My Lay Counseling experience began at the Bel Air Presbyterian Church in 1973. I had moved from New York to Los Angeles just when there was a downturn in the economy. I left a good job in New York City and could not find comparable employment in LA. I was lonely and depressed when someone invited me to try counseling at their church. Unlike well meaning friends, my counselor Thea did not give advice — and the counselor/client relationship was strictly confidential.
She was compassionate and listened carefully as I told her of my issues and explained how the choices I was planning to make were going to improve my life. In verbalizing my thoughts to this attentive listener, my options became clearer and I began making better choices. My confidence grew and before long I felt like I was moving in the right direction. Sometimes I would “Crash and Burn,” but even on those occasions I had someone on my side at all times. I learned a great deal from those counseling sessions and have enjoyed the benefit of counseling throughout my working life.
As my wife Rosemary and I approached retirement from our successful but stressful working lives, we decided that we wanted to give back for the blessings that we have received over our lives. In 2004 we moved to Pasadena and right after I became a member of All Saints – Pasadena I got an invitation to join the Lay Counseling Ministry. Rosemary was very supportive and I thought it would be the perfect way to share my blessings. After months of studying and classes our cohort graduated and we began our mission to assist clients to discover the size, shape and texture of their problems and to help them find their client centered solutions.
As you can imagine helping others to explore their feelings and discover solutions to their complex issues has been a powerful and rewarding experience for me as a Lay Counselor. In addition, I also enjoy the camaraderie of 17 other counselors as we meet twice a month to expand and develop our skills. Being in the presence of my fellow counselors who are committed to making God’s love tangible by helping others in this special way is profound. Sharing our insights, compassion and skills energizes our commitment and supports us in our work. As Lay Counselors we are also required to have ongoing training with our supervisors who are Licensed Mental Health Professionals.
Over the years we have helped many bring back joy and new meaning into their lives. Maybe you know someone who we have helped or possibly someone we could help with their problems large or small. It’s a honor and pleasure to do what we do and should there come a time when you are considering counseling I hope you’ll remember that we’re right here at All Saints ready to help.
For more information on the Lay Counseling Ministry, visit their page on the All Saints website.