Messianic counseling center expands reach due to COVID-19 restrictions

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Despite periodic lockdowns and on-going restrictions, the Anchor of Hope Family Counseling Center in Jerusalem has continued to provide counseling and counselor training during COVID-19.

The ministry addresses personal struggles such as addiction, anger management, bereavement, depression, anxiety, and stress management – amongst others – and offers couple, family, and pre-marital counseling.

The ministry’s director, Dr. Katherine Snyder, spoke to KNI about how Anchor of Hope adjusted in order to continue providing counseling and training. “When we first went into lockdown [in the spring], we just didn’t know what would happen. And then we realized it would be beneficial to offer online presentations, and take the counseling class and support group online. So really, [the pandemic] opened an additional avenue for us. It’s ironic, in a way.”

Thanks to Zoom, people from all over Israel are seeing the ministry’s counselors when normally they would have had to choose between traveling to one of the counseling centers in either Jerusalem or Tel-Aviv, and not receiving counseling.

Using this new venue, Dr. Snyder was able to give a presentation called Overcoming Anxiety. “The presentation was offered with simultaneous translation into Hebrew, with the help of Keren Silver, a trained counselor in Haifa. We had close to 60 attendees from every part of the country, which is more than would have attended a seminar on site.” The presentation addressed COVID-19 as well as broader topics such as releasing control, trusting God, identifying misbeliefs, renewing the mind, realizing the power of perceptions, becoming aware of natural reactions to fear but choosing hope – “Which is faith in the future tense.”

Another presentation that was well-attended thanks to Zoom was called Mental Health Issues in the Congregation: Depression, Suicide Assessment, Addiction. According to Dr. Snyder, these have been present in the local Body of believers since long before COVID-19, and the problem is compounded by aversion to addressing their existence.

The ministry’s 12-step program for men struggling with pornography has also been taken online, perhaps to stay there. The group has been getting more attendees thanks to the anonymity and ease of access afforded by online meetings. Baruch Lieberman, a life coach and graduate of Anchor of Hope’s own counseling course, facilitates the meetings.

As Israel continues to navigate COVID-19, Anchor of Hope is making plans for frequent online presentations and individual and couple counseling via Zoom, with in-person conversations and seminars when possible. Dr. Snyder concluded, “Although we’ve been restricted, we’ve also expanded because we’re reaching more people.”

Anchor of Hope’s website is http://anchorofhope.org.il/. To contact them, write to [email protected].