EP 143: How The Right Professional Counselor Can Help You: Johnny Sanders

Diana WinklerDomestic Violence Leave a Comment

Can a counselor help me in my situation? What are the qualifications to be a licensed professional counselor? What is the difference between a psychiatrist and a psychologist? My guest this week is Johnny Sanders, a Christian counselor, who answers these questions and more when seeking counsel. What should I look for when choosing a counselor, and what are the red flags? What if I don’t like my counselor? Johnny is very good at explaining these topics in an easy going, pleasant manner. You will learn a lot along the way during this enjoyable conversation!


Johnny is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Oklahoma and Texas.  He is the owner of the Christian Counseling practice, Truth & Grace Counseling.  Johnny is also a host of the podcast Faithfully Engaged.  Johnny interviews guests on Faithfully Engaged who are engaging in culture instead of living in anger and apathy.

Truth & Grace Counseling (truthandgracecounseling.com)


This is my podcast website.  The podcast is weekly on Monday mornings 7am CST.  I interview guests that are engaging in life and the conversation leads to actionable steps you can take to be more engaged in life.

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Johnny Sanders

[00:00:00] Welcome to the Wounds of the Faithful podcast, brought to you by DSW Ministries. Your host is singer, songwriter, speaker, and domestic violence advocate, Diana Winkler. She is passionate about helping survivors in the church heal from domestic violence and abuse and trauma. This podcast is not a substitute for professional counseling or qualified medical help.

[00:00:26] Now, here is Diana.

[00:00:33] Hey everybody, welcome back to the Wounds of the Faithful podcast. If we haven’t met, my name is Diana and I am here to help you heal from domestic violence, abuse, and trauma. This is a safe place and we’ve been having some great guests lately. Amanda Blackwood last week, [00:01:00] she was amazing, wasn’t she? We had some conversation after the recording stopped, and I had wished that we still were recording, because we just laughed and had so much fun and talked about other topics that I think you would have enjoyed.

[00:01:19] But, be sure to check out her books and her resources for sure. She will really help you. So we do have another guest today, it is a counselor, Johnny Sanders. And let me tell you a little bit about Johnny here because I don’t have a whole lot of counselors come on the show. He reached out to me, and

[00:01:51] let’s read a little bit about his bio.

[00:01:53] Being a conservative and a Christian is not very common in the counseling field. I [00:02:00] found myself saying, conservative Christian counselors should be more vocal about their values. Through conviction, I eventually created Truth and Grace Counseling.

[00:02:12] Instead of acting like a blank slate, I reveal my values to my clients. I have found an appropriate level of self disclosure actually lessens imposing those values on clients. Instead, I am helping clients make an informed consent of the worldview they want presented from their counselor. From there, I made Truth and Grace Counseling Podcast.

[00:02:42] While this has been a great show, I am now rebranding it as Faithfully Engaged. This show is focused on engaging culture instead of living in anger and apathy. I also have plans of adding personal development [00:03:00] services to the faithfully engaged brand as well.

[00:03:04] Johnny is a licensed professional counselor in Oklahoma and Texas.

[00:03:10] And so I Invited him on the show because he’s a licensed professional counselor and I should do a show on life coaches Versus Licensed professional counselors versus Christian counseling, but I’m going to have Johnny talk about that because I’m sure he’s knowledgeable on that. And if you’re looking for a counselor and you’re in Oklahoma or Texas, then you want to pay attention and see if it’s a good fit for you.

[00:03:45] If you’re in need of these services, so

[00:03:49] I hope you enjoy my conversation with Johnny Sanders.

[00:03:53] Diana Winkler: All right, please welcome my guest today, Johnny Sanders. Thank you for coming [00:04:00] today. Appreciate it.

[00:04:02] Johnny Sanders: Absolutely. I’m so happy to be on today.

[00:04:05] Diana Winkler: And you’re coming from Oklahoma.

[00:04:09] Johnny Sanders: Yes. Yes. I am in southwestern Oklahoma. So if you look at the the map of Oklahoma and Texas, and there’s that squiggly line, that’s the red river.

[00:04:19] Johnny Sanders: I’m just a little bit north of that red river there.

[00:04:22] Diana Winkler: Nice. So tell us a little bit about yourself, your family.

[00:04:26] Johnny Sanders: Yeah, absolutely. So, I grew up in, actually the town that I’m currently living in, which is Duncan, Oklahoma. I very happy to have my parents that are nearby and, getting to, to see them often.

[00:04:40] Johnny Sanders: I am married now, and I’ve been married to my wife now. We just had an anniversary, so it’s just been six years now and we have. Two kiddos, the way we say it, we have two kiddos that are air breathers right now, and then we’ve got another kiddo on the way. so we got a three year old daughter, a two year old son, and then another son that,[00:05:00] as of recording of this, will be, we’re about a month and a half away.

[00:05:04] Johnny Sanders: So we’re getting close. Should be at the into August when he’s born. So, yeah, we got a growing little family and it’s, any of you that have little kids it’s eventful and tiring, but it’s wouldn’t trade it for the world. Of all the hats that I wear, being a husband, being a dad, that those are my favorite hats for sure.

[00:05:23] Diana Winkler: Well, that’s exciting. So congrats on kid number three. Going to be fun. Yeah. Are you a fan of who’s that comedian? it does the hot pockets anyway. He’s blonde and he talks about family.

[00:05:39] Diana Winkler: That’s his shtick. And he says, cause I think he’s got five kids. And he makes this joke, “Parenthood is you’re drowning and then somebody hands you another kid.” That’s that’s his jokes.

[00:05:51] Diana Winkler: Now, did you grow up in a Christian home? Is that your? Your background?

[00:05:56] Johnny Sanders: Yeah.

