling them as codependent, we believe in honoring victims’ resistance.

You can find more articles on codependency at our FAQ page Are abuse victims codependent?

Other marks of an unhelpful counselor

Other unhelpful types of counselors are the kind who comes across so detached and objective that you feel they are critical of your emotions and your indignation about the injustices you have suffered. If they privately interpret your moral outrage as vengefulness, this may come across as subtle disapproval of you. A counselor will be of limited help if he or she cannot or will not support and empathise with your healthy indignation against evil.

Marks of a helpful counselor

A more helpful counselor will help you come out of the fog that the abuser has been pumping out at you from his fog-making machine — his lies, his manipulative tactics, his shifting of the blame onto you, etc. A good counselor will help you find your lost self, like the woman who swept her house carefully until she found her lost coin (Luke 15:8-10). He or she will give you validation by affirming the existence and worth of your ideas, opinions, perceptions, feelings, your styles of behaving, and your aspirations, hopes and dreams. And of course, if you have been brainwashed into believing the false thinking of the abuser and false teachings of churchianity, a good counselor will help you identify and reject the false stuff, and cling to the truth.

A good counselor will do more than just affirm “you have been in abusive relationship.” He or she will help you identify the techniques of abuse used by your abuser so you can see what’s been done to you and how you have responded and resisted. Here is what Alan Wade says about this process:

Talking about these responses and resistance restores dignity to the victim by calling attention to the prudence, imagination, strength, determination, compassion, and sense of justice evident in his/her actions and subjective experience. Previously overlooked acts—for example that of a child taking two hours to walk home from school to avoid being alone with an abusive parent—can acquire new meaning and significance. Accounts of resistance also contest the stereotypical image of passive, socially conditioned, and dysfunctional victim featured so prominently in clinical and public discourse.
—”Honouring our clients’ resistance to violence and oppression: Tom Strong talks to Alan Wade.”New Therapist 21

If you are really fortunate, a good counselor may be reasonably familiar with the procedures of the legal / police / compensation systems and be able to give you suggestions about when and where to take action in these areas. On the other hand, you may have to do this leg-work for yourself or get advice from a women’s domestic abuse support service.

Christian vs Secular

Many Christian victims feel they would prefer a Christian counselor. However, Christian counselors can be hard to find and many of them do not understand domestic abuse well. Under these circumstances it might be better to choose a non-Christian counselor who really understands domestic abuse.

If you can find a good Christian counselor who rightly uses and interprets scripture in their counseling practice you will be doubly blessed. On the other hand, you probably will be further traumatized by the kind of Christian counselor who is heavily influenced by the “Biblical Counseling” movement (see our tags Biblical Counseling and Nouthetic Counseling).

We also suggest you steer away from anyone who uses Peacemakers materials. The Peacemakers organization has no policy on domestic abuse and are clueless about how to properly deal with it.

The Role of Prayer

Sometimes counseling may be complemented by prayer ministry. It’s unwise to see prayer as a quick fix. Prayer can indeed sometimes bring a rapid change, but very often it doesn’t give a quick solution. The work of recovery from trauma—stitching a new, life-enhancing and beautiful garment after having been been systematically unpicked by an abuser—is generally an incremental process with back-stitches as well as forward stitches. (see the backstitch analogy).

Some of your responses may have been apt while living with the abuser but are now habits and patterns that are better off left behind. Some of your deeply held beliefs may have been false teachings that naive or foolish Christians taught you. Prayer can be helpful with things like that.

If you want another person to pray for you, I suggest you choose a wise person who will pray for you without coercively controlling you. In my experience, the formulaic ‘Prayer Ministries’ often don’t understand domestic abuse well enough, so I encourage you to keep your antenna up and if something doesn’t feel right to you, pull back…or redirect the praying person so that he or she addresses what you really feel needs to be addressed.

Questions to ask a counselor

When interviewing a counselor or therapist prior to entering counseling with them, here are some questions you can ask. You might also like to put these questions to a pastor to help you decide whether you want to become a regular attender at his church.

How do you view abuse in a marriage?
They’ll probably say firmly “It’s unacceptable,” but that means little. It certainly doesn’t guarantee they are a competent domestic abuse counsellor. Ask them “Could you please elaborate?”

