Category Archives for "Counseling"

called to thrive counseling
Feb 17

CTTR: Thrive Counseling

By dougl1kj | Counseling , Counseling and Therapy , Podcast , Thrive

In this episode Steve and Aki discuss how the THRIVE philosophy makes a difference in the counseling relationship and helps people go from broken to not only surviving but to thriving in their lives.

Are you looking to see if counseling is right for you?

Click here for a FREE exploratory meeting to see if counseling is right for you – click here:

called to thrive
Aug 10

Oh Precious One

By dougl1kj | Blog , Counseling , Depression

Oh Precious One

By Paget McCarthy


Sad, broken one,

What has left you

In so many pieces

You no longer

Collect them?


Laughter, joy, smiles all cease

Fade away, until forgotten.


Pain and sorrow


Taint the past

Distort tomorrow.

How long will it last?


Oh Man of many sorrows,

Surely you can know me.

You who formed me

Like a potter

Surely you can see a ray of hope.

If I’m your son, if I’m your daughter,

Show up, my King, show up, my Papa.


What would my maker say?


Come to me

I will wrap your wounds.

Come to me, my precious one.

See the vessel of your tears?

A regal collection.

Come to me.

I have healing in my wings.

Rest in the shadow of your maker.


In due season,

You will see

There’s a reason

And a purpose

For your story

And the pain.

Sometimes cruel –

But promised gain.

A joy, placed in the distance.

You are fashioned

In my likeness.


Soon enough

Tears no more.

Kingdom come.

Oh precious one

Your story will live

Beyond you.

Come to me, come to me.

Glory, Glory.


You have purpose

You have meaning

Let the light


On your weary soul.

Let your life

Be a part

Of an eternal



Don’t give up

Stand tall.

See the hope

In your call.

You are loved,

Apple of my eye.

The eye who creates

Awesome value…


Grasp the meaning.


Like the psalmist

When in anguish


To his Father

Come, my child.


Do not miss

Your purpose

Oh precious one.





***If you’re hurting and struggling, please consider calling Grace Wellness Center.


You are precious in God’s sight (Isa 43:4,5).

God has a plan for you; a life with a future and a hope (Jer 29:11).

called to thrive - wellness wheel
Aug 28

Wellness Wheel: Family and Friends

By Jonathan Held | Blog , Coaching , Counseling

called to thrive - wellness wheel

Today I wanted to talk about our first category of the wellness wheel (family and friends) and how strengthening relationships in this area of life can contribute to overall wellness. I talked quite a bit in the introductory blog about family, so my goal in today’s writing is to keep it short, and to offer some practical ways to thrive in this category.

Let me begin by discussing balance. I think we all struggle to find balance to a certain degree (especially with our busy lifestyles) however, it is important to find balance in life amongst family, friends, and work. When I was younger, I often struggled to balance family and friends. I’ve said before that I’m far from a perfect person, and certainly I have made many mistakes in this area. 

 When I was first married, my focus was probably more on going out and partying with friends than on strengthening my marriage. Over time, I learned that if my marriage was going to last, I was going to have to shift my priorities. Through the grace of God, and much humility, I was able to turn towards my wife (and young children) and away from the excuses that “allowed” me to turn away. I’m sure most guys have used them: “I need some me time,” “I just worked all day and need to relax,” etc. If we’re not careful, we can fool ourselves into turning away from our spouses and towards things of this world that do not last. 

 Unfortunately, the next phases of life can give birth to a marital enemy that is much more insidious – WORK. Jesus said “you cannot serve both God and money,” yet this is precisely where I found myself. The truth is, the pattern was the same as the one discussed above – I was looking for excuses to not focus on the hard work of pouring into my family because it was easier to be gone all the time. So, using the excuse of needing to pay the bills, I took a job that valued time and commitment to the organization, over what I believe would be God’s will: time and commitment to marriage and family. 

