Helping you on your journey to wholeness and peace
About Christopher L. Smith
Welcome! You have taken an important step just because of the fact that you are looking for yourself or for someone else for resources that can help you or them. It is my belief that it is God's will for each of us to be able to experience wholeness and peace. In my own faith tradition, this is what John wrote about and described as abundant life. Your faith tradition, or your own sense of spirituality, may well have a similar understanding.
When working with you in the office (which I seek to make a safe and comfortable place where your privacy and confidentiality is respected) at Seeking Shalom, I seek to meet you where you are at and help you find the way to get to the place that you want to get to or should be getting to. The focus is on your needs and the skills and strengths that you bring that can be used in addressing them as well as what can be developed that will help you to re-experience wholeness and peace. For many this may be a new experience, so I help you understand what to expect. The journey often involves grappling with difficult topics and addressing parts of yourself that you would sooner ignore, however, as you work through these you are able to experience a new sense of shalom (wholeness and peace). As I work with you, I will use a mixture of counseling approaches (rooted in systems theory but also using other approaches I am trained in when they would be helpful for your situation) allowing the integration of spiritual issues and techniques into regular therapy. In some cases, these services can also be provided using distance methods such as videoconferencing, chat or telephone.
My experience is broad as a counselor and supervisor of counselors and this allows me to more effectively help you as you address the things that bring you to my office. I am an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church but very used to working with people from a broad range of religious traditions as well as those whose spiritual orientation is outside of formal religion. I am licensed to provide marriage and family therapy (IN), mental health counseling (NY and IN) and clinical addiction counseling (IN). I have worked with people in a variety of settings: community mental health, private practice, nonprofit agencies and hospitals. I have worked and continue to work with people (children, adolescents, adults, couples and families) individually, within family units as well as other types of groups. People have come to me and found help for a variety of issues including addiction, loss and extended grieving, couples counseling (including outside of traditional marriage or family settings), depression, relationship issues and life direction. I also provide consultation with professionals (both in the mental health and in the faith communities) who are connected to you as I work with you and others that are simply trying to better understand how the fields can relate to each other.
Even though I have practiced for many years, I continue to improve and learn because I want to help you in the best ways that I can. I remain professionally active. In the past, I have served nationally as the president of the American College of Counselors, as the chair of the Presbyterian Serious Illness Network, and as the chair and/or member of task forces of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) related to mental health. More locally, my service has included the Alfred Adler Institute and within the Presbytery of New York City. My teaching has been at Auburn Theological Seminary, Pace University, Mercy College and Fordham University as well as others not in New York City.
It is a privilege to be able to walk with you on your journey. This is something that neither I not my staff take lightly and which we in fact we treasure your trust. Whether you are engaging in counseling sessions, coming to a seminar or reading my writinten works, it is my prayer that my role will be helpful in your being able to experience the depths of shalom in your life and relationships.
Christopher L. Smith Success Stories
Couples Counseling Has An End
When a couple finally comes to see a couples counselor at Seeking Shalom, or for that matter any other marriage therapist or pastoral counselor, they often are at a stage where they have almost given up and this move is their last hope. In fact in some cases, one or both of them may even have lost hope already. They may be experiencing a lot of conflict between the two partners, one or both of them might have cheated, there might just be silence between them, and they may even have discussed separation or divorce. They may have waited through weeks, months or even years of unpleasantness because of any of many different reasons: shame that they are going through these problems, fear that their relationship or marriage is actually over, lack of wanting to admit that they are having problems even to themselves, or even concern that once they start marriage counseling that they will never be free of couples counseling. But they are now seeking help.more
However, there is hope for them individually and as a couple. Seeing a couples counselor can help them change what is currently going on, learn new skills for the future and even transform their relationship. Doing so does not have to mean that couples counseling becomes a permanent appointment in their weekly calendar, just he same as church on Sunday or TGIF celebration on Friday.
They have not been able to address the issues that brought them into the office on their own and couples counseling can help with this. Couples counseling can also help them lay a foundation so that i the future they can better deal with new situations that may come up or develop. Once this work is done, if there are not other things to work on, generally the couple no longer has a need for counseling. When this is the case, neither I nor my staff want to have the couple to keep coming in and we won't. No qualified couples counselor who is acting ethically would continue to work with a couple that doesn’t have goals that they are still working on. For some couples, there may be a time period when they come in less frequently for "maintenance visits". These visits generally focus on checking in to make sure that they are still doing what they have learned, that nothing needs to be reviewed and that nothing else has come up as a problem. Even so, there usually comes a time when the couple should stop coming to see a couples counselor.
If the couple does not come to this conclusion, then the couples counselor working with them needs to do so. This is not always easy to do and the conversation can go different ways. An example of this from my practice would be a married couple that had achieved their goals and were no longer working on anything. When I asked them why they were still coming to therapy, they stated that their marriage had been so much better ever since coming to couples counseling. They expressed that they thought it was because they were seeing a coupels counselor, especially one that addressed issues of their faith. My response was to tell them that there was nothing magical about coming to see me for counseling. As we talked about this, they were able to talk about what they had learned in counseling. They also were clear on how they were applying these things in their lives and in their marriage, even in new things as they came up. I told them that they did not need to come anymore. In fact, as they were paying for sessions every other week, I told them to take the money that they had been paying me biweekly and to go on a nice date every other week. I also assured them that if something came back up or if they starting experincing a new problem in their relationship then I would be more than happy to have them come back to counseling, but when they did not need it they should not be coming. About six months went by and I got an email from one of them. When I went to open it, I hoped and prayed that they wer not having a new problem. What the email said was that they were still doing really well and that they were still enjoying the prescription of the biweekly date night.
My experience is that this pattern repeats itself over and over for different couples. In fact when I reflect on what success is as a couples counselor, this type of outcome is certainly a success. It is a success when the couple is able to experience wholeness and peace in their relationship and when they can contniue to experience this even when I am no longer directly involved. If you have something going on in your relationship, know that you too can find a safe place to talk and address what is going on and that doing so does not have to mean permanently making a couples counselor an additional part of your relationship.