Welcome to Sanctuary Counseling Group

Sanctuary (n): from the Latin sanctus or holy; 1) a sacred or holy place; 2) a place of refuge or safety, a haven; 3) shelter from danger, hardship, or threat.

Sanctuary Counseling Group—formerly known as Methodist Counseling and Consultation Services—has provided mental health counseling and pastoral counseling in the greater Charlotte area and in satellite offices in cities and towns around the western piedmont of North Carolina for over 50 years. Sanctuary Counseling Group currently has satellite offices in 14 locations in the western piedmont.

To learn more about us and the kinds of services we provide, or to find out how to make an appointment with a therapist in your geographical area, feel free to contact us. We would love to hear from you.

Staff Perspectives:

Winning Over Anxiety: Practical Ways Parents Can Help Their Children Overcome School Anxiety

School can create a significant amount of anxiety, tension and stress within children, especially if they are entering a new grade or a new school.

One of the most important factors in dealing with school anxiety is for parents to have a plan in regard to how they will react and what they will do to help ease their child's mind. This means being proactive versus reactive to their child's tantrums, fears, and questions.

The first step in being proactive to your child's anxiety is to acknowledge their feelings. This begins with pointing out the physical symptoms that you see. For example, "I see that you are crying and that you are refusing to get out of bed. You seem worried about school." This provides a chance for the child to be validated for their fears and allows for open communication between the child and parents. This should be followed up with communicating the limit and teaching a more appropriate response such as, "Unfortunately it's not an option to stay home from school. Letís think of some things that would help you feel better."

Knowing a varied list of positive coping mechanisms for anxiety is also important for both children and parents. I consider these to be the tools that we always have with us for coping with difficult emotions. One of the most common coping skills for anxiety is talking to a friend or a family member about how you are feeling. This can allow the parent to understand and ask questions about the child's fears, while providing a supportive environment for the child to feel heard, accepted and comforted. Deep breathing or counting slowly to 10 can also be ways for the child to cope with anxiety and learn how to self soothe in the midst of hard situations. Parents can coach their children that this is something they can do without anyone knowing, throughout the school day when they feel stressed.

As adults, we know that the more we ruminate on our negative thoughts, the more our anxiety will continue to increase. Children can change their thought patterns by doing something that distracts them from their fears. Examples can include listening to a song that makes them feel happy, reading a book or watching a movie.

For children who struggle with anxiety the morning of, it may be helpful for them to think about a positive experience they have had. To help the child fully enjoy the benefit of this de-stress strategy, I encourage children to be descriptive with their senses, telling me what they heard, smelled and/or tasted during this time. Parents can then encourage children to think about this throughout their school day if they have feelings of worry, sadness or homesickness.

Another valuable tool for helping children handle their uncomfortable, anxious feelings is to urge them to rephrase their "worry thoughts" to a more positive statement that encourages rather than discourages. For example, if your child complains: "School is hard! I donít want to go," you could acknowledge the feeling that we all worry and don't always want to go to school or work, but we need to tell ourselves: "School can be hard sometimes, but I have a lot of fun there too."

With a little guidance, most children can find some humor in the situation, which lightens the mood and makes it seem less serious. When we find a lighthearted way to commiserate about the drudgery of school or the uncertainty of friends, we are helping children cope with their worries.

Shannon White, M.A
Davidson Office, Davidson UMC

"Do one thing every day that scares you."
~ Eleanor Roosevelt

"It's okay to be scared. Being scared means
you're about to do something really, really brave."
~ Mandy Hale

"STRESSED spelled backwards is DESSERTS."
~ Anonymous


Find a Therapist in Your Area

Sanctuary Counseling Group provides pastoral counseling and mental health counseling throughout the piedmont of North Carolina, from Shelby in the west to Salisbury in the east, from Pineville in the south to Hickory in the north … and in multiple locations in between—Charlotte, Monroe, Concord, Belmont, Davidson, Pineville, and Gastonia.

Find a therapist in your geographical area by checking our sites page.

Resources for Pastors

Sanctuary Counseling Group recognizes the unique needs and stressors of pastors working within the pastorate as well as the needs of the pastoral family. To this end we offer a number of resources specifically for clergy

Check out the Clergy Resources page, including educational and workshop opportunities, counseling and consultation, vocational assessment, and helpful readings. Feel free to contact an SCG therapist in your geographical area for further information. As persons trained in both theology and mental health counseling—and with a high standard of confidentiality—SCG therapists are in a unique position to serve the needs of parish clergy and their families.

Remember …

"Self-care is never a selfish act—it is simply
good stewardship of the only gift I have,
the gift I was put on earth to offer to others."
~Parker Palmer

Donating to Sanctuary Counseling Group

While much of our budget is sustained by client fees, there are also a number of individuals, churches, and organizations that join with us in our ministry.

Please consider making a tax deductible donation to the ministry of Sanctuary Counseling Group. Unless otherwise designated, donations will be used to help supplement the Samaritan Client Assistance Fund, helping to supplement fees for those who might not otherwise be able to afford counseling.

Our Samaritan Client Assistance Fund is what makes Sanctuary Counseling Group a ministry and not just a business. By donating to Sanctuary Counseling Group's Samaritan Client Assistance Fund you can directly help those who are hurting. Our goal is to turn no one away because of lack of finances.

Please visit our Partners in Ministry page for more information or to make a contribution.


Mission Statement

Being dedicated to the healing of heart, mind, and soul, we provide excellent emotional, spiritual, and relational health care to all people of the Carolinas.

Sanctuary Counseling Group is an accredited service center of the American Association of Pastoral Counselors and the Samaritan Institute.