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:

Swimming Through Fearful Waters

As we transition from summer into fall, my daughter and I realized that we had a similar "assignment." She has started a new school year and one of her first English assignments is to write about something she learned this summer. She then shared with me that she had planned to write about something that happened on our family vacation. I told her that it was my month to write something for the website, and I had thought about writing about the same experience. With her permission, I would like to share our experience with you.

If you read my piece last year, you know that I have height issues. My daughter has no trouble with heights, but she is very afraid of sharks. Given that we live in western North Carolina, this isn't a fear she has to contend with very often!

A few years ago, we snorkeled for the first time in Florida, and my daughter was very anxious. Once she got in the water and saw that there were no sharks, she relaxed and swam off. In fact, we had to hurry to keep up with her.

This year, we had another opportunity to go snorkeling on our family vacation. The guide hooked our boat to a mooring ball, and my son shouted, "Hey! It's a shark!" And sure enough, a six foot long nurse shark was swimming past the right side of the boat. My daughter was very concerned, but we reassured her, saying, "It's gone! It swam on by." And it had—it was nowhere in sight. Until a couple of minutes later, when it swam by on the left side of the boat! We reassured her again that it was gone. We put on our gear and got in the water.

One of the things I enjoy about snorkeling is the sound of the water lapping gently around me. I find it peaceful to float above the fish with the only sounds being the sound of the water and my own breathing. This time was different. I heard a noise that I couldn't identify—until I saw the shark swimming beneath us and realized my daughter was crying. I held her hand and the guide reassured her that the shark was used to people and would not harm us. She gripped my hand tightly, and we began to follow our guide. We continued to hold hands while we snorkeled. Her sobs subsided, and after a few minutes, I was aware that her grip wasn't as tight. We continued to hold hands and we kept swimming. After about 20 minutes, she let go of my hand. She never swam too far away from me, but she snorkeled on her own the rest of the time that we were in the water.

Later that evening, I found myself reflecting that—in a metaphorical way—this is what therapy is like sometimes. A person has a struggle or a fear or a loss or an issue that is too much to navigate on their own. There is something very powerful about having a companion on the journey. Having someone walk (or swim) alongside can help create a safe sanctuary for healing and growth. Having someone accompany us into the hard places can empower us to navigate our way onto healthier paths. And when we are ready, we move forward on our own.

Stacey Watkins-Griffith, D.Min.
Shelby Office, Central UMC

"Be the person you needed when you needed help."
~ Rain Cooper

"There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life."
~ John Lennon

"You only have one shot at this moment—don’t miss it."
~ Andrew Olendzki

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.