Marriage and Family Therapy as Ministry

One of the unique characteristics of Marriage and Family Therapy is its dedication to diagnosing and treating people’s problems in their relational contexts.  More traditional approaches in psychotherapy tend to focus their attention upon the individual’s problems and what he or she must do.

It is important to consider both aspects of a person’s problems and to discern how that problem functions in it’s relational context.  It is this aspect that of therapy that transcends marriages and families and touches every part of our existence, including how we relate to one another in the Lord’s church.

Sometimes, the challenges churches face are very similar to those that are being confronted by their own members within their own marriages and families.  From a systems perspective, if you help one aspect of the system, you have affected other parts of the system.  In other words, when you minister to the familys of a church’s the church benefits.  When you help churches help families you create this wonderful feedback loop around the cross of Christ that helps us all.

Mission, Vision, Purpose

Southshore Counseling, LLC is about helping people overcome obstacles, work through transitions in life and reach out for their potentialities. We work with all sizes of churches: helping them grow as healing communities for families who are hurting; helping them realize their mission, vision and purpose. There are two primary targets for Southshore Counseling, LLC: 1) hurting families in transition or difficulty and 2) churches that want to minister to them in a meaningful and productive way. Combined, these two interdependent services have the potential to strategically help churches do what they do best: share the love of Jesus Christ.

How We Help Churches Help Their People

Goals and Objectives

The preferred setting for Southshore Ministries is in churches in the metropolitan Detroit area. The leaders of these churches:

  • Wish to provide their members and community with a meaningful resource to help them in times of trouble
  • Feel overwhelmed by the unique, multi-dimensional struggles of families
  • Sense the need for more information about the resources that are available
  • Are challenged by the number of people in their churches that are struggling just to make it

The goal of Southshore Counseling, LLC is to provide brief, goal-directed counseling while extending care into churches so that the Christian community can gather around and help in a meaningful way.

Church Provisions

  1. A partnership with their leadership as families allow us to work together to lay out a plan for care and follow it through to completion;
  2. Gift-assessment tools to help their members discover their spiritual gifts;
  3. Training in listening and communication skills

Managed monitoring for those requiring extended services such as physicians, other mental health professionals, hospitals and institutions.
Working together Southshore Counseling, LLC is here to help churches maximize their potential as we all work together to help individuals grow in Christ.

A Ministry For Our Times

With layoffs, out-of-control debt, and home foreclosures, families are experiencing traumatic events that can stress even strong, healthy homes to the breaking point. The more fragile a family is, the more pressure comes to bear, the greater the need for churches to offer hope and help.

Having a professional at your church’s fingertips can be priceless: for church leaders, for the church itself, and for the hurting people who call that church home.

Workshops: Spiritual gifts, talents, passion

Genesis Groups

Recovery and Support Groups for grieving people. Groups may form around specific challenges such as death of a loved one, divorce or other necessary losses. They usually meet weekly at a mutually acceptable time and location over 8 to 12 weeks. These groups can meet in churches or other public locations to be most convenient to participants. Workshops are usually one-time events that address the human grief experience across a broad range of experiences.


The key to communication is the ability to listen with the desire to understand before being understood. This workshop is designed for leaders, marriages, parenting and other relationships. Especially in the area of conflict resolution the skills learned in this workshop can be especially helpful as they generalize to the workplace and other interpersonal relationships.

Discovering Your Gifts

Through the use of various personality assessment tools this workshop helps people find their own natural and spiritual gifts so that they can be about the works of service with the abilities God has gifted them with to build up the body of Christ. Discovering your gifts helps you learn more about yourself, more about those around you and how those with different gifts and work together to bring about the synergy that makes the whole of relationships greater than the sum of its people.

Before You Tie The Knot…

We spend so much on weddings! What might happen if a percentage of those funds were spent on the preparation for marriage? Granted, some may decide that they are not compatible; but, most will find that they have a head start for addressing the challenges and opportunities that always arise early in our married lives. Usually offered in the spring, this workshop offers a battery of personality tests and exercises that are fun and challenging as you prepare to spend your lives together.

With advanced notice various speakers take the time to address such issues as What the Bible Says, Controlling Your Finances, How to Protect Yourself and Your Home, Investing For Tomorrow Today, and many more. What a wonderful wedding gift to young couples from those who know what is ahead for them.