 This is how I found myself at Grace Wellness Center: an organization that believes that family is vital to overall wellness in life!  In the last few months I have strengthened my family relationships and have been able to get to know my children again. So if you’re thinking lucky you, I can’t just up and change jobs, my challenge is this: find small ways to turn towards your spouse and your family. 

 Perhaps finding new employment is the only way to save your marriage or family, but that would be something to prayerfully consider. Instead, my belief is that if you put these steps into action in your life, you will hopefully find healing in your dearest relationships:

 Step 1: find one on one “date” time with your spouse at least once a week.

Step 2: do one activity as a whole family at least once a week.

Step 3: find time to get together with friends (as a couple or family) at least once a month

 I know many people probably feel that they would not have time or space to do the steps listed above, and so part of this challenge is to make it your own.  Sit and talk with your spouse and modify the steps to what works for your family and then stick to them! My wife and I are rarely able to go out on dates, but sometimes will get together after the kids go to bed – and stay up just talking to each other. As a family, we might have family game night once a week – or go out for ice cream in the summer. As far as time with friends, we generally get together with others that have kids, as opposed to finding a sitter. 

 The important thing is that you are carving out time and being intentional about spending that time together. If you can take small steps in these directions, I know your family can thrive! 

   Jonathan Held, LCSW


As always if you are interested in meeting with me or another counselor, either face to face or online you can email me at or call our intake at 724.863.7223

called to thrive - splakna experience
Jun 07

My Splankna Experience

By Stephen Luther | Blog , Counseling , Splankna Healing Ministry , Wellness

called to thrive - splakna experience

What on earth is “Splankna?”  I’m glad you asked.  Let me first tell you my experience and then I will let you know how to find out more about it.
After several years of being involved in Christian ministry I found Splankna healing ministry and it changed my life.  As a Christian counselor, I worked with many people through Biblical counseling and saw a lot of progress but it was limited.  Many people didn’t get well and others got well but never really thrived.

    “and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”  John 8:32 NASB

If the truth is suppose to set us free, why were so many not being set free?  Why was I not being set free?  I found out that it is because lies and agreements made during hurtful experiences were still running in my subconscious and the truth could not take root.  I also learned spiritual warfare, which was mostly ignored during my Christian upbringing, had much more of an impact than I knew.

When I first began training in Splankna healing ministry I saw my connection with God open up as each barrier was removed.  The next thing I noticed was that I began to be more of myself and got back to who God had created me to be.  One of those areas was in physical health.  Over the past 15 years or so I had developed unhealthy eating and lifestyle habits that lead to me putting on 60 pounds and becoming very unhealthy.  This is not who I was, I knew that, but couldn’t get back to the healthy, active and athletic person I use to be.  After having Splankna therapy I began to notice I no longer was drawn to my unhealthy habits and that they were no longer connected to the same emotional needs.  I began to change my lifestyle and over the next couple years I lost 60 pounds and started running marathons.  Now don’t worry, if that isn’t who you are, Splankna won’t make you run marathons!  But, it will allow you to be more you, whoever that is.  Wouldn’t that be awesome?

Well, not only can you experience that for yourself, you can help other people experience it as well by coming to our upcoming training here in Pittsburgh.  Splankna is a mind-body healing ministry that allows you to get directly to the root of persistent problems in your life and heal the brokenness behind those problems.  This is done by utilizing the created mechanism behind mind-body healing and utilizing Christian healing ministry, prayer, forgiveness and techniques to address spiritual warfare.  It is by far the most effective and powerful tool I have ever used in ministry and counseling.

Splankna training is for Christian counselors, pastors and others wanting to help people.  You do not have to be a licensed counselor or ordained minister to take the training and begin helping people heal.  Please contact me directly with any questions or to come to the office and see a live demonstration.  If interested please email me at

Life is a Journey, do more than survive; choose to THRIVE!

By Stephen Luther
Executive Director of Grace Wellness Center
Licensed Professional Counselor, Therapeutic Parent Coach and Splankna Trainer

called to thrive -deep subconscious
Jun 03

Why Can’t I Get Well?

