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

What's Making You Sick?

It is the flu season now, and it is a particularly bad one going around this year. Just when I thought I made it through the season without getting sick, I ended up sick in bed for four days last week with the flu. We all blame the virus of course, but there are some voices that claim that there might be more at play affecting who does and does not get sick, and that emotions, not only biology, might be playing a role in our body's ability to fight off a disease. These same voices claim that most illnesses can actually be traced to emotional patterns

For example, the telomere of a mother with a child suffering from a chronic illness can be up to ten years older than her chronological age. We can see physical affects of cargiving in other cases as well. When the flu shot is administered to those who take care of Alzheimer patients only 20 percent of them will develop an antibody to the virus, a stark difference to the 80 percent who would develop an antibody in the general population. The wounds of caregivers can also take longer to heal than those of non-caregivers.

It is clear that caregivers have a higher risk of getting sick, but just what emotional patterns involved with care-giving bring about this higher risk? The caregivers who tend to get sick are generally the people who cannot say no to the point that their body says no for them in the form of an illness. Rigid and compulsive identification with duty, role, and responsibility, rather than prioritizing the needs of the self is another major risk factor for all kinds of illness. The non-expression of healthy anger and the expression of unhealthy anger are also both on this list. Thoughts such as "I am responsible for how other people feel," "I should never disappoint anybody," "I should live up to other peoples' expectations of me," "Other people's needs are more important than mine," "I must never be angry"—they are all killers

Why do these thoughts have such a strong physical impact? Because in nature our emotional system is connected with three other big networks in our bodies: the nervous system, the hormonal system, and the gut.

Emotions send information to the nervous system which in turn will send information to all organs in the body through the electrical grid communication system that connects each organ to the brain. The emotional system also releases messenger chemicals in our bodies, such as adrenaline and cortisol in the flight and fight response, that can be ready by the receptors in all the cells of our body. There is a constant biochemiical crosstalk between these systems. And then there is the gut who is very much a sensory organ and an emotional organ. When the brain receives information from the environment it sends it to the gut for processing. The gut then amplifies it and talks to the brain about what is actually going on. There are more connections going from the gut to the grain than from the brain to the gut, so when we suppress our "gut feelings" we suppress understanding of reality.

In a phrase, emotions that are suppressed also suppress our nervous impulses, our hormones, and our immune system. No wonder we get sick. Just two months ago my daughter became very sick, and not knowing if she would make it through created an incredibly stressful and difficult situation. During all that time there was too much adrenaline pumped into the system for me to get sick. So when did I get sick? The moment that I perceived we might just catch a break. My body was reminding me of all the damange I caused while neglecting it for the months.

Are you sick? You might want to ask yourself these questions: What in your emotional patterns might influence your body to get sick? How can you live a more authentic life? Where do you need to say no?

For a follow-up study on this topic look up Dr. Gabor Mate presentations on youtube or read his book, When the Body Says No.

Adriana Serban, Psy.D.
Concord Office and High Point Office

"Take care of your body. It's the only place you have to live."
~Jim Rohn

"Every man is the builder of a temple called his body."
~Henry David Thoreau

"My relationship with my body has changed. I used to consider it as a servant who should obey, function, give pleasure. In sickness, you realize that you are not the boss.
It is the other way around."
~Federico Fellini


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.

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

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.


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.