The Struggle is Real Conference: Equipping Believers to address mental health needs
Anchor of Hope ministers to believers – Israeli and non-Israeli alike – who deal with struggles that tend to be extremely difficult to talk about such as addiction, anger management, bereavement, codependency, and depression. They also address anxiety, conflict, and stress management; offer couple, family, and pre-marital counseling; and train local believers to counsel others. The ministry’s director, Dr. Katherine Snyder, and a group of believers had been praying since the 90s about starting such a ministry, as Israeli believers were having to travel abroad to receive Godly, Bible-based counseling; it became a reality in 2013. Read more about it here and here.
Earlier this year, alongside its ongoing activities of one-on-one sessions, weekly support group meetings, and staff training activities, Anchor of Hope co-hosted a two-day conference together with the AACC (American Association of Christian Counselors). The conference, called The Struggle Is Real: Ministering to Mental Health and Relational Needs in The Congregation, was held at the King of Kings facilities in Jerusalem. Dr. Gary Oliver presented a full-day workshop called “Using Emotional and Relational Intelligence Skills in Treating Anger, Anxiety, and Depression.” Some of the other sessions were:
- “Creating Couple Closeness Through Connected Communication and Constructive Conflict” (Dr. Jared Pingleton)
- “Trauma and the Brain: Finding Beauty from Ashes” (Dr. Suzanne Mikkelson)
- “A Biblical View of Suffering: Practical Ways to Help Hurting People” (Dr. David Mikkelson)
- “How to Minister to Women in Crisis” (Linda Pingleton, MA)
- “Crisis Intervention and Psychological First Aid” (Dr. Katherine Snyder)
Dr. Snyder writes, “The conference aimed to both bring to light and equip believers to minister to the very real mental health issues in their congregations. Although pastoral staff are often the first responders to a crisis, there are few resources available for meeting special needs such as chronic depression, addictive behaviors, domestic violence, and marital crisis – to name a few. The conference was a ground-breaking effort to encourage leaders to develop specialized ministries and for lay people to get involved.
“Over 70 believers attended from all over Israel. This was the first time that a counseling conference was offered with break-out sessions for the local Body and the response was overwhelmingly positive. There is a growing realization in leaders and lay people that we need to be more fully trained to meet the mental health needs in our congregations and hopefully this conference helped remove the stigma and shame that hurting people often feel when they reach out for help.”
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Violet moved to Israel in 2013. She lives in Haifa with her husband and their daughter.