How would you define or describe domestic abuse?
If they do not use key words like ‘power’ and ‘control’ then be wary. Also look for the key idea that it is a pattern of conduct designed by one party to control the other.  How many types of abuse do they mention?  How well do they cover the different types of abuse: emotional, verbal, social, financial, sexual, spiritual, and using the children as pawns of abuse? If they only mention physical violence, they are not competent to counsel for domestic abuse. If they only mention physical and verbal (or emotional) abuse, they are only partially competent.

Is it a communication problem? Is it simply a result of childhood trauma?
If they answer Yes to either of these questions, they are not competent to counsel for domestic abuse.

What do you think causes domestic abuse?
There should be a clear articulation that domestic abuse is solely caused by one spouse— the abuser— not by both spouses. If there is any hint of victim-blaming, ‘mutual responsibility’ or ‘it takes two to tango,’ steer clear of this counselor!

What are your thoughts on abusers reforming?
If the counselor fails to say that abusers are best treated in a group program rather than one-to-one counseling, that counselor isn’t sufficiently educated about domestic abuse. Look for humility in the counselor and recognition that treatment for abusers is often ineffective. For more on this, see our tag for Mens Behavior Change Groups and our FAQ page What if the abuser is repentant?

Often, victims don’t leave abusive relationships. Why do you think this is?
Look for insight into the dangers involved in leaving an abuser, the multiple ways abusers control victims, and some understanding of traumatic stress. Also, does the counselor know about the responses bystanders often make to victims— how bystanders pressure victims to reconcile with their abusers, how they fail to believe and fully support victims.

What do you think about couple counseling for domestic abuse?
If they say couple counseling is recommend, or worth trying for a while, they are not competent. If they say it’s only appropriate under very specific conditions they may be safe to work with. See our FAQ page What about couple counseling?

What are your thoughts on divorce for domestic abuse?
This question is optional. You may feel that it risks exposing you to a response that is too hurtful. You might want to leave it to last, and only ask it if you feel safe enough having heard their previous answers. You can always ask this in another session, if you feel safer then.

If you ask this question, look for a nuanced scriptural reply (should the person be a Christian) and for the counselor to explicitly say that a victim of domestic abuse is at liberty to divorce and that it’s not a sin to divorce on grounds of abuse. See our FAQ page What about divorce?

Another optional question: Could you please tell me about some cases of domestic abuse you’ve dealt with (without disclosing confidential details).

Look for how robustly the counselor responded to other cases. Did he or she strongly support the victim? Does the counselor seem aware of how abusers try to enlist the counselor as an ally?  Does the counselor believe she or he brought resolution to the situation by “reconciling the couple”? If so, did it sound like a superficial reconciliation, or one where deep and lasting reformation had been made by the abuser?

If your counselor takes the abuser’s side and tells you it’s your fault and you are the one that needs to do most of the changing to fix the relationship, then you can complain to the relevant professional board about the counselor’s professional misconduct.


Related post

Choosing and Assessing a Counselor

27 thoughts on “Finding a good counselor”

  1. Other unhelpful types of counselors are the kind who comes across so detached and objective that you feel they are critical of your emotions and your indignation about the injustices you have suffered. If they privately interpret your moral outrage as vengefulness, this may come across as subtle disapproval of you. A counselor will be of limited help if he or she cannot or will not support and empathise with your healthy indignation against evil.

    A counselor that tells you that you are sinfully looking for vengeance has absolutely no clue what they are talking about when responding to your 3 hour detailed layout of the abuser’s actions. What happened to my wife and daughter was [that they were] treated exactly in this manner. We had called the other party on their actions towards my wife / daughter and their response was to go to the Pastor telling him we won’t let him and his family come around us. We get dragged into a meeting to discuss this and after handing them a detailed account of how they had treated my daughter over the course of a year and my wife detailing what happened to her we were flat out told that we were sinners and needed to forgive them because “grace.” The Pastor then continued to tell us that we were in sin because we wanted vengeance, all we wanted was for them to acknowledge their actions and to actually stop.

    The Pastors then proceeded to Mathew 18 us into church discipline [and] because of it effectively made us out to be the bad party in their eyes because we would not drop the actions of the offenders simply because they were so “sorry and repentant” even though nothing had actually changed.