By Stephen Luther | Blog , Counseling , Splankna Healing Ministry , Walking Wounded , Wellness

called to thrive -deep subconscious

We have all had this experience; we know what is wrong, we want to get well, we may even seek help, but nothing works.  It’s frustrating and if you’re like a lot of people, you have just accepted that some things won’t change.  You’ve accepted something less than the abundant life Christ came to give you.  Or maybe you have accepted some watered down version of abundant life and become convinced there is nothing more.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”  John 10:10 NASB

But if Christ came so that we can have abundant life, it must be possible.  I challenge you to start believing that.  Or at least to start wanting to believe it.  Are you willing to do that?  Let’s look deeper into this issue and explore what is going on and why so many of us can’t find freedom.

Most of our issues are deeply rooted and buried in our subconscious.  They emerge when they are triggered but then they get submerged until they are “needed” again.  These issues are the result of a past wound or maybe many past experiences that hurt you.  These experiences come with a lot of negative emotion that get attached to that issue and, unless resolved, weigh it down and keep it buried in your subconscious.  You may be aware that it is there, but in your conscious mind you cannot resolve it or deal with all of its impact.  Think of something being submerged in the deep end of a pool weighed down by a lot of heavy weights.  You may dive down and try to bring it to the surface but the weights become too much and you lose your grip and it sinks to the bottom again.  This is what it is like when we try to resolve deeply rooted issues.  We try to bring it to the surface and deal with it but we can’t.  Each time we try, we begin to lose faith that it can be resolved.  It’s hard to believe something can be resolved when all your experiences tell you otherwise.  It’s hard to believe you can truly be free and have abundant life.  That’s why I challenged you, that if you can’t believe it, you can want to believe it.  That’s where it starts.  Choose to want to believe you can get well, offer that to God and ask him to fill in the gaps in your faith.

Immediately the boy’s father cried out and said, “I do believe; help my unbelief.”  Mark 9:24

Let go back to our analogy for a second.  What if you could dive down and one at a time cut the weights off of this thing that is submerged in the deep end of the pool.  With each weight that is removed it would begin to rise and eventually be floating on the surface of the water.   Could you remove it now?  absolutely!  So what if we could do that with those deeply rooted issues in our lives?  Well, you can.  This is exactly what we do in Splankna healing ministry.

At Grace Wellness Center we provide both Splankna treatment and in partnership with the Splankna Institute are now offering level 1 Splankna training to pastors, counselors and anyone else who has a passion for ministry and helping others in the Pittsburgh area.  You do not have to be a pastor or professional counselor to use this tool.  In my personal counseling practice and ministry, Splankna has become my most valuable tool and I believe once you experience it you will understand why.  Training is coming to Pittsburgh in July 2016 so don’t miss out!

Please contact me directly with any questions or to come to the office and see a live demonstration.  If interested please email me at

Life is a Journey, do more than survive; choose to THRIVE!

By Stephen Luther

Executive Director of Grace Wellness Center

Licensed Professional Counselor, Therapeutic Parent Coach and Splankna Trainer

called to thrive - struggles
May 31

Integrated Wellness: My Personal Struggles, Successes, and the Relation to Family Therapy

By Jonathan Held | Blog , Coaching , Counseling , Life , Wellness

Hi, my name is Jonathan Held, LCSW. Today I wanted to talk about my personal struggles, and successes with wellness and how family and/or couples therapy can fit into overall wellness.

First allow me to share with you some of the ways I have learned to bring wellness into my own life. I should start by saying that if you’re thinking why would I listen to this guy he thinks he has it all together, I can assure you that is not the case. Like most people, I struggle to maintain balance in my life. As a teenager I was probably about 100 pounds overweight. One of my greatest accomplishments was losing this weight; however, through most of my life I was rarely able to motivate myself to exercise. About one year ago (at 32 years of age) I discovered Beachbody and set a goal for myself that I would exercise six days a week for a year. I am happy to say that I achieved this goal and still continue to have daily exercise in my life. (I also – through Beachbody – have been turned onto Shakeology, which is what I am about to enjoy in this picture!). Like most accomplishments that stick, I did not try to do anything extreme, but instead attempted to bring balance by exercising 20 to 30 minutes a day and often modifying so as to not injure myself. You’re probably thinking wait a minute, I thought you were going to talk about family therapy – the tie in is this: setting small goals each day can sometimes produce the greatest results!

