Featured Articles

15 Books Recommended by Agape Counselors

In lieu of our typical Featured Article, this month we polled our counselors and comprised a list of books that our counselors recommend. Of course there are many many books out there that our counselors recommend to clients regularly and we could never cover them all in one post, so there will be more to follow next month. Below are the first 15 books on the list. To find them on Amazon, click on the pictures.


Where is god when it hurts bookWhere Is God When It Hurts?

by Phillip Yancey

This is a wonderful book…

Do Your Relationships Measure Up As Healthy or Toxic?

By JuJuane Easter-Hutchins, MA, LPC

Have you ever found yourself wondering if a friend, familial, romantic and/or business relationship is one that is healthy for you?  Are you involved in a relationship that leaves you feeling drained and overwhelmed?  Is your relationship toxic? And if so, how would you know?

The Bible has been referred to as Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.  This God-inspired book provides us with the knowledge needed to live a life pleasing…

Surfing the Urge: Implementing Skills for Emotion Regulation

By Amanda Stutz, MA, LPC

Surf The Urge Beach

To stand in the sea, immersed in the water, at the mercy of the powerful surf, is awe-inspiring and incredibly humbling. To be surrounded by the vastness of the ocean and see the power of the waves can cause one to pause. To splash about near the beach, being playful, and experiencing the water can be fun and exhilarating, but may leave one wanting to experience more. It may leave you with a desire to swim out further, explore the depths of the ocean and have a different…

What is Sandtray Therapy?


Sandtray TherapySandtray therapy was created by Margaret Lowenfeld, who got her ideas from reading H.G. Wells’ book Floor Games, where Wells spoke of the use of miniature toys while he played with his sons on the floor. This technique was adopted by many others, including Dora Kalff, a Swedish therapist who modified Lowenfeld’s knowledge of the use of sand and miniatures according to Jungian principles, and named her technique Sandplay (Homeyer & Sweeney, 2011). Sandtray…

Does Your Marriage Need A Tune-Up?

By Sue Ginocchio, MA, PLPC

Have you ever bought a new car? Did you love the new car smell? Did you follow the owner’s manual for oil changes and regular maintenance? Did you use premium gas? When the car got older, did you take care of it the same way as you did when you first got it? Or did you neglect it, or not take care of it in the same way you had in the beginning? Maybe you should treat your marriage like you would a new car.

Unfortunately, many people don’t treat their most…

Adolescent Girls: The Transition from Childhood to Adulthood

By Megan Jung, MA, LPC

*note: this article has been edited for readability, for the original, scholarly article, click here: Jung Aug 2015 Original Article – Adolescent Girls

“Olivia, get the lead out of your pants and get a purpose,” Granny often barked at her sixteen year-old granddaughter. My friend and I laughed about her grandmother’s nerve and willingness to say what many others would not. Adolescent girls are dramatic and numb, tragic and over-simplifiers,…

Sensory Processing Disorder in Children

By Teresa Weeke, MA, PLPC

*note: this article has been edited for readability, for the original, scholarly article, click here: Weeke Aug 2015 Original Article – Sensory Processing Disorder in Children

What is it?

Those who have Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), formerly known as Sensory Integration Dysfunction, experience sensory integration problems such that the input the brain receives from the senses does not match up with an appropriate response. Examples…

Who Am I, Really?

By Ryan Sosman, MA, LPC

You may have found yourself asking the question, “What is my purpose on Earth?” Although this is a very common question that everyone has asked themselves at some point in their life, it’s one that cannot be answered before we first learn who we are.  So, why do we need to know who we are? Hosea 4:6 says it best by stating, “My people perish from a lack of understanding”. In other words, we must gain insight into how God has made each of us and use that…

Renew Your Mind: It’s All About Perception

By Donna R. King, MA, LPC

We are all wired differently in terms of how we perceive things.  However, it is true for all of us that the way we think about things, or our perception of things, has a direct correlation to how we feel about things, whether positively or negatively.  The Bible even emphasizes that our thoughts have a direct impact on who we are!  For as we think in our hearts, so shall we be (Proverbs 23:7).  Consequently, if we go through life always thinking negatively…

When A Loved One’s Desperation Turns To Thoughts of Suicide

by Kristy Cobillas, MEd, PLPC

Recent statistics reflect the sad truth of the desperation many swim in today; on a daily basis, 105 suicides are completed in the United States and for every completion, approximately 25 attempts are made.