    You mentioned the Peacemaker model, it seems every SGM church uses this model to solve conflict which does nothing but blame the victim because you’re a sinner in need of God’s grace and what has been done to you is insignificant really, because of how much you’ve been forgiven by God so just forgive them and move on with your life and no you can’t change home groups to get away from them and no you can’t leave the church because you signed a membership covenant that says you’re under our authority.

    Really? Watch me and my family walk away from you, your church and your sorry excuse for “counseling” and live a happy fulfilling life full of God’s grace and mercy even though you made it a point to tell us God was going to remove His favor from us because we were in so much sin….

  2. My husband has expressed that he will go to counseling for himself. Do you have any resources to find a counselor who understands how to assess and counsel an abuser?

    1. Firstly, we want to emphasize that it is not the victim’s task to find a counselor for the abuser. Many victims (myself included) have been down that road and found it useless. If the victim takes on the task of finding a counselor for the abuser, that’s just spoon-feeding the abuser.

      If an abuser truly wants to get help, we would not recommend one-on-one counseling anyway, as that is likely to only feed his narcissism. We would recommend that the abuser applies to participate in a Men’s Behaviour Change Program (aka Batterer’s Program or Domestic Abuse Intervention Program). These are group programs for men who abuse their female partners.

      The abuser can Google phrases like Men’s Help Line / Men’s Behaviour Change Program / Batterer’s Program / Domestic Abuse Intervention Program and see what comes up. Some countries run a men’s hotline which can give men guidance and referrals to the agencies that are equipped to run those group programs.

      We have an FAQ page called I am an abuser, can you help me?

      And a tag for Men’s Behavior Change Groups.

  3. Barbara- This is excellent! I was counseled several times by incompetent counselors, most of whom were pastors. Finally one pastor recommended that I see a female Christian counselor instead. She understood abuse, and was the first person to help me see through the fog and break free from the abuse. I thank God for her!

  4. This post is probably quite helpful to victims of domestic abuse, but I’m curious about what you’d have to say to someone with my experiences.

    This isn’t the place to go into detail about what happened … but I’m the daughter of an abused pastor. Obviously he took the brunt of the abuse, but the experience was traumatizing for me as well, as people that I thought were my friends turned on me too.

    I am on the high-functioning end of the Autism Spectrum, and recently began the process of applying for help from my state to look for and get a job. When the vocational counselor I contacted found out what happened at our previous church, she asked if I’d considered counseling (not her kind of counseling, obviously) as a means of recovery. The thought had occurred to me, but I didn’t dwell on it much because I think I’m doing okay on my own–I have a strong faith in and love for the Lord and I have supportive friends and family. I’ve started attending a new church and the people there are kind as well, though I’m not comfortable yet talking with any of them much about what happened.

    All that said, I am wondering now if counseling would be helpful, because what we went through was terrible and I’m not sure if I am processing what happened and how it affected me as well as I could be. I have reason to suspect that I’m not, given that I know I still haven’t properly dealt with the way my mother ran out on us years ago. I know even “normal” people have a hard time working through and healing from some things; I think it’s even harder for people like me.

    But then, if I do get counseling, what kind should I seek? People in my current church and denomination do seem to be fans of the “biblical counseling” model, albeit to varying degrees (at least one woman I talked to still thinks that secular counseling has its place), but I am wary of that for reasons you can all probably guess. I’m in my early 20s and I’ve figured out that Christians in general don’t want to understand abuse, nor do they affirm the victim’s outrage and desire for justice, which is often misunderstood and misrepresented as desire for vengeance. (I know I’m preaching to the choir here!) I’ve been more or less told by a pastor — a man I have only a loose connection with via a mutual friend — to just move on. (Barbara–if this sounds familiar it’s because I e-mailed you about it a few months ago.) I really don’t want to hear that again, which is why I’m reluctant not only to go to a “biblical” counselor but also to go to any kind of Christian counselor. I wonder occasionally, after what I’ve experienced personally and what I’ve read here and on similar blogs, if secular counselors in general are better equipped to realize that recovery is a process, that anger is normal and justified, that desire for justice is normal and healthy, and that the victim shouldn’t just be urged to love and forgive and move on.