Member Involvement and Assimilation

Involving members in ministry is a powerful tool for assimilation of people into the body of Christ.  However, simply  involving people in ministry does not necessarily bring about the process of maturing or discipling.’  In the past I often oversimplified Paul’s observations in Ephesians 4 to mean matching up people’s talents with specific tasks or, as Paul terms it, “works of service” (Eph. 4:11-13).

To do this without an awareness of the context of the admonition within the book of Ephesians runs the risk of rendering a spiritual service into busy work.  Any given task may be a good thing to do and it may be something someone is gifted to do but that does not mean, automatically, that they are growing spiritually in the process of doing what they were gifted to do.  Context is everything.

In fact, when we consider the primary involvement passages of Romans 12:1-8, 1 Corinthians 12-13, Ephesians 4:1-16 and 1 Peter 4:7-11 they are set in a context that goes way beyond busywork as a path to spiritual maturity.  To the Roman community it was in a setting where Roman Jews were attempting to reconcile with their Gentile brothers and sisters who had filled the leadership vacuum when Claudius evicted the Jews from Rome.  In Corinth the tension was between classes in a stratified society populated by people from benefactors to slaves.

To the church in Ephesus Paul is writing within the context of understanding how we should behave after having been recipients of so great a gift as God has given to us through His Son, Jesus Christ.  To the church in Rome towards the end of the first century, Peter is challenging the Lord’s people to care for each other in times of intense persecution.

In other words, involvement in the body of Christ is more than simply taking on tasks for the sake of staying busy.  The task must be rooted in what the church is trying to do, the spiritually developmental task of the individual who is involved and the contribution the work of service makes to the body of Christ and the kingdom.

One of the most used tools today seems to be in the realm of small groups in churches and in the organic church movement.  Indeed, many of our people are looking for personal, human connections, intimacy, accountability and so much more.  But being a part of small groups just to be a part of a small group, once again, risks missing the point of the process of discipleship; i.e., hungering and thirsting for a righteousness that transforms us into the image of Christ.

This is not to diminish the value of gift assessments and small groups.  My intention is to stress the need for giving greater attention to the context in which those gifts and small groups make sense so that those points of involvement and assimilation into the body of Christ become more than glorified busywork.

Hoping To Move To The Next Level

Moving to the next level is one of those necessary realities of life.  For example, when our girls were young I told them to stop growing up because I liked them just the way they were. “Daddy,” they would say, “I can’t help it!”  Before long they were rolling their eyes when I would insist that they stop growing up.  By the time they were teenagers they would just ignore me.  I have to admit that I finally gave up.  It would seem that they were going to continue to grow up whether or not I approved of the process.

Who would ever take a job without hoping for advancement or looking forward to the next raise?  How could anyone envision laying the foundation for a house without any intention of moving to the next level by constructing walls, plumbing the bathrooms or wiring the lights?  Why would I insist on using a typewriter when I can use a computer?

Moving to the next level is just a part of the fabric of life.  In fact, anything in life that stays the same is probably either an inanimate object or dead.  Nonetheless, we often resist the forces of change, hoping to maintain.status quo for several reasons.  First, the quote “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” makes sense when things seem to be working. The problem is that it is not necessarily a logical extension that what works today will continue to work tomorrow.  Preventive or anticipatory perspectives that allow for the fact that things will change transforms the saying to “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” to “If it isn’t broken, fix it now!”
Second, visionary thinking allows a person or organization to strategically orchestrate change rather than to be orchestrated by it.    Holding fast to core values, why not choose to use them to guide the change process rather than to react to it?  The old saying “An ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure” make great sense from this perspective and is very wise.Churches often go through these crisis transitions in areas such as, for example, technology.  There is no doubt that our culture’s demand for technological innovation is insatiable.  To speak to the present generation a church is well-advised to seek out ways to adapt to these changes.  Yet, how many battles were fought over whether to go from the overhead projector to the video projection in churches across America?  In and of itself, technology is morally neutral, perfectly capable of being used for holy and righteous purposes or their opposite.  Churches can determine that a value they have is to maintain a measure of technological relevance in order to reach each transition that is occurring in our culture or they can choose to fight over each innovation in a serial fashion.

This reality plays out at so many levels.  You canot parent a teenager in the same way you parented them when they were in pre-school.  The needed changes can be anticipated, problems prevented and innovations introduces that will bring out the best based upon core values.  In churches, you cannot administrate a church of 2,000 in the same way you did when the church was 500.  The needed changes can be anticipated, problems prevented and innovations introduced that strengthen–as opposed to threatening–core values wisely chosen.