Life is hard enough in “normal” times. Many people reach out for counseling to address issues of anxiety, depression, and relational guidance. During this the “new normal” experience of the COVID-19 response, we have seen an uptick in counseling needs. Ironically, in-person counseling has taken a backseat to video counseling for many. As a biblical counselor, I am highly interested and responsible to offer a compassionate and competent counseling service.
I asked three of my counselees to share – in their own words – about the online video counseling they received. Their feedback was so encouraging that I just had to share it with those experiencing hard times and wondering if help is available.
Jane – Learning the Benefits of New Technology
“I’m not a techy person, so the thought of online counseling was an obstacle and challenge for me, yet Brandon made it easy.”
As an older widow who is passionate about evangelism, Jane represents many of us who had never heard of “Zooming” into a meeting before the pandemic detoured so many of our paths. Jane is an “at-risk” individual who has a desire to address some very real struggles in her personal and spiritual life. Is there a way for her to get help in this “new normal”?
Biblical Counseling Center has a super easy-to-use online video system that has been an intentional investment since 2019. The software is simple to use and highly secure. Eight weeks later Jane shares with a huge smile how the video counseling, rather than being an obstacle, has actually been a blessing:
“Being an extrovert, I like the person to person counseling yet there are some great advantages to the online counseling.”
She shares, “I now love it as I do not have to travel, and it gives me extra time to my day. I am not tempted to stop at a store on the way home, get distracted by meeting a friend, or come home to voicemails and emails to answer. With online counseling I am able to sit right down after the session and record my thoughts and notes from the session, thus cementing it in my mind.”
Convenience, personal safety, and effective time management are just a few of the benefits Jane has found with online video counseling. Having overcome the obstacles, Jane has the ability to focus on the counseling and now sees this situation as a blessing and not a curse, “This virus is just a pause and a time to sharpen my Sword, the Word of God, and mend my nets. I need to take this time to pause so I am ready for the next phase.”
Brian & Carla – Premarital Preparations
“I really appreciated this option because at first everyone was on edge about meeting in person due to COVID-19 and this offered a solution to still obtain biblical counseling before my marriage.”
Brian and Carla, a couple in their 20’s, were planning on getting married in May but will get married later this summer because of COVID-19. Above the normal wedding stress of booking a venue, dress shopping, and honeymoon planning was the complicated pandemic response. Stress can bring out the worst in people. Many engaged couples benefit from having robust pre-marriage conversations about conflict resolution, managing expectations, and celebrating their differences of opinion and personality.
“This came especially at a time during intense uncertainty; be it marriage, finances, jobs and our future in general”
One very clear benefit for Brian and Carla was revealed by the counseling office being a distance from both their homes. Under normal circumstances, they would each need to bring their vehicles to the office location for all three of us to meet. Brian said, “Being able to cut down on road time during the day was really a blessing, especially after work. I personally feel that utilizing this tool is a perfect fit for what is offered in counseling.”
“There was no difference in our relationship and interaction via video or in person. I felt the content was always flowing evenly throughout the call and we enjoyed this method very much.”
Brian and Carla were able to complete their pre-marital counseling. They grew closer together and were able to start some very positive habits before ever living together. They will be able to exercise their understanding, expectations, and celebration of one another even more on their special day.
Jake – Help with Addiction
“My addiction to porn had been continually destroying the trust in my marriage and devastating my wife.”
Jake is not alone. In his 20’s and involved in ministry, Jake has struggled for years with pornography. This secret sin has an alarming reach into the church and family, yet pornography use often goes unaddressed. Individual counseling can be a very useful tool in breaking down the shame and guilt of pornography addiction. Through working on biblical identity, emotional intelligence, self-control, and gratitude, Jake has found victory in a time where many are secretly struggling.
Jake describes the situation well, “We were only able to meet in person twice before COVID-19 came and halted the in-person meetings. Since then we have been continuing our counseling through video calls. Counseling has gone extremely well despite being separated physically. I have been able to find victory in my struggles. I don’t feel that video calls have in any way subtracted from my counseling experience.”
“Online video counseling has been extremely effective during this pandemic, and I am so thankful for the technology that makes it possible.”
Freedom from pornography gives freedom and confidence where there was once the bind of tight accountability and fear of being found out. Jake responded well to online video counseling and grasped the concepts quickly.
In his own words, Jake shares some of what has changed his life, “One thing that has been particularly helpful has been the practice of being a “protector” instead of a “predator” in my marriage. Choosing to serve, love, and honor my wife instead of tearing her down by watching porn in secret has been a crucial step in me finding victory over porn. Brandon directed me to the passage of Proverbs 31:10-31, but really all I needed was verse 10. ‘An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels’. Thinking about how excellent and precious my wife is has been extremely beneficial to my marriage. I no longer act in ways that make her suffer, but I actively seek to honor and serve her.”
“The results of our meetings have changed my life, my marriage, and my walk with God. There is finally hope for me in the battle where I hadn’t seen hope for 10 years.”
Jane, Brian and Carla, and Jake are just like you and I. They were caught off-guard by COVID-19 and the way it has affected nearly every aspect of life. However, in a time where they needed guidance and help, there was a responsible and effective tool to get the help they needed. I have been so encouraged as a counselor to see the effectiveness of online video counseling in this season of instability.