    Which brings me to my next question: if I seek secular instead of Christian counseling, how can I tell if the counselor I’m considering will affirm my faith and convictions? For instance, I suspect the circumstances surrounding my mother’s departure would come up somewhere along the way, and I’m concerned about what a secular counselor might say about that. I agree that the institution of marriage shouldn’t be unduly elevated to the point where people care more about it than the individuals involved, and I agree that abuse is grounds for divorce; but in my parents’ case, there was no adultery or abuse (save for the emotional abuse she inflicted on him), and my reading of the Bible tells me divorce is not justified in such cases. A person can’t just walk out because she’s not happy anymore or because she’s bored. Thing is, I suspect many a secular counselor would think personal happiness is a fine reason to terminate a marriage, and I don’t want a person who thinks like that to be the one to help me. I fear that kind of thinking might lead the counselor to suggest that my anger at my mother is ill-founded and that I need to try to have a normal relationship with her. (I’m convinced on the grounds of 1 Corinthians 5 that I’m actually obligated to keep some measure of distance.)

    I know this post is monstrously long, so thanks for reading the whole thing. I’m fairly new here as far as commenting goes, but I’ve read many a post and comment thread on this blog and know I can feel safe saying what’s on my mind, even if it takes up a little space. To sum up: what guidance can the ACFJ team — and other readers — offer for seeking out counseling to recover from church-inflicted spiritual / emotional abuse as opposed to domestic abuse? Am I right to be as wary of secular counselors as I am, or are my concerns a bit overblown? Lastly, is this even a big enough deal? Part of me still feels like I shouldn’t bother, that I can deal with it on my own, that after all my own experience isn’t nearly as bad as what so many others have gone through.

    Thanks again to anyone who took the time to read all this.

    1. Hi PuritanGirl, from what you’ve described, your mother did not have grounds to divorce your father. And it sounds like you are concerned about the possibility of a secular counselor viewing of your mother’s decision to divorce your father differently from the way you view it. But since you are aware of that concern, you could always mention your concern to a secular counselor right up front, in the first or second session, and see how the counselor responds. A good counselor will respect the spiritual views of his or her client and not try to change or criticise their client’s faith and worldview. A secular counselor will not be able to understand a Christian client’s faith “from the inside” so to speak, but he or she ought to respect their client’s faith because that is essential to the client.

      So I think you could consider trying to find a counselor who really understands domestic abuse and if that counselor happens not to be a Christian, it shouldn’t matter all that much. With your strong faith and your good understanding of doctrine, if a secular counselor says something that goes against the grain of Christianity you will be able to disagree with the counselor. And if the difference in worldview between you and a secular counselor becomes really problematic, well you can always decide to pull out at any point.

      I’ve seen quite a few counselors over the years. Some were secular; some were Christian. None were perfect-for-my every-need at the time, but most of those counseling experiences gave me something which I benefitted and grew from in the long term, even if only in becoming convinced that a particular counselor was missing the point and misreading my situation. With the help of God, I was able to use even the negative experiences to grow and to heal. If a counselor misread me and misjudged me, it could hurt or confuse me at the time, but in the end I mentally rejected that counselor’s wrong judgements and pushed on towards character growth and sanctification.

    2. I don’t think you are overblowing anything, so I don’t think you ‘shouldn’t bother’ to get counseling.

      I encourage you to not brush away your stuff by saying “others had it a lot worse than me” — that can be a lie from the devil. The devil would like our wounds to remain untreated because he knows that if our wounds get more healed we are likely to be better able to support others who’ve suffered injustice… and we’ll also be more likely to become activists in getting the church to wake up to these issues.

      The dynamics of abuse are quite similar whether it is spiritual abuse in a church or a cult, intimate partner abuse, child abuse, child abuse by proxy in the context of one parent abusing the other parent… whatever.

      1. Thank you, Barbara. I don’t mean to minimize what I’ve been through; it’s just that I don’t think it’s fair to equate my experience with those of some of the abused spouses whose stories are told on this blog. Partly because of what happened to my family, and partly because of my awareness of the abuse that goes on in Christian circles, I do want to help others who are similarly hurt. I know that the more healed I am from my own pain the better equipped I’ll be, but I wasn’t sure how useful counseling would be to that end. I take it from what you and the others here have said that it’d very likely prove of great benefit.

