Voices of hope and healing in troubled times
After careful consideration and in response to the recent state-wide government shutdown by PA Governor Tom Wolf, we at Sanctuary Christian Counseling, will be closing our office for two weeks, effective at 8:00 a.m. Tuesday, March 17th, 2020.
Our response is not one out of reactionary fear but rather to aid in the dramatic efforts to help delay the spread of the virus, as to not overwhelm our hospitals and health care workers. We care deeply about ALL of our clients.
This was a very difficult decision for us as your therapists to make. We strongly feel that this is in the best interest of all of our clients long-term, as we hope to be able to serve you for many weeks, months, and years to come.
We are also hoping to have our online therapy services available in a few short weeks to be able to meet your needs. Please check our website for more information regarding this as it becomes available. We will keep you informed.
You can also visit our FB page for regular communication and blog posts while we are closed. We will make an effort to write informed articles to guide you through this difficult time as best we can, giving you helpful information to combat the stress and anxiety we will all be facing. Despite our temporary absence, you are not alone.
Please remember we are not an emergency mental health or crisis center. If you find yourself in a mental health emergency or crisis situation, please call 911 or your county crisis center. Cumberland County- 866-350- HELP. Franklin County 1-866-918-2555 (24 hours). Please refer to our resource list on this website for a further list of local resources.
You might also be interested in our interactive community Facebook page, Sanctuary Christian Counseling and the Coronavirus Adventure, which is designed to foster hope, help and healing in these troubled times. We intend to make this a positive place to share, care and connect with each other as we navigate the new normal of our lives.
Love in the time of Covid-19
(with apologies to Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
This is one of the most challenging times I’ve ever lived through, and I’m … well, as my husband says, “mature” – much better than “old.”
[Sidenote: I’m incensed by the conversation that talks about “the elderly,” and then defines them as over 60. Good grief! Haven’t they heard that 60 is the new 40? ]
In any case, the challenges of this crisis are many, but one of the most significant, I think, is the forced intimacy in families and marriages – and this in a culture that is becoming increasing polarized and disconnected. Suddenly, we are forced to connect.
Never mind that this is a good thing. Never mind that there are aspects of this pandemic that will actually improve our society. Never mind that nine months from now we will experience a population boom like the one after World War II.
How do we survive it now?
So many aspects of our lives have changed, and done so in a flash. It’s hard to wrap your head around it all.
At Sanctuary Christian Counseling, we’ve been working hard on getting our online platform active – this has been in the planning stage for months, but necessity has pushed it from the backseat to the driver’s seat. We have most of the elements in place – in fact are training for it (virtually) this afternoon. We will be up and doing online therapy sometime next week. (So send us an email, and we’ll set you up!)
But in the meantime, we, like everyone around us, have to figure out how to live closer than we have in a long time, with those we love best.
How to get through the pandemic with your relationships not just intact, but improved?
Here are some suggestions from this licensed marriage and family therapist:
Have grace. Everyone is responding to the stress of today’s crisis in different ways. Don’t expect everyone will handle it like you do, whether you are freaking out or calm and collected, or somewhere in between. Especially with your family, be graceful and allow a free discussion of fears, thoughts and other feelings. Call a family meeting to see what you can do to support each other. Even if you are trying to socially distance yourself from everyone, the occasional hand on the shoulder or wink across the room can convey a world of support and love.
Find fun things to do. I’ve seen so many creative ways of coping as families and couples! My neighborhood did a “find the shamrock” hunt on St. Patrick’s Day. Many families posted a shamrock -- some lovingly homemade by the kids in the house, others more artfully created – in a window, and others counted them up (some even took pictures) as they walked or rode by. There are many, many other ideas for connecting that can be found on search engines like Pinterest and Google. Be creative. Now is a great time to try something new and be inventive.
Find interesting ways to connect. My good friend, with whom I was to have lunch today, just texted me and asked if we could have a virtual Facetime date. One of my partners here at Sanctuary and I have talked about having a cup of coffee together to discuss our new ventures. If your neighborhood doesn’t have a Facebook page or something of the same sort so that you can communicate with those around you safely, set one up.
Remember physical activity. As I look out my window, I see a myriad of people running, biking and walking around our neighborhood. Not only does this get those helpful endorphins flowing, it also changes our perspectives. Everything looks better when you’ve exercised, no matter how gently or vigorously. And the family can do it together – make it a game, if you have small ones, looking for a dogwood tree, say, or a specific kind of leaf, twig or sign.
Talk to your loved ones. Reminisce. Remember times you’ve been together and what you did. Look at photos, at albums or scrapbooks, whatever you have. If you have the means at home, put pictures or momentos into scrapbooks or photo albums. Talk about your family history.
