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Therapeutic Philosophy and Style
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Open Heart Christian Counseling is committed to delivering the best services possible to ensure the client's optimum recovery from issues that plague their lives. My primary philosophy is that the Word of God is the best mental health book on the face of the planet, and all therapy is filtered through that standard before used in my office.

Having said that, I do not view the Bible as a weapon to throw at people to get them to "straighten up." I believe God is a loving God, and as Jesus told Peter to put away his sword in the garden of Gethsemane, neither would He want us using his "double-edged sword" to cut people up. The Bible, as is the case with all therapeutic interventions, is offered in love, with respect, and with the ultimate goal of blessing and glorifying God, and effecting life-changes in the client.


THERAPEUTIC STYLE: My therapeutic style is centered around the theoretical style called the "cognitive-behavioral" approach to therapy. I believe it is highly Biblical, in that it essentially says "If you change the way you think, you'll change the way you feel, and thereby change the way you react." God told Cain, "If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up?" (Genesis 4:7) Biblically-based cognitive-behavioral therapy focuses on how God wants you to think and on seeing things as He does. Then, little by little, the client learns to trust that by doing things God's way, their lives improve, and they feel better as a result.

The enemy says "If you feel better, you'll do better." God says, "Nope - it's the other way around."

IN-SESSION: Initially, the client will do most of the talking so I can gain an understanding of what brought them into therapy. After this initial get-to-know-each-other phase, which typically lasts a couple of sessions, I will become more involved and the therapy will be more interactive. Typically, my clients talk about 60% of the time, and I talk about 40%. Depending on the needs of the client, sometimes I will ask questions, explore, or teach, and other times I will just listen, connect, and "be." I tend not to give advice because I believe that God and the client are the experts in the client's life. Instead, I explore and reflect with the client what has worked and what hasn't worked in their lives, and we refer to Scripture to see what guidance we can gleen from God on the issue. The Holy Spirit and the client are the judges of what the Scripture means to them and their lives. I may suggest possible ways of dealing with situations, and then the client can decide what they wish to try. We will then analyze the outcome together to determine if adjustments need to be made in the future.

In essense, I work for God, and I work for the client. I see us as a 3-way partnership, with the Holy Spirit in the lead, where we are a collective analysis team to figure this out together.

2. BIBLICAL INFLUENCE: I believe the Word of God is an infallable, inerrant love letter sent to us by a loving father who wants only the best for us. In that, I believe that all of the answers to life's difficult-or-otherwise questions are there, and I rely on it for those answers. One of my therapeutic interventions is to teach my clients how to find their own answers, see what's there, and learn to rely on the Holy Spirit for understanding how God wants to apply it to their lives.
INTEGRITY: I approach my work with clients with a full awareness that there are three of us in the room. I understand that God is watching His sheep, and my goal is to honor Him in all of my dealings with my clients. I will never mislead a client about their therapy, the prognosis of recovery, or the fees associated with our work together. I will never allow a client to remain in therapy longer than we both believe is necessary for their recovery. As God has granted me the privilege of serving Him and His saints in this way, it is my ever-present goal to honor that gift through my integrity with my clients.
4. COMPETENCE: Much changes over time regarding research and the efficacy of different therapeutic interventions. A competent therapist will remain vigilant in staying up-to-date on the new research. I commit to staying up to date through seminars, reading, networking with other therapists, and other training as it becomes available. I also commit to listening to my client's perspectives on ways they can be more effectively served, and apply those lessons to all of my clients. More importantly, I am committed to continuing my education into how God's Word is used in a practical life-application way through independent studies, consultation with pastors, a variety of sermons and lessons, and relying on the Holy Spirit through prayer. I am committed to staying competent in my field to best serve God's people.
5. OBJECTIVITY: I pledge to remain objective concerning my client's case. I will never allow my own personal position, relationships, or possibility for gain to influence how therapy progresses. If it becomes clear that the therapeutic relationship is not working, or that the client is making unacceptable progress, I will be honest and straighforward, and if we both feel it would be in the best interest of the client, I will graciously refer the client to a competent therapist who may be able to help them more than I could. It is my belief that if a therapist-client relationship is not working, it is not because either of them is at fault. Some relationships are not meant to be, and there is nothing to be taken personally on either side.
6. RELATIONSHIPS: I am committed to open, honest and respectful relationships in all of my work. Research is clear that it is the therapist-client relationship that effects real change, and it is my commitment to ensure that I do all I can to create a safe and secure environment for a real relationship to form, and that that relationship be the foundation for the work that is done between us. It is my goal that the client be helped, and I am dedicated to that goal. The therapeutic relationship we form, with Jesus at the center, is the foundation for all change.
7. CONFIDENTIALITY: To the extent allowable and required by law, all dealings with my clients will remain confidential, meaning, no one will know any of the details of our conversations, and in fact, unless I have written permission from you, no one can even know you're in therapy. Please see my 'download' section for a copy of the contract I ask my clients to sign. In it you will find the detailed confidentiality requirements.

PROFESSIONALISM: The client-therapist relationship requires that a professional and objective posture be kept between my clients and myself. Although it is often tempting to allow the relationship to develop into a 'friendship,' this is not in the client's best interest. Friendships require a different dynamic than therapy, and it would be unfair to the client to allow the therapeutic relationship to suffer by allowing a friendship to develop. This professional posture is called a "boundary," and it is modelled in therapy to allow the client to learn it in their own life.

Open Heart Christian Counseling
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Open Heart Christian Counseling
Sue H. McHenry, LCSW-C
Williamsburg, VA 23185
(Please leave a message, professional confidentiality/privacy rules apply)

*Family members of clients - Due to legal restrictions, I cannot return
your calls or e-mails without the client's written permission. Also, to maintain the
trust of my client, I will have to tell them you have contacted me.


Note: There are occasions when an e-mail may get lost in cyberspace. I answer all e-mails, so please, if you don't hear from me within 24 hours, my apologies, and e-mail me again. Persistence will get you through.

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Last updated April 15, 2020
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