    3. I don’t know how much a secular counselor would be focusing on whether or not your mother had a right to leave, but you should know that you can always interview and fire your counselor if you don’t find them helpful.

    4. I agree with Barbara. It is not the role of counseling to debate theology and the “rightness” or “wrongness” of someone’s choice nor to change your doctrinal stance. The counselor’s own opinion on divorce is simply that. Their own. And they should keep it to themself. As is your opinion – it is your own. It is a very poor counselor who would try to convince every client that they should hold the same opinions. In fact, that would be coercive and a breach of fair practice — in short, it would be abusive; controlling.

      A good counselor will help you to reframe what happened to you and allow you to arrive at the truth. To see clearly and make new choices….on your own. They act more as an objective 3rd party – a sounding board. They are not a moral compass.

      A good counselor will allow you to sift through the thoughts, events and emotions of what has happened or is happening and clear away the debris so you can decide or prioritize what your next best step should be. And that is the whole point. A good counselor will allow YOU to choose the next best step. And affirm you in that choice — whatever it is. They may provide some elaboration — maybe give details or ideas in areas that are new to you (what boundaries look like, what safety means, what establishing a new relationship could look like, what going “no contact entails”) but you make the choice. And you decide how to put it into practice. They validate.

      A good counselor allows you to be in the driver seat. They listen. They affirm. They provide definition. They clear the path so you can see and make the connections that, perhaps otherwise are more difficult on your own.

      They don’t choose. They don’t coerce. They don’t judge.

      Much peace, wisdom and love to you.

      1. Charis, thank you very much for your description of what a counselor does. I think my own concept of what counseling entails was a bit off, so I appreciate your setting me straight. 🙂

        I’m fairly convinced counseling would be quite helpful to me at this point. Now I just have to get working so I can pay for it.

  5. It’s so sad to read about the lack of support women have had in leaving abusive relationships but I appreciate this wonderful website because I get to familiarize myself with different experiences of others.

    I heard a TED talk by a middle class white woman who nearly was killed at the hands of her ex-husband. When she explained why she stayed in the marriage of ongoing physical abuse as long as she did she said something profound which I could relate to. She said that she didn’t know she was being abused. And I also have found that when I was in my own abusive relationship that I also wasn’t able to see the full scope of the onslaught of daily abuse because I was in denial and because I had been groomed to accept very abusive treatment for the first twenty years of my life. So when the abuse escalated I hardly noticed it at all because I was accustomed to the cycle of intermittent kindness. I knew I was in an unhealthy dynamic but I didn’t understand that it was life threatening. And I really needed someone on the ball to wake me up and help me to see that my situation was very very serious. So if a counselor isn’t trained in this area then they can’t intervene with the right methods. People need real help in these situations. I didn’t get help because I was unable to articulate what had happened to me. So it continued to go on for many more years.

    But I eventually did break free. After I became Christian the Holy Spirit led me out. But I still had to peel myself out of the grips of some enormously powerful spiritual claws. And nobody untrained will ever fully understand that abusers really do want us dead.

    I also agree with what you wrote about codependency.

    1. Intermittent kindness…..That combined with the church’s view of victims and “the victim’s failure to be forgiving” coincides neatly with the cycle of abuse that so effortlessly entraps the abused. If you are already confused, and the people who are supposed to be helping you by supporting your God-given rights to be free of abuse, if those people are ignorant, judgemental, and only concerned about their own ideas of the covenant of marriage…..How far into the Fog does a person have to get without completely disappearing?
      (I am so sorry for my run on sentences.)

  6. I believe I am codependent, mainly because I can trace the issue back to very specific dynamics in childhood. These tendencies and characteristics led me to marry my abuser; they did not come about because of the marriage. But I remember with delight all the times I very passively but actively offered resistance to his abuse. I didn’t realize I was doing these things as self-preservation techniques or self-care, but I was definitely resisting.

