Dr. Judy B. Jacobs chose counseling because she believed it to be her calling and she has a passion for helping people to become whole again mentally and spiritually. She sees her clients from her second floor office at 1320 Central Park Boulevard. From the moment they set foot into her space, they are free. There are no inhibitions. They can open up and disclose the deep things on their hearts or work together as families and spouses to understand and appreciate one another. Her job is simply to listen to them, help them to hear one another and themselves and to promote love and growth.
Fredericksburg Parent and Family magazine had the privilege of speaking with Dr. Jacobs on what it takes to create a strong family.
Why Counseling? What was it that drew you into the field?
We all have been called to do something in this life from the time of birth. My call is to minister to people. As a former high school counselor in Hawaii where I counseled young girls, I understood that helping families heal would bring wholeness to the family. Jeremiah 29:11 states, "for I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil to give you a future and a hope."
What is the biggest myth about counseling?
Of the many myths there are about counseling, one of the most common that I hear is that counseling is for weak or sick people. The truth is counseling can help bring out strengths that may have been suppressed by fear and an irrational belief system. This strength may have been masked by some type of addiction, depression or et cetera.
How can counseling help in the development of a strong marriage?
It is so important to know who you are as an individual. We enter into relationships thinking that love is enough when we're actually entering just the first stage, which is the "Enchantment Stage." Once this stage is over, we move into what Dr. Tim Clinton of the American Association of Christian Counselors defines as " . . . the things I once loved now becomes the things that I now hate!"
Dissatisfaction in the relationship can occur when there are spiritual attacks, stress, speed, expectations or scripts. This dissatisfaction could lead to the "Angry Cycle," which at this point could cause one to feel unloved, not valuable, withdrawn and consequently cause walls to built.
A strong marriage can develop when we understand who we are as a person. Marital counseling can help the couple to effectively communicate by understanding emotional triggers while learning how to embrace the love language of each other. Seeking to develop their love maps will assist greatly in navigating through the seasons in their relationship, thereby fostering a new found strength for the journey. Together, building and embracing, once the couple grow to maturity they can focus on the tools to build and not to destroy.
Most people attribute the need for counseling when there are problems. Is it just as important to have the help of a professional when things are well?
That varies. The role of counseling is to equip individuals to become strong and to be confident in their abilities to problem solve. This is empowerment. When this happens, you can recognize your trigger and why you act the way that you do. When you change your belief system from a negative perspective to a positive one, then you change your character and you change you!
What sorts of family and life change situations should someone seek your help for?
Depression, fear, marriage, separation, divorce, anxiety, personality disorders, children caught up in high conflict of divorce, addictions.
We've lost the art of dinner and bed time conversation. Are these important and what sorts of things should families discuss during these times to build their bond?
Family time is essential. This is where the personality construct and maladaptations are formed. When the home is not chaotic, then children learn how to problem solve. The home becomes the first social contact for the kids before their move into the school system and environment.Taking the time to listen, and build that around dinner time (with the TV off) allows the children to talk and helps to build their confidence. Children also have love languages. Some are Physical Touch, Words of Affirmation, Quality Time and Acts of Service. This time should be made fun, as well as creative, thereby building good memories which will last for a life time.
What does it take to build a strong family in the modern era?
Take the time to make things happen. We live in such a fast-paced society that incorporates texting at the kitchen table, laptops and cell phones. Cut these devices off during dinner time and consider instituting a "no tech zone time." A strong family spends time together daily. They encourage one another, hug each other, prefer talks instead of yelling or the putting down of other family members. Children witness when their parents fight and despise being drawn into the middle. Any anger which exists in the family that is not resolved, destroys. Parents are the role models to set the right patterns. Worshiping together and prayer also makes a strong family. Dads leading in daily or weekly devotions shows the love of Christ and His gentleness.