Welcome to Sanctuary Counseling Group

Sanctuary (n): from the Latin sanctus or holy; 1) a sacred or holy place; 2) a place of refuge or safety, a haven; 3) shelter from danger, hardship, or threat.

Sanctuary Counseling Group—formerly known as Methodist Counseling and Consultation Services—has provided mental health counseling and pastoral counseling in the greater Charlotte area and in satellite offices in cities and towns around the western piedmont of North Carolina for over 50 years. Sanctuary Counseling Group currently has satellite offices in 15 locations in the western and central piedmont.

To learn more about us and the kinds of services we provide, or to find out how to make an appointment with a therapist in your geographical area, feel free to contact us. We would love to hear from you.

Staff Perspectives

Beyond Trauma Bonding

Do you have a problem child in your family? A troubled brother, sister or parent? A "blacksheep" perhaps? Someone whom everyone in the family experiences as difficult, confused or defiant? A loved one who is addicted to drugs or alcohol and who can't be reasoned with?

There is no perfect person or family. All of us struggle with particular issues at one time or another, some of us worse than others of us. Every family has its own forms of dysfunction, ranging from mild to severe. When problems within individuals and families become more severe, however, we often see a dysfunctional relationship pattern develop called "trauma bonding." When family members become anxious and concerned about the well-being of a sick, dysfunctional or troubled member of the family whom we can call the "identified patient," family members tend to bond with each other exclusively around their fear, anxiety, felt need to protect, rescue, bail out, save the "identified patient."

Sound familiar?

Imagine family members chatting by phone or visiting with each other when they are all consumed with fear and anxiety about their addicted loved one disappearing again. They may be wondering if they have overdosed again. They may be asking themselves and each other whether their brother, sister, child, parent has overdosed again. Their sense of dread and helplessness can suck all of the oxygen out of the room and make it feel nearly impossible to focus upon or talk about anything else but their addicted loved one and how they can find a way to help them for at least one more day. This can go on for years or even decades in some families. Family members can forget how to focus upon each other, to take an interest in each other, to simply talk to each other, to nurture their relationship and love for each other. Family members have become "trauma bonded." Long gone are the days of asking each other, "How are you? What have you been up to lately? How are you feeling? I heard you got a promotion." Now it is only, "How is Jimmy? Have you heard from Jimmy? What has Jimmy done now? Are you going to bail Jimmy out again? When is Jimmy's court date? Has Jimmy agreed to go back into the hospital yet?" Jimmy has become the exclusive family obsession. No one in the family talks to anyone else in the family about anything or anyone but Jimmy. This can be exhausting, and serves no one in the family well, not even Jimmy.

In healthy and functional families, every member of the family has a direct, personal, loving relationship with every other member of the family, such that every family member has a chance to feel special to every other family member. In dysfunctional families wherein the members of the family are "trauma bonded," the only family member who is treated as special is the "identified patient." Everyone else feels lost, lonely, alone, exhausted, burned out, in need of authentic emotional connection, support and love that helps to rejuvenate and replenish them again. In this way, every family member is better equipped to deal constructively with the "identified patient" as well, to transition from "enabling" that troubled loved one to self-destruct, to practicing a "tough love" which allows them to experience the consequences of their destructive behaviors such that they can learn from them and come to reach out for help.

This is one of the facets of the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32). While the younger son was running wild and messing up his life, his older brother and father who were at home waiting for the next shoe to drop, very much needed a relationship with each other that wasn't focused exclusively on how messed up the younger brother was. They needed their own relationship with each other. They needed to be a family. If the younger son ever did decide to return home, he needed a family to come home to.

Todd Matson, D.Min.

New Executive Director

With the departure of our long time Executive Director, John Arey, we would like to introduce you to Sanctuary Counseling Group's new Executive Director, Jay Cobb.

Jay is a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. While he has been transitioning into his new role since July 15, 2019, he will assume the responsibilities of the position on September 1, 2019. Jay brings with him an extensive executive skill set and experience base from his 34-year career in the insurance industry. Over the years he has worked in large and small organizations to lead them in reaching their respective goals in productivity, efficiency, and growth. His success is attributed to his ability to recognize opportunities and create strategic plans that optimize the strengths of the organization.

Jay enjoys coaching and mentoring people of all ages so that they can achieve their career goals. This will be essential as he works to take SCG into the future. After yet another corporate rift and 23 years in corporate America, Jay decided to consider doing something different for the end of his career. This ultimately resulted in a series of life changing events that lead to him attending graduate school while his kids were getting ready for and attending college themselves. He attended Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary and obtained a Master of Arts in Christian Counseling in 2015.

Jay joined the team at Sanctuary Counseling Group in 2016 where he began seeing clients in the evenings. He loves assisting clients navigate the trials of life. Jay says, "I walk with people where ever they are and with whatever they are facing." He works with clients on numerous issues including grief, anxiety, depression, addiction recovery, relationship issues, career counseling, and anything thing that keeps them from being all they want to be. Jay notes, "I consider it a privilege to work with you right where you are today; no judgment, no shame."

It is an exciting time to be taking the helm of SCG. Jay has been working with our staff and Board of Directors to begin casting a vision for the future of the organization. His experience will serve him well as he combines his corporate experiences with his clinical experience. He has already begun to make inquiries about possible procedural changes to improve efficiencies, working on finding a new telephone system, checking out new computers for the staff, and meeting people from all over that make SCG successful.

Jay and his wife of 30 years, Heather, are proud graduates of the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill where they met in a class on the ancient history of China and Japan. They have a daughter who is married and lives in the DC area. Their two sons are currently back home working and with plans to finish college. He loves being on the lake or in the mountains, especially with his family. His family also enjoys traveling and most recently they enjoyed the emerald isle of Ireland together. For the past couple of years his favorite passtime has been digging holes for whatever new tree or shrub he brings home. Heather is very patient.

Please join us in welcoming Jay into his new role.

"Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end."

"And let the winds of the heavens dance between you."
~Kahlil Gibran

Find a Therapist in Your Area

Sanctuary Counseling Group provides pastoral counseling and mental health counseling throughout the piedmont of North Carolina, from Shelby in the west to High Point in the east, from Pineville in the south to Hickory in the north … and in multiple locations in between—Charlotte, Monroe, Concord, Belmont, Davidson, Pineville, Salisbury, and Gastonia.

Find a therapist in your geographical area by checking our sites page.

Donating to Sanctuary Counseling Group

Sanctuary Counseling Group is a 501.C.3 non-profit. While much of our budget is sustained by client fees, there are also a number of individuals, churches, and organizations that join with us in our ministry.

Please consider making a tax deductible donation to the ministry of Sanctuary Counseling Group. Unless otherwise designated, donations will be used to help supplement the Samaritan Client Assistance Fund, helping to supplement fees for those who might not otherwise be able to afford counseling.

Our Samaritan Client Assistance Fund is what makes Sanctuary Counseling Group a ministry and not just a business. By donating to Sanctuary Counseling Group's Samaritan Client Assistance Fund you can directly help those who are hurting. Our goal is to turn no one away because of lack of finances.

Please visit our Partners in Ministry page for more information or to make a contribution.

Updated, 30 September 2019

Mission Statement

Being dedicated to the healing of heart, mind, and soul, we provide excellent emotional, spiritual, and relational health care to all people of the Carolinas.

Sanctuary Counseling Group is an accredited service center of the American Association of Pastoral Counselors and the Solihten Institute.