    I would fly into bed, lights out and the model of peaceful sleep, when I heard him come home at night. That way I didn’t have to risk interacting with him. I would resist vigorously in my thoughts, while choosing to remain silent. Many a time, in the middle of the night, I would childishly, but oh-so-satisfyingly, extend my middle finger toward his sleeping body after having been subjected to cruelty and bullying. Perhaps that one was a tad TOO passive-aggressive, but it gave me a tiny spark of courage.

    The issue I had with the counselor we saw was that he insisted that me learning very strong boundaries was necessary if the marriage was to be saved. No mention of the abuse needing to stop. Thankfully some very supportive friends helped me to be able to resist that shaming and blaming, and to realize that if the abuse did not stop, there was no couple to save. I left couples counseling and left him to work on himself. Which he chose not to do.

    1. Your tiny “Spark of Courage” made me smile.
      Unfortunately I was so brainwashed by the church into thinking “Behind every good man is a good woman” that I lost my spark… But it’s okay..
      I am giving him the Bird right now.

  7. It seems that those at A Cry for Justice would not recommend Ken Sande’s Peacemakers, or what Jay Adams started originally as the Institute for Nouthetic Counseling–now called Association of Biblical Counselors– or its next generation “sister” called Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation. It seems that A Cry for Justice cannot recommend individual counseling for an abuser –like Chris Moles offers. I understand the pluses and minuses with these materials and i have read all of them–including the entire CCEF counseling series of booklets, which were published for laymen and not professionals. Please tell us what you can recommend.

    1. Hi Gothard Survivor, you are right about what we do not recommend.

      And because our ministry is not aimed at abusers, we do not have any more specific recommendations for abuser treatment than what I have already outlined in my reply to Broken Not Shattered above.

  8. When survivors choose a counselor they have the same choices of Christian organizations. Do you recommend any organization for them?

    1. UPDATE Sept 2021: I have come to believe that Jeff Crippen does not practise what he preaches. He vilely persecuted an abuse victim and spiritually abused many other people in the Tillamook congregation. Go here to read the evidence. Jeff has not gone to the people that he spiritually and emotionally abused. He has not apologised to them, let alone asked for their forgiveness.


      We don’t recommend any Christian Counseling organization in particular, because we simply don’t at this stage know of any which we know well enough to safely recommend them 100% of the time. Some of our readers have mentioned that they have personally had good counselling experiences with a Christian counselor, but we don’t have enough time or resources to try to compile a list of names of good counselors. Nor would we see that as ever part of our work. The only exception to that would be Catherine DeLoach Lewis who we interviewed on this blog (see here) because I was able to meet her and have quite an indepth conversation with her which confirmed that she really really GETS IT when it comes to domestic abuse. And Dr George Simon Jr, whose work we often recommend on this blog.

      If we were to try to compile a list of good counselors and made a mistake and listed a counselor as good when in fact they were not good, we could be liable to being sued. So we will never try to compile a list.

      Please remember that we only have three active team members on ACFJ at the moment — Jeff C, TWBTC and myself — and we are flat out doing what we do already!

  9. What would you advise in the situation where a psychologist listens to your story, raises himself up to his full height and says,” In my opinion it’s not abuse”. This happened to me some time ago. I didn’t feel I could do anything about it because he was really seeing one of my children, on referral . Incredibly this psychologist also ignored the reality that my ex had moved out and continued to treat the situation as a normal ongoing marriage. I’d have to say I was really angry, but I felt powerless to do anything about it.

    1. I’m still angry. The abuse that my children and I suffered over many years was horrific and has caused long term harm.When a professional suggests that I am not being truthful it feels as if they are wiping out my humanity, my worth and my right to exist on this earth.

      1. KayE, I have dealt with this type of person as well. Many times.
        I call them “Invalidators”..

        They want to undermine the validity of what happened to someone and minimize the negitive way it affected them.
        This is invalidation.

        It seems that the job of a counselor is to help their client identify what they are struggling with, and mirror this back in a more clear picture, that will likely reveal why that struggle is taking place.
        Not diminish it.

        But could it be that many of them are serving the side of evil to discourage the believer to continue their fight to get free and discover truth about what happened to them?

        This invalidation of truth to me is a red flag to identify an unsafe person.
        It is also a shame that so many of them are established in professional positions today.

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