Hope & Healing

Daily Reporter staff writer

GREENFIELD — Some challenges in life require more than mention as a prayer request.

For those, Kristina Graber hopes to help.

Graber is a counselor at Realife Counseling Center, a partnership between Realife Church and Wabash Friends Counseling Center.

In years past, Realife had offered counseling through a staff member’s wife who had training in that area. When that couple left, she suggested Wabash Friends.

“There’s just a great need. People need help, and our current staff is not formally trained or equipped to counsel people,” said Adam Detamore, lead pastor of Realife. “The beauty behind it for us is they’ve been in the counseling service for 25 years. We were able to set up as a satellite location at no cost to us.”

Greenfield is one of six cities with a satellite location to the main office in Wabash. Realife provides the space; Wabash Friends hires the counselors and handles billing, which follows a sliding scale based on income. It accepts Medicaid and most insurance plans.

Graber, a marriage and family therapist associate, sees cases ranging from anxiety to depression. She also counsels troubled couples looking to reconcile.

“I’m all about restoring relationships,” Graber said, such as spouses in marriages, children with their parents, “or even people restoring their relationship with God.”

Realife is part of a number of churches offering some form of counseling. Vineyard Community Church in Mt. Comfort and Brandywine Community Church each have a page on their websites devoted to counseling available. A 2011 study by Barna Research group found that one in 10 Americans believe churches should offer counseling, recovery and/or support services.

Offering support takes many forms. There appears to be a greater distinction in churches today between the role of pastor and counselor than in the past.

Detamore said some people need someone to pray with them, encourage them or share verses of encouragement from the Bible. And to meet those needs, he’s ready and willing. But he tries to be aware of when someone would benefit from the help that a trained counselor such as Graber would offer.

“We trying to identify the difference,” he said. “We are willing to be spiritual advisers. (But) what I tell people when it reaches that point (is) ‘I cannot help you with this specific issue.’”

Not everyone who enters Graber’s counseling room in the office building set back behind Realife Church comes to her by way of the church or even professes religious faith. Some clients are from other towns and prefer greater anonymity by coming here for counseling. Some respond to Graber’s listing in Psychology Today.

“For some people, it’s an affordable option” not linked to spirituality, she said. “I try to be respectful of where people are.”

Detamore said he agrees with that approach.

“We didn’t start the counseling center to try to convert people,” he said. “We started it to help people.

“We are here to serve them. It doesn’t matter who they are. … If they have a need, we want to be able to help meet it.”

For those who do express religious faith in their initial assessment, however, Graber considers it “a privilege to bring that” into the conversation.

“The Bible is really clear about our thinking and our thought processes,” she said. “We’re looking at, what are your maladaptive thoughts?”

Graber said what people believe and what struggles they face can affect each other; sometimes helping someone explore the former can help them make progress on the latter.

When faith is examined alongside the challenges that motivated a person to seek counseling, “I see the most healing and growth take place.”

Author photo
Anne Smith is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at annesmith@greenfieldreporter.com