Counseling in Israel booms online

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The Gift of Counseling after 2020

In a world of uncertainty, many turn to counseling for help. The ability to talk about what weighs us down with a counselor can be life-changing. Our lives have become completely different from what we know or are used to. At a time like that, sometimes what we need is for another person to listen.

Last year, we took some time to talk to Dr. Katherine Snyder, founder and director of Anchor of Hope counseling center in Jerusalem. Shortly after our world changed almost overnight, Israel was the first one in the western hemisphere to introduce nationwide lockdowns. This unexpected isolation has left many people feeling confused, alone and anxious.

A lot has changed since then. Today, Israel is seeing a lot more freedom. And as the temperatures rise, so does hope. Nevertheless, many families have been affected by this ongoing crisis. We asked Dr. Snyder how the current reality continues to affect Israelis.

Sharing Hope in Times of Crisis

“I believe [in counseling] we will see the effects of the pandemic for a long time after the ease of closures,” Dr. Snyder shared. “There was so much alienation, so many people lost jobs, there was so much uncertainty. So, personal issues will keep surfacing in the months to come.”

Despite moving them to Zoom, Anchor of Hope has seen an increase of counseling sessions in 2020 as compared to the year before. But the needs appear to touch a broad spectrum of issues, not just the pandemic or lockdowns. Which means, this unusual reality just augmented the many problems that people face now.

Only recently the stationary Anchor of Hope offices have opened up again for in-person counseling. Meanwhile, the center has also invested in online seminars, to train counselors in different parts of Israel, to serve locally. The seminar on overcoming anxiety was especially popular. It made many of the believers and congregational leaders realize that this was a great need in Israel.

Coaching to Counsel

When Anchor of Hope Counseling Center was established, it filled a great void in the messianic community of Israel. The center helps believers find hope and a renewed sense of God’s loving care. Aside from much needed counseling, Anchor of Hope also trains lay counselors and organizes specialized seminars for leaders and ministry workers in Israel.

The pandemic gave Anchor of Hope an opportunity to expand their presentations and trainings. Which have gained popularity all over the country and internationally. Aside from the seminar on overcoming anxiety (which was presented twice), the center also taught on pastoral care and mental issues.

Presently, when Israel is allowing small gatherings once again, Anchor of Hope is planning on hosting conferences on site once again. Meanwhile, many will continue to be offered online. So far this year there has been a conference every month and this will continue at least through June.

This article originally appeared on FIRM, May 14, 2021, and reposted with permission.