Thanatos is a word taken from a figure in Greek mythology, and coined by Freud to describe a death or destructive impulse. This impulse often surfaces and beckons the grieving and disgraced, the desperate and the pained. The desire to end ongoing…

Ch Ch Ch Changes

by Darrell Provinse, MA, LPC, NCC, Director and CEO

Change is inevitable. Life demands change. To not change is to be static, to be static is to be stagnant, and to stagnate is death. Life, by definition, is dynamic and requires that we adapt and grow. To adapt, is to fail in order to thrive. This does not mean that change is easy, or even that it is welcome. Most, if not all, of us have a drive for comfort, and change frequently pushes us out of our comfort zone. As the song says, “Every…

Loving Young Adults Through Transition

By Elizabeth Nimmo, MA, LPC

The days are getting longer. I’ve opened my windows and planted flowers and herbs. My neighborhood is active with families and children enjoying the spring air and I have already heard the bell for the ice cream truck. Spring is upon us and summer is right around the corner. It’s a beautiful and exciting season in the Midwest! While this season marks the beginning of many wonderful activities and events, it also marks the beginning of transition…

Using Our Power to Facilitate Change

By JuJuane Easter-Hutchins, MA, LPC

Lately, I have found myself struggling with the mayhem occurring in our world and in our communities.  I am disheartened by the racial, socioeconomic, and other divides that exist; I am dismayed by the inequality that plagues our society.  Where have things gone wrong?  How can people feel justified in wrong doings against one another?  Why are hearts not convicted of wrongdoing?  Would such madness occur if individuals knew…

Care for Caregivers

By Cathy Downen, MA, MA, PLPC

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30, NASB

Karen doesn’t know exactly when she got so tired. When she invited her elderly mother into her home to live with her family, she was optimistic about dealing with the challenges of her mother’s…

The Power of the Cognitive Behavioral Approach to Stereotyping

by Mary Singleton, MEd, PLPC

I’m sure I’m not the only one who has been thinking about recent racial conflicts involving police officers and citizens.  We have all seen how an event, such as a police officer shooting someone, can inspire dramatically different reactions in people — reactions which often correlate to race and which elicit very different feelings and behaviors as a result of these thoughts.  Cultural messages and life experiences contribute…

Create A Peace You Can Live With Now

by Dwain Sliger, MDiv, MA, LPC, CRAADC

As a therapist, who follows Christ, I believe we have been sent into the world to be a blessing to others. In order to be a blessing, we work toward putting flesh to our words, touching people in tangible ways. Author Hugh Halter, in his book, Flesh, reminds every Christ follower about a well known blessing found in the concept of shalom or God’s original design for humanity.

shalom peace

Below are the truths we bring to the world:

  • Peace with God
  • Peace
  • How To Build Trust In Relationships

    By Darrell Provinse, MA, LPC, NCC, Executive Director

    I don’t believe that you can live for very long on this planet without realizing that the fairy tale ideal of “Happily Ever After” is just that- a fairy tale. Broken people, in a fallen world, hurt each other, sometimes in big ways, sometimes in small ways. Sometimes, we relive or carry around past wounds from other relationships and import them into the present. Whatever the cause, I think most people, by the time they…

    The Best Valentine’s Day Gift: Another Chance

    By Cathy Downen, MA, MA, PLPC

    Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.1 Corinthians 13:4-8, NIV

    Love is a many splendored thing when you’re first dating Mr. or Miss Right, and Valentine’s…

    ‘Parenting the Love and Logic Way’ Comes to Agape

    By Kathy Bleitner, MEd, LPC

    Agape Christian Counseling has recently started offering Parenting the Love and Logic Way Classes!

    What is Love and Logic?