Think about, and plan for the future. Looking forward is a panacea for scary times. One day this be over. Of course we don’t know what our world will look like then, but people are resilient and it will probably be very similar to what it was several weeks ago. Maybe even better in significant ways. Don’t be afraid to affirm life and plan ahead. Knowing there’s something to look forward to is always helpful when you go through difficulties.
Take care of yourself, and help your family take care of themselves, too. Keep to a routine. Exercise, eat and sleep as normally as you can. Monitor your mental health. If the news makes you crazy, stop listening. If you are going stir-crazy, take yourself into a different room of your home (if you can) or outside – someplace you rarely go, and do the things you normally do there – it will feel different. Urge everyone in your household to make sure everyone is okay.
This will end. We will survive, most of us. Someday this will be a series of anecdotes about what we did when … and we will remember it, either with reflection that there was a silver lining or that it was not our finest moment. The steps we take now will define our future memories.
Make them good ones.
If you are struggling, we will be online doing therapy by – and possibly before – Wednesday, April 1, and would love to talk to you.
Sanctuary Christian Counseling
[physical address doesn’t matter]
Good morning everyone,
It is a relatively quiet morning here. I am trying to embrace some new routines as I begin day # 2 of our shutdown. I spent the weekend, like many of you, preparing and stocking up and cooking! Normally, I would be preparing to head to the office this morning to begin my day seeing clients. It is unsettling knowing I am here and all of you are somewhere out there, but I am grateful we have created a space to connect with you each day, at least in some small ways. No, it isn’t therapy, but our hope is that it helps us all feel united in some way as we navigate the unknowns of COVID-19.
So, if any of you are wondering.... here is what I am doing (beyond the cooking and cleaning) that has been helpful as this settles in and starts to feel real. Creating and making art of many mediums has been my passion and outlet for basically my entire life. It helps keep me grounded and my mind calm in times of high stress. It is for sure my go to and I will be sharing some of my creations with you.
Today, I am sharing my daughter’s recent artwork, The Anchor of Emotions, this conveys the many emotions that we may all be feeling right now in these uncertain times. Give yourself permission to feel them. Be mindful of healthy ways of expressing them which can be difficult during times of high stress and fear, and know that you are not alone.
I am also going to share that moving forward, I will be limiting my time listening to the news to just once daily to stay informed. This can be challenging in times of crisis because we all want to be informed and not miss important happenings. Be mindful of the time and attention you are giving to the media at this time and how it is affecting your mental space. At Sanctuary, we recently launched Disconnect Recovery therapy to help our clients balance their screen time in ways that are not harmful to their personal relationships and their mental health. We recognize the great benefits technology provides, especially now amid the Coronavirus pandemic, however, be careful that it isn’t creating a barrier to spending quality time and interactions with your family. Take time for a board game or a take a walk or bike ride for some fresh air. Talk openly about how you are feeling each day with your kids. It is okay to admit you are struggling too. I hope day #2 finds you all well!
For so many things in life, perspective is all. That has not changed because some of us are affected by the latest Coronavirus difficulties.
Perspective -- we can't choose the decisions and directives of our local, state and national governments, but we CAN and SHOULD choose our own perspectives.
I choose to make my perspective positive. I choose to see this as an adventure.
Why? Well, the easiest and best answer is that it will make everything just a little bit better. Just a bit, but a bit might make a big difference.
It's easy to sit back and be negative. But we can define our time by the response we give, and we can choose ... that's a major factor in this page -- we can CHOOSE to be positive, to think of ourselves and our communities in new and fresh ways. To think of this whole thing as an adventure.
I invite you along. Come join us as we explore the hidden delights of difficult times. As we look at the blessings that can be disguised as difficulties. As we put a positive PERSPECTIVE on as much as we possibly can.
Be blessed, be safe and be well.
So ...why are we doing this?
When Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolfe decreed that all "nonessential" businesses close down for two weeks -- and despite our strong opinion that we are VERY essential -- we decided that, to be honorable to our community, our clients and our families we had to comply.
So we are temporarily shut down, but still on a mission to continue to help.
This is a new page, the "Coronavirus Adventure" page, and on this page, it is our intent to put encouragement, advice, help, commiseration ... whatever the Lord puts on our hearts to share during this very strange and difficult time of our lives.
We're going to share most of them on our Facebook Sanctuary Christian Counseling and the Coronavirus Adventure page, too, with hopes that you find help, healing and hope through our words, experiences and knowledge.
Be blessed, be safe and be well.
Ellen, Andrea and Chris
Sanctuary Christian Counseling
Contact our Shippensburg, PA office at 717-200-3158
Or you can contact one of our therapists directly at: