Sponsored by First United Methodist Church of Milledgeville, Milledgeville Christian Counseling Center first opened in 2013.
Betty Williams and Amanda Wilson Harper are both licensed therapists who can handle a variety of different needs.
“The board of the First United Methodist Church wanted to do something they thought was helpful to members and the community,” said Betty Williams, the center’s director and a therapist. “Both of us are licensed for the state of Georgia, so we can provide counseling and education as well and spiritual care.”
Williams has been a counselor for 22 years, including her pre-license experience working with adolescent girls in a Christian center. Harper has been a therapist for five years, and she and her husband are co-pastors of a local church.
Williams said she specializes in adult anxiety and depression disorder, and she is able to see individuals, couples and families.
Harper works closely with children, adolescents and families, and she is able to see individuals and couples as well. She has a history in helping people dealing with grief and trauma.
Williams stressed that although a Christian counseling facility, religion is not going to be forced on anyone who needs therapy.
“What we try to do is say that we want you to have the opportunity to talk about spirituality,” Williams said. “We don’t force our perspective or world view on anyone. We practice as licensed professionals as we were taught, but we give people a choice. As part of their assessment, they can tell us whether they want spirituality as part of their process.”
A person dealing with a situation who decides he or she needs counseling is welcome to call the center. Over the phone, the counselors ask several questions in order to find out exactly what he patient may need. From there, either an appointment can be made with one of the counselors at Milledgeville Christian Counseling Center, or the person can be referred to a different counselor that may be better equipped to handle the patient’s issue.
Although under First United Methodist Church’s board, the center charges a session-based fee that is paid for by the client. The church does have a fund for people who have a financial need, however. A patient can state he or she has a need, and the patient will be given an application that will determine whether he is eligible for a scholarship.
Milledgeville Christian Counseling Center wants to be a resource for both the community as well as doctors, pastors and private therapists within the community.
“A pastor who feels like he or she has reached the end of his pastoral expertise, we are there for people to call for referrals,” Harper said. “We can also refer them to a different therapist who is equipped to handle that situation if we can’t.”
People often speak with their pastors when they are in a situation they can’t handle. Some pastors have the therapy training required to help while others do not. Even pastors who do have training can feel that they may be outside an area he or she has had to deal with before and feel as if he is not equipped to offer correct guidance.
Milledgeville Christian Counseling Center has therapists who are able to offer guidance, both for the pastor struggling with helping an individual as well as the individual who has spoken with the pastor.
Both Harper and Williams earned degrees specializing in therapy, and both also have master of divinity degrees to help those who may be in a spiritual crisis as well.
Williams said that in her experience, people come to counseling in one of three ways.
“The number one issue is anxiety or depression. Number two is someone looking for help with their children or adolescents, and number three is couples issues,” Williams said.
During the first assessment, if Harper or Williams decides she is the best person to handle the therapy, the counselor will work with the patient to work out the goals for the therapy session and come up with a treatment plan.
Currently, Milledgeville Christian Counseling Center does have a grief support group. The group is held in a 10-week cycle, and although one is already in the middle of the cycle, another group will start in the fall.
Harper and Williams also plan to hold other group therapy sessions as needed by the community, and they urge community members to call to tell them what he or she needs.
Harper said she is looking to start holding women’s retreats, and Williams said they are both interested in holding other workshops as needed.
“We have a great ministry partner in First United Methodist Church,” Harper said. “But we want to get the word out that this is for the whole community. People don’t have to drive to Macon for therapy. We want to provide services the community tells us it needs, whether it’s a divorce group or an adolescent group. The reason we have a grief group is because there was a need in the church.”
For more information on group therapies or to set up an appointment, call the center at 478-456-6219, email email@example.com or visit www.milledgevillechristiancounseling.org. The center is located at 366 Log Cabin Road inside First United Methodist Church, and office hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. As no receptionist is on duty, people are encouraged to call first to set up an appointment.