Other areas of life in which it is important to set (and maintain) small goals include family life, parenting, and romantic relationships/marriage. Generally speaking, I attempt to maintain a positive outlook on life and work towards maintaining positive relationships with all of those in my circle of influence – especially my immediate family. One of the best ways that I have found to do this is by making sure that each of my children – and my spouse – has a small amount of individualized attention each day, I will also attempt to have significant family time daily and weekly. Sometimes this can just be as simple as sitting down at the dinner table together, or going for a family walk/bike ride. The important goal is to maintain connection through family rituals.

In my practice, I often focus on relationships and the building of effective communication. I find that this can be a great step to maintaining overall wellness (I’m sure most of us can attest to the fact that we just don’t feel well – or make healthy choices – when we are not getting along well with our loved ones). The areas I am most passionate about  in practice are marriage and family. It surprises me how often couples and families state that they do not spend quality time together. I believe that part of the barrier to this is that we get stuck in negative patterns and ultimately avoid communication – which I believe is one of the magic pills to getting un-stuck in families (perhaps I should have said effective communication).

EFFECTIVE communication is where family therapy comes in. Through family work, I help others to communicate more effectively with each other, and help families to restructure in a way that children can thrive through an appropriate balance of structure and bonding/nurturing. One of the keys to this is helping parents discuss areas where they can more effectively align/work together to parent and to help talk with their children about emotional needs.

Of course family therapy is not the only focus – even in individual therapy, relationships (and wellness!) often become a part of the focus. Through assessment we will work together to determine areas of emotional stuckness in past/current relationships, work through ways to heal these hurts, and plan for ways to build and continue to maintain healthy relationships in the future.

One of the most important parts of therapy is YOU. Through counseling we will work together to help you come up with goals that make sense for your life (or your family) and establish a pace that works for you with an appropriate balance of pacing and challenging/meeting achievable goals. If you are ready to begin a journey towards healing and integrated wellness please call us at 724.863.7223 or you can email me directly at

called to thrive - dog fight
May 25

A Dog Fight

By Ron Agostoni | Blog , Counseling , Life , Walking Wounded , Wellness

called to thrive - dog fight

“That will teach them”.  Every utter that phrase? Ever experience that feeling of rage building inside of you, ready to explode out of your chest like something from the movie Alien.  Like an untamed wild animal gnawing at your mind and emotions. There’s that desire to tell someone off, cuss them out, or to slam on the accelerator speeding past the person who cut you off while “flipping the bird”. Like a dog tugging at its leash, it pulls you down, drags you about, and leads you down somewhere you don’t want to go.  And what do we call that dog; it goes by the name of Anger.

This dog named Anger has a message.  In the midst of the gnarling and the showing of teeth, it’s saying: “They deserved it”, “They will pay for that”, “They will regret it”, “I swear to God, I’m gonna…”, “If only they would shut up, then I wouldn’t…”.   And the fight is on.  The fight between giving someone a piece of your mind and that voice saying, “let it go”.  And there it is, the other dog named self-control; telling you to stop, or you shouldn’t do that, this won’t help.  So which dog is going to win, well it depends on which dog you feed the most.

That untamed dog named Anger has proven to destroy friendships, marriages, land someone in prison, and can even lead to major health problems.  But the dog named self-control is capable, patient, mature, forgiving, expresses forbearance, and restores.  Which dog do you feed?  John 6:35 reads: Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”  Are you eating from the bread of life or are feasting off the bait of Satan?