    Love and Logic is a philosophy of raising and teaching children, which allows adults to be happier, empowered, and more skilled in their interactions with children. Love allows children to grow through their mistakes. Logic allows children to live with the consequences of their choices. Love and Logic is a way of working with…

    How to Forgive the Unforgivable

    By Cathy Downen, MA, MA, PLPC

    Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.Psalm 51:10, ESV

    At Agape Christian Counseling Services, we assist many people who are struggling to find freedom in the aftermath of feeling deep hurts. We help clients cope with the results of living in a fallen world and journey with them on the road to recovery from all varieties of abuse, addictions, infidelity, poverty, racism, grief, illness, unemployment, and many other kinds…

    Sometimes Loss is the Best Thing

    By Kimberly Webb, MA, MBA, PLPC

    But this season of the year always hurts so much!  It is the time of year I lost my brother. When the weather turns colder, I just don’t want to do anything, and my family holidays have just never been anything but a reminder of what I’ve lost.

    This is a paraphrase of real life stories,  related to me again and again from clients, each reflecting its own version of details but leaving behind the same message.  Loss is hard!

    In my own life, …

    Perfectionism: Not So Perfect

    The Problem with Perfectionism

    Bob Vass, PLPC, NCC
    Perfectionism does not exist; to understand it is the triumph of human intelligence; to expect to possess it is the most dangerous kind of madness.Alfred de Musset, nineteenth century French poet

    A person’s blind pursuit of perfection causes constant frustration and pain.  If you are a perfectionist, by trying to achieve the impossible in every area of your life, you set yourself up to fail again and again.  By demanding…

    Raising Teenagers with Good Values

    By John A. Leber Jr. MA, PLPC

    Having worked in education for over  six years as a counselor, teacher, and coach, I’ve found one  troubling question that keeps presenting itself: Who is raising our teenagers and from where do they get their values and sense of worth?  The obvious answer would be that their parents are raising them and are instilling the appropriate values and beliefs.  Unfortunately, we need to question this belief and realize that our teenagers are…

    Lose and Win at the Same Time: A Lesson from Jesus on Marital Surrender

    By Kristy Cobillas, MEd, PLPC
    For whoever wants to save  his life will lose it, but whoever loses  his life for my sake will find it.Matthew 16:25

    We know in this chapter that Jesus was talking about how the Christ follower is to lay down (or sacrifice) what he or she wants and how he or she thinks things should be, in order to follow the way that is laid out by Christ Jesus.

    This same concept of surrender can be applied to the marital unit. Paul states in Ephesians 5:21 that husbands…

    Marriage and the Bible

    By Michele Anthony, MSW, LCSW

    Being married is one thing, but being happily married is quite another. Marriage can be one of the most challenging relationships created by God and sometimes that’s because we enter marriage with unrealistic expectations. Many of us expect that marriage will make us happy. It won’t. All it does is make us married. It’s up to us to make our union a happy one. One of the best ways to increase our chance that our marriage is happy is to clearly understand…

    Restoring Your Child By Giving A Behavioral “Re-do”

    By  Shelley Kues, MEd, LPC, Child Therapist
    The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.”  And he went outside and wept bitterly. James 1:19

    Peter denied Jesus three times on that awful night.  Peter had every intention  of doing “the right thing” earlier that evening when Jesus had predicted that  Peter would disown him. Peter…

    Dysfunctional Anger

    By Bob Vass, MEd, PLPC, NCC

    The one who harbors anger is like the person who picks up a hot coal to hurl it at his enemy:  that person is the only one who gets burned.(Chinese Proverb)

    So it is with dysfunctional anger – with one significant difference. That kind of anger also affects more than just the perpetrator; it can destroy relationships and ruin families.

    There is a distinction between anger as a normal human reaction and anger that turns into irrational rage.  Healthy…

    What’s In a Name: Who and What We Are

    Agape is the first word in our name and refers to the selfless, sacrificial, and unconditional love God has for His children. It’s part of our name because our goal is to reflect that kind of love as much as we humanly can to each and every one of our clients. We seek God’s wisdom, grace, and truth, without being condemning, judgmental, or combative.

    I’m Darrell Provinse, Executive Director of Agape Christian Counseling Services. It seemed fitting in launching the first …