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Liberty Baptists addressing mental health issues with counselor's column


GLASGOW—Liberty Baptist Association's Director of Missions Lynn Traylor is inviting a local biblical counselor to address mental health issues through a quarterly column in the association's monthly newsletter.

His main motive behind featuring the column is for church members to become more alert to opportunities to help their fellow members, as well as for pastors to understand that it's OK to ask for help in dealing with their own mental health struggles, Traylor said.

"When we see stories that make the national news of a pastor who takes his life, we are reminded that there may be issues that pastors are facing which could have been resolved or helped if they had been able to reach out to a resource such as a trained counselor," he said.

Summer Watkins

Traylor chose Summer Watson, a licensed professional clinical counselor and director of Heart Cry for Hope, to write the column. She holds a bachelor's degree in human services and a master's degree in counseling and human development. A member of Calvary Baptist Church in Glasgow, she has sensed God's calling to also be board certified as a biblical counselor.

"The Lord took me out of the community mental health setting and, over the course of a few years, really laid it on my heart to open a Christ-centered, counseling program," Watson said. Heart Cry for Hope offers marriage enrichment, family and individual counseling, crisis intervention, as well as grief, tragedy and loss counseling, she noted.

"The need is great, she said. "Anxiety is at an all-time high in our society now," she assessed, adding that "the need for counseling, especially biblical counseling, is dire."

Watson's growing practice, which began five years ago and currently serves 16 counties across South Central Kentucky, has recently expanded to offer three counselors. Clients come from as far away as Monticello, a couple of hours toward the east, and Morgantown toward the west. She was appointed in 2016 to serve on the State Board of Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors.

While Heart Cry for Hope is a not a non-profit organization, Watson said the center collaborates with area churches to provide services for people who cannot afford counseling. "We don't want to turn anyone away who is seeking Christian counseling," she said.

In her first column for Liberty Association, because the winter season is approaching, Watson will focus on Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is a common type of depression that some people experience during wintertime.

As a pastor for more than 30 years prior to becoming a director of missions, Traylor understands the challenges that some pastors have in facing situations that cause them to question their self-worth and perhaps even their calling.

"Often, pastors feel they cannot share their burdens with anyone in the church, lest they give someone an opening to be wounded further," Traylor said, "and they cannot share it with their families because they want to spare them the pain and anxiety they may be dealing with."

Through Watson's column, Traylor hopes churches will become more sensitive and understanding, not just to the needs of their pastors, but also to those of their fellow church members. (WR)

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