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Mission & Philosophy

Our Mission

City Church Counseling Center exists to provide professional and clinical counseling from a Christian perspective, to provide training and educational opportunities for both churches and the broader San Francisco community, and to engage in meaningful dialogue with mental health professionals of all perspectives on matters of faith and psychological health.

 

Our Philosophy

We believe it's important to be honest about our presuppositions, as we all - whether religious or irreligious - have some kind of guiding framework or grid for thinking through life's big questions.  City Church Counseling Center roots its perspective in the story of Scripture and the ancient wisdom of Christian spirituality, seeing wholeness and healing through its narrative of a world broken and in need of redemption.  Though we'll never impose our convictions or shove the Bible in your face, this larger narrative guides our work.  The prodigious 17th century mathematician and philosopher, Blaise Pascal, describes the brokenness of the human condition through a Christian lens, writing in his Pensées

What else does this craving and this helplessness proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself.

Our conviction is that Pascal's words hit the mark - that humans are looking for satisfaction in substances and status, in religious ritual and financial portfolios, in politics and power.  And we've observed mass frustration in each attempt.  Thoreau observed, "The mass of men live lives of quiet desperation."

Into this, we join you not as experts who have figured out all of the answers, but as guides who have walked the path of suffering and who have tasted a bit of the redemption that comes through honest struggle.  We are professionals - committed to the highest standards of therapeutic practice, adhering to ethical codes of conduct, with training in top graduate and doctoral programs.  Yet, we are fellow travelers, committed to walking with you in your unique process.  We cannot fix problems, though we employ the tools of the clinical trade.  Growth and change is often a mysterious process, and too often the churches and Christian counselors prescribe simplistic remedies which are more condescending than helpful.  Our aim is to respect your unique process, and with your permission, to offer some of the unique ancient wisdom that represents the best of Christian faith.  You are always welcome to ask questions and to disagree.

 

Clinical Orientation

City Church Counseling Center is guided by a relational and incarnational model of care. The word most often attributed to the character of Jesus is "compassion." The original Greek word indicates that Jesus was moved in a deep way (literally, in his "gut") by the pain of others. We believe that compassion begins with a trusting relationship. If and when you feel safe, we can begin the harder work of confronting the roots and consequences of the problem. In our time together, we will likely explore your story - the unique narrative of your life. No two stories are alike. Abuse, for instance, is experienced differently by each person. We want to know you. Counseling, we find, can take on many different forms - from problem-solving to grieving, from gaining awareness to identifying patterns of hurting others, from self-contempt to self-sabotage. With your trust, we'll identify the places where you need to work. Some of our Christian and secular-psychological influences include the fine work of the Christian Counseling and Education Foundation (CCEF), the writings of Christians such as Larry Crabb, Dan Allender, Paul Tripp, Eric Johnson, and others, as well as the rich insights of Object-Relations Therapy, Attachment Theory, Narrative Therapy, Internal-Family Systems, and Existential Therapy (including the works of Bay Area native and committed atheist Irvin Yalom).