Summit Counseling Center Offers Help

Tuesday, January 14, 2014 - by Phil Wade

If you walk into Summit Counseling Center on Lee Highway, and tell them you are a loser, they may not contradict you.

“I had one guy come in and say right away, ‘You know, I’m a jerk,’” Center Director Jon Harris said. “I’m not going to minimize that and say, ‘Oh, you aren’t really a jerk. You’re okay.’ I don’t want to relieve someone of that, if that’s coming from a real place of repentance and brokenness. That place is actually going to lead to some good growth.

“The temptation in counseling, especially in secular counseling, is to focus on self-esteem. Historically, self-esteem hasn’t been our problem. Pride has been our problem.”

Located just off of Exit 1 on Hwy. 153, Summit Counseling Center, a ministry of Ridgedale Baptist Church, seeks to provide professional counseling on a variety of issues from conflict management, marriage and family issues, to trauma, anxiety, and abuse. The center’s six counselors are “trained professional listeners,” Mr. Harris said, “drawing out [our client’s] hearts like water from a deep well.”

“One of the things I try to help people with,” he explained, “is confronting false intimacy with true intimacy. Neither Chattanooga nor the church is free of that. The problem is that we tend to be secretive until somebody gets caught and it’s disclosed. By that time, there’s been a lot of damage.”

In today’s technologically-connected world, people can slouch into infidelity by ignoring healthy boundaries. “They become more open to flirtation, emotional intimacy, and sexual intimacy,” he said. “With social media, it can be invasive and if you don’t have good boundaries or healthy relationships, you’ll be more tempted to reach out to false intimacy.”

Two-thirds of Mr. Harris’ work is in relationship counseling. “A lot of our emotions are driven by expectations. I challenged one couple not long ago, saying, “I hear you’re not happy in your marriage, but I’m wondering if part of that is because your goal in marriage is to be happy. Would you be open to this idea that the Bible’s goal for marriage is based on a covenant? It’s the covenant that keeps your marriage together.”

He asked this couple to consider that God was concerned less with their happiness and more with their maturity. “Sticking with your spouse through this can help you continue to grow up,” he said. “This is a growth project.”

“I wanted to confront them with truth and love, and they accepted it. They felt relieved. It changed the anger and resentment and took a lot of pressure off. It was relieving to them to take off the burden our culture puts on us that we need to be happy.”

Mr. Harris sees Christian counseling as applied theology, an explanation of truth in practical terms. Every therapist has a bias, he said. A Christian therapist openly leans on the Bible. While listening to his clients, he interjects the truth at times, “because one of the disciplines,” he said, “is taking every thought captive to Christ.”

“I’ll tell people that the big three killer A’s are addictions, affairs, and abuse. They can quickly break that bond of trust, but they all can be restored. When people come in my office, I’m always going to instill hope. The way I frame it is that by God’s grace empowering your effort in the context of community, there’s hope for change.”

There are many Christian counseling offices in our city, and since Mr. Harris has worked with several of them, he feels comfortable referring people to other counselors with demonstrated expertise.

“People who come in are either struggling with selfishness or with self-righteousness,” he said. “The selfish person may be struggling with pornography, the self-righteous person is tempted to judge them, not realizing that they both need Jesus.

“One thing that keeps people stuck in recovery is misunderstanding the gospel and where they need the gospel in their situation. They need grace to obey and recover and react well when they are sinned against. I find in our culture a lot of religious conservatism which errs on a mindset of self-righteousness.”

With Summit and the many other counseling and relationship resources available in Chattanooga, no one struggling to overcome problems in their life needs to go it alone. Even if someone cannot afford regular visits with a licensed professional, they can ask for subsidized resources available.

Phil Wade is a local writer and native Chattanoogan. Find him on Twitter: @Brandywinebooks or LinkedIn. He blogs regularly at Brandywinebooks.net


Faith Community Wesleyan To Give Away Clothing & Hot Dogs April 8

Free clothing will be available at Faith Community Wesleyan Church on  April 8 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m .  Women's, Men's & Children's clothing will be available.  There will also be personal items such as toothpaste, toothbrushes, etc. free of charge. Free hot dogs and drinks will be served. The church is located on Shallowford Road beside Morning Pointe ... (click for more)

Eastdale Village Community UMC And Eastdale Nighborhood Association Offer Free Produce On Thursday

Eastdale Village Community UMC and the Eastdale Nighborhood Association will offer free produce to the public on Thursday.  The event will held at the church's parking lot, at 1403 Tunnel Boulevard, and will begin at 3:30, until all produce is gone. The church's fellowship hall will serve as the location if it rains. (click for more)

City Council Winner Anthony Byrd Told He Cannot Continue Working At The County And Be On City Post; Resigns At Criminal Court Clerk's Office

Anthony Byrd, who upset City Council Chairman Moses Freeman in the District 8 council race, has been told that under the city charter he cannot remain on his county job and hold the city post. Mr. Byrd has worked in the Criminal Court Clerk's office for the past 22 years. Criminal Court Clerk Vince Dean said Mr. Byrd got the news of the ruling on Tuesday. He said, "No one ... (click for more)

Judges Say Judge Bales Has Not Signed Letter To Governor On Medical Disability; They Can't Find Him

General Sessions Court Judge Gary Starnes said fellow Judge David Bales apparently has not yet signed a letter to the governor saying he plans to take medical disability. Judge Starnes said, "We can't reach him. He does not answer any of our calls or texts." He added, "We are concerned about his well-being." Judge Bales last Friday, after a sit-down meeting with the other ... (click for more)

Repeal Obamacare, Congressman Fleischmann - And Response

Chuck: I'm writing to express my strong opposition to the plan that is being rolled out by Paul Ryan to replace Obamacare. And as I'm writing this, I'm remembering all the times you and all of your Republican colleagues over the last six years campaigned on REPEALING  Obamacare and used that call to action as the basis for your reelection. And I'm also remembering the ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Will Perdue Abide His Oath?

Sonny Perdue, a licensed veterinarian who served as the governor of Georgia for eight years, is scheduled to appear for confirmation hearings  tomorrow  as the nation’s next Secretary of Agriculture. It has been nine weeks since he was named by President Donald Trump and horse advocates have been holding their breath for exactly that long. Will Sonny remain a devoted ... (click for more)