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 14 locations in the western 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:

The Mind of the Body

As I sit down to write I become painfully aware that there is another voice in my head that clearly says, "I don't want to do this", and I can feel in my body the desire to get up and do just about anything else but write.

I am sure you all have experienced this also, a voice that does not come from the rational, well behaved and responsible self, but nevertheless very powerful and real.

Do you ever wonder who speaks?

Life is demanding and in order to properly respond and adapt to the ever-changing circumstances around us we have to be able to constantly be in touch with our surroundings. Our senses pick up information from outside, our brain processes it and gives us feedback on how to respond.

The mind likes to be reasonable, considering Fact A to Fact B and Fact C, taking in consideration all outcomes, and choose the overall best response to the problem. Like a mathematician the mind will process events at the level of pure information.

The same sensory input is also processed by the body. The body does not "think" the same way the mind "thinks". The body will respond with its instincts—a set of inbuilt automatic responses embedded genetically in our DNA like the fight or flight response in the face of danger. The heart will start racing, the muscle will become tense, and the breathing will be shallow but fast ready to respond to danger and escape.

The body also responds with its habits—already learned and well established behavior in the past, repeated so often that it has become automatic. The body loves habits, because they are already learned responses that do not require any more effort. Once it has learned to walk in a way, it will walk that way for the rest of life if possible. Changing habits can be very hard. Just try to change your route to work, brush your teeth with the left hand, do anything different than you are used to doing, and you will feel both how hard it is and how unhappy your body is to have to work so hard when it does not have to.

The body will also consult with past experiences to make up its mind about the present context. If the past experience is safe, it might just go alone with the rational mind on that one. But if there has been a painful memory tag associated with that particular event in the past, the body will insist it is still a dangerous situation even if the present circumstances have changed and danger has been removed from the situation. For example if you have a scary experience with a dog, your body will say that all dogs are bad and you have to stay away from them.

Daily we process an enormous amount of information from around us and both the mind and the body give us feedback in how to respond. If the mind talks to us through thoughts, words, ideas … how does the body talk to us?

Feelings are the language of the body. Anger, love, joy, fear, happiness are all ways in which the body lets us know about what it thinks. Feelings are the opinion of the body regarding a situation.

If I ask my mind what I should do, it tells me to sit down and write. If I ask my body, it tells me he does not like writing, and would like to do something more enjoyable like talking a walk with my dog, hanging out with a friend, clean the whole house (it really does not like writing!). Different voices, different opinions.

Which one to listen to?!

Listen to both. When you feel an uncomfortable feeling like anger or sadness donít try to shut it off, judge it, or put it down. Be aware of it. It is part of you; your genes, habits, past experiences are talking to you. If you don't listen when they talk nicely they will talk louder and louder, scream, throw tantrums until you will stop and listen, pay attention because your body matters.

When was the last time you listened to your feelings, when did you stop and ask your body … What do you think?

Learning to understand the language of feelings, the language of the body, is a gift you can give to yourself. It is the way you come to know who you are—your gifts, your limits, your strengths, your weaknesses. Only on this foundation can you build a self that is both authentic you and able to develop to its fullest potential for growth and happiness.

Adriana Serban, Psy.D.
Concord Office, Epworth UMC

"If your emotional abilities aren't in hand, if you don't have self-awareness, if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions, if you can't have empathy and have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far."
~ Danial Goleman, PhD

"I believe (and cannot find any science to disprove) that an important aspect of the mind can be defined as an embodied and relational, emergent self-organizing process that regulates the flow of energy and information both within us and between and among us. In short, the mind is an embodied and relational process that regulates the flow of energy and information."
~ Dan Siegel, MD

"For every minute you remain angry, you give up sixty seconds of peace of mind."
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Resources for Pastors

Sanctuary Counseling Group recognizes the unique needs and stressors of pastors working within the pastorate as well as the needs of the pastoral family. To this end we offer a number of resources specifically for clergy

Check out the Clergy Resources page, including educational and workshop opportunities, counseling and consultation, vocational assessment, and helpful readings. Feel free to contact an SCG therapist in your geographical area for further information. As persons trained in both theology and mental health counseling—and with a high standard of confidentiality—SCG therapists are in a unique position to serve the needs of parish clergy and their families.

Remember …

"Self-care is never a selfish act—it is simply
good stewardship of the only gift I have,
the gift I was put on earth to offer to others."
~Parker Palmer

Donating to Sanctuary Counseling Group

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.

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 Samaritan Institute.