Scripture reveals to us that vengeance belongs to our Lord.  Deuteronomy 32:35 reads: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay. In due time their foot will slip; their day of disaster is near and their doom rushes upon them.”  The truth is that vengeance is His and we have no right to seek it out on our own.  We are required to forgive, this is not an option that we have the right to decide whether or not we will forgive someone, but rather something that is vital to our wellbeing, both spiritually and physically. We are called daily to forgive, 7×70, not allowing the sun to set on our anger.  Despite the dog fight between wanting our own “pound of flesh” and “turning the other cheek”, the fact is that God will avenge us and He is more swift and just than we are.

Even as I write this, I am reminded of the dog fights I have had to endure throughout my life. When I was younger, if someone hurt me, I would hurt them worse just to “teach them a lesson”.  We may feel justified to retaliate, or to speak our minds telling someone exactly what we think, but we are not. And there lies the problem as I see it. That side where we believe that we are entitled to seek justice and “speak our mind” and the side that reminds us we are not.  Let me be clear about this, I am not saying that anger in itself is wrong, sinful, or always unwanted.  After all anger is only an emotion.  However, what we do with that anger and how much time we devote to “feeding that dog”; well that can turn into a destructive pattern within our lives.

When we feed off of the bread of life and enjoy the fruits of the spirit, allowing God to deal with those who have offended us, the load on our shoulders is no longer heavy.  There is a relief and a sense of freedom that comes about. So in the end, the hard part in managing your anger comes down to the struggle between your sinful soul that seeks justice and the spirit of God what dwells inside of you. Which dog will you feed more? Learn to lean of the strength of God that dwells inside of you.  You need to prevent anger from overcoming your thoughts and life by being in the word of God because when you are in the word of God, His word reminds you of these things that provide the strength you need.  So be still and know that He is God and there you will find that peace that surpasses all understanding. And isn’t that is the end goal you’re seeking, that peace that surpasses all understanding while in the midst of a dog fight.

One last thought to consider, there are tools that can help you develop that self-control and manage your anger.  Head knowledge is good, Godly wisdom is essential, and developing tools that help enable self-control is possible.  If you are struggling with anger, or know someone who is, call the main office of Grace Wellness Center at 724-866-7223 for more information on our anger management group.  It is a group that utilizes Cognitive Behavior techniques and the word of God to reach a more abundant life.  Let go of angers leash and find rest in God.

called to thrive - life strikes a blow
Mar 22

THRIVE! – Even When Life Strikes a Blow!

By Stephen Luther | Blog , Coaching , Counseling , Wellness

called to thrive - life strikes a blow

We are children of the most high God and we were called to THRIVE!  This calling is undeniable when one reads the scripture.  We are to have abundant life, be overcomers, be free, walk in love and bear much fruit.  This gospel of just enduring until we can reap our benefits in heaven is toxic and it’s time we as Christians but it to death once and for all.  Don’t get me wrong, we have rewards in heaven but we are to Thrive here on earth as well.  Thriving in this life is not about being rich and successful by the world’s standards although some will.  Thriving means that we walk in the power God provides and we have abundant life regardless of our circumstances; even when the world strikes a blow.  Jesus was being questioned after his arrest when the following scene took place.
22 When Jesus said this, one of the officials nearby slapped him in the face. “Is this the way you answer the high priest?” he demanded.
23 “If I said something wrong,” Jesus replied, “testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?”    John 18:22, 23

When I read these verses today I pictured a little insignificant ant striking a mighty worrier. The official acted as though he had authority, superiority and power but does he?  Look at Jesus’ response.  He is unmoved by this attack; it had no power over him.  Why?  Because he had the truth; He already had the victory.  You see, Christ’s victory was already accomplished in Genesis 3:15 where it says “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”  The outcome has never been in question.  However, we often live as though it is.
What if we lived as though we already had the victory?  What if we stopped living on the defensive and started living victoriously?  What if when the world strikes a blow, we saw it as Christ did, as insignificant compared to the love and power of our heavenly father?  What if we recognized that we live with the same power Christ lived with, the Holy Spirit within us?

We would live victorious lives!  We would thrive no matter what our circumstances were.  Are you ready to do that?

Life is a Journey, do more than survive; choose to THRIVE!