Believers and unbelievers alike often need counseling to overcome life’s hurdles, and Rich Lewis of Pathways Counseling Clinic is devoted to providing that service.
DERIDDER— Believers and unbelievers alike often need counseling to overcome life’s hurdles, and Rich Lewis of Pathways Counseling Clinic is devoted to providing that service.
Lewis is a counselor for Granberry Counseling Center, a ministry of the Louisiana Baptist Children’s Home. Lewis also founded Pathways Counseling Clinic in August 2006, he said.
“Pathways is the result of Granberry’s mission to provide affordable, professional, Christian counseling in communities throughout Louisiana,” said Perry Hancock, executive director of LBCH. “Granberry works with young Christian counselors who need experience and clinical supervision in order to complete their training and obtain their license as professional counselors and marriage and family therapists in Louisiana.”
The process is working well in Beauregard Association, DOM Don Hunt said.
“It’s turning out to be a beautiful ministry,” Hunt said. “Sometimes it’s the first glimpse people in our community have of these people we call Baptists, when they’re directed to Granberry and Pathways.”
After graduating from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary with a Master of Arts degree in Marriage and Family Counseling, Lewis was faced with completing a 2-½ year professional licensing internship before he could become a licensed professional counselor, he said.
Granberry Counseling Center provided that internship for him. Lewis has worked for Granberry since November 2003, in their Leesville, Oakdale, Lake Charles and DeRidder offices, he said.
“Three years ago Granberry decided they wanted me to open a DeRidder office,” said Lewis, originally from DeRidder. Since June 2004, Lewis has been in charge of the DeRidder center while others have taken on the other centers, he said.
Once counselors become licensed, they can become providers for insurance companies, contracting services with agencies such as the school system and nonprofits, Lewis said. That business can lead to a private practice, as it did for Lewis.
In the next couple of months, Lewis plans to be totally self-sustaining, he said. About 98 percent of what he does now is solely in Pathways Counseling Clinic. His wife, Amie, works hand in hand with Lewis at the emerging practice, as the office manager.
Pathways provides marriage and family therapy, works with couples to improve relationships, works with families as a whole, provides parental training, and counsels individuals, married and single, on a wide assortment of psychological issues such as severe depression, anger management, grief counseling, anxiety, and behavioral therapy, he said.
“The foundation of everything I do is biblically sound,” Lewis said. “I’ll never do or say anything in a counseling session that will conflict with Scripture. That is the foundation of everything that I teach.
“But that doesn’t mean that in every session I’m quoting scripture,” he added. “I follow the model of Christ. It’s all about meeting the needs of the person. I’m not there to impose my will. It’s meeting them where they’re at currently, with what they need help with, and what they’re ready to work on.”
Some who come for counseling are believers, Lewis said.
“With that type of counseling, we may talk a whole lot about God. With unbelievers, though I may be teaching them biblical concepts, I do so in a non-threatening way. But at the same time I do share whether I think something is healthy, and they know the perspective I’m coming from.”
One of the biggest psychological issues believers deal with is depression, Lewis said.
“The perspective is that ‘I’m a Christian, I’m a believer, and if I had enough faith I’d be better,’” he explained. “Many believers think since they’re Christians they shouldn’t feel depressed, which brings on guilt. But that’s not the case. We’re going to go through a lot of things, because we live in a fallen world.”
One woman, suffering from severe depression, the worst that could be diagnosed Lewis said, came in and told him that she’d been asking God to take her. Though she was a strong Christian woman with a solid faith, she had fallen to the lowest of lows.
First, Lewis recommended that a Christian psychiatrist prescribe an anti-depressant for her so she would better benefit from counseling, he said.
Medication brought about an immediate improvement and allowed the two to look at the woman’s habits and ways of thinking, Lewis said.
“There were some unhealthy areas in the way she interpreted people and the way she assumed she was supposed to react and respond,” he said. “She would let people walk over her, and she was also misinterpreting the Scriptures that talk about being a servant.”
“Christ modeled taking care of himself before he took care of others,” Lewis continued. “Yes, we’re called to be a servant, but it has to be balanced.
“We were seeing changes every session,” Lewis said. In all, the woman was in counseling for four months. “I could see the gradual decline from depression to hope. The key to destroying depression is finding a way to infuse hope.”
In the end, Lewis taught the woman how to achieve a healthy balance of taking care of herself and giving to others, he said.
Depending on schedules, counseling sessions average about three times a month, Lewis said, and each session lasts about 50 minutes. A patient usually needs about 10 sessions.
“I work to help [clients] create a healthy thought life,” Lewis said. “But I can’t take someone in a direction unless they want to go that way … I can only show the way.”