[00:05:57] Johnny Sanders: Yeah. So that I grew [00:06:00] up in a Christian homes. So I grew up in Southern Baptist church and I’m still a Baptist. So that’s something that as a kid, I just didn’t really think about that much that. Yeah, we just went to church. I know that I had my own personal faith at the age of six.

[00:06:18] Johnny Sanders: Knew that I was, that was a sinner and was able to accept that gift of salvation from Jesus and was baptized. And I remember growing up and. Particularly when I was like a teenager and you start hearing some more of these testimonies that like, I was a drug dealer or all of these like, crazy stories.

[00:06:41] Johnny Sanders: And then I was saved. And then your life miraculously turned around. And I remember hearing those and those are great. Don’t get me wrong. I’m so Like thrilled to hear those stories, but I would sit back and like, well, what’s my story? I was just six, grew up in church, accepted it like this is so [00:07:00] boring.

[00:07:00] Johnny Sanders: And now that I’m older and my church currently is kind of doing a series once a month, we do a potluck and one member will tell their testimony. And something our pastor says is there’s no such thing as a boring testimony. Now that I’m older, I see my, I have my own kids growing up.

[00:07:21] Johnny Sanders: It’s like, how much I pray that my kids would have a born testimony. That would be the best to just have them come to come to Christ at a young age. And now, like I said, now that I’m older, I’m so, so grateful for… Growing up in a Christian household and I can look back and see Christ take me out of situations that maybe I could have gotten myself into growing up.

[00:07:46] Johnny Sanders: So, yeah now I don’t see this as just a boring, nothing story. Like I’m super, super grateful for that.

[00:07:53] Diana Winkler: Yeah, I’m glad you see it that way because I train a lot of people to [00:08:00] hold their own small groups for helping people to heal from abuse. A couple of the people that want to train, they have never been abused, like yourself and they’re like, I don’t think I belong here.

[00:08:15] Diana Winkler: And I would tell them, you do have something of value to offer. That there is a God that loves you. There is such a thing as real Christianity. There is such a thing as a happy marriage. And a fulfilling life, it does exist and your testimony, even though you don’t have, this horrible abuse story, or you don’t have this sexy testimony of, like you say, going on drugs or prostitution or whatever, and then being radically saved we’re all still radically saved.

[00:08:49] Diana Winkler: And. God can still use us for his glory, regardless of what our background is, even if, we think it’s not as as you say, not as exciting [00:09:00] sounding, or it sounds, maybe it’s boring to us. So I totally agree with that. Now, you’re a counselor. Did you always want to be a counselor?

[00:09:08] Johnny Sanders: Yeah I enjoy this question. I’ve asked it to other counselors and I enjoy receiving this question too. So, the quick answer is no, that wasn’t something that I grew up and like, I just want to become a counselor. The journey of that really began when I was probably…

[00:09:28] Johnny Sanders: I don’t know, middle school, high school, I didn’t think of counseling during those times, but in my friend groups I was kind of the people that, I was the person that generally people would come and talk to, say if there’s two people in the friend group and one’s mad at the other person, I usually was that person in the middle, that they both Would come to.

[00:09:50] Johnny Sanders: And that was just a, that was just a natural thing. There was no training, nothing with that. That’s just something that I was used to. And then I went [00:10:00] into college and I was undecided. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. And ironically, I took a, my first psychology class. And that was probably the worst class I did in, which was mainly just because I was a freshman and didn’t have the best study habits and everything, but.

[00:10:19] Johnny Sanders: I actually really enjoyed it. I found it just really fascinating and the more of those psychology classes I took, and the more I was kind of looking at myself, okay, I already have some of these built in skills, some of these natural skills, and I find this kind of intriguing, taking these psychology classes, and then I just decided to make that my major, and Just continued on and ended up going to grad school and getting my master’s in counseling.

[00:10:50] Johnny Sanders: And then just like I said, just kept continuing on and eventually got my license down the road.

[00:10:55] Diana Winkler: I love it. I love how you take your natural gifts and turn it into a [00:11:00] career. So you’re a licensed counselor. What’s the difference between a psychiatrist, a counselor, a therapist, and what they call life coaches?

[00:11:14] Diana Winkler: Yeah, like we were kind

[00:11:15] Johnny Sanders: of talking off camera, those do get all lumped into the same thing. And There are a lot of similarities between these terms, some of them are interchangeable, but a lot of them are very different. So let me start with just my journey and kind of what that licensing process looks like.

[00:11:35] Johnny Sanders: So, being a licensed counselor, that is a master’s level. So you have to have a graduate degree and some type of counseling program. I can’t list for you all the types of programs out there. There are several. But it’s not just a bachelor’s level. It is a master’s level. And then from there it’s not even just as simple as you [00:12:00] get your piece of paper and then you’re licensed.

[00:12:02] Johnny Sanders: There’s actually a process after that. So, your master’s is really like your prerequisite to be able to even begin the journey. From there, there’s a It depends on the state. In Oklahoma. We called it being a candidate. Others might call it an intern. And that’s something to that with these license.

[00:12:21] Johnny Sanders: They are state license, so they can vary depending on which state that you’re in, but. That’s kind of an interim type of period. You have to have a supervisor. You have to do so many supervised hours. So basically what that means is you have to meet with your supervisor, usually once a week, once every other week, something like that.

[00:12:45] Johnny Sanders: And you have to do that for a lot of hours. For mine, I don’t know if this is 100% correct, but somewhere around 3, 000 hours. So it’s not a. You get it done in a weekend, like it’s over a year and a half, 2 [00:13:00] years, something like that type of process. And within that, there’s also some testing that you have to get done.

[00:13:07] Johnny Sanders: There’s a national counselor test. Then there’s state ethics tests that you have to do. And then even further than that, once you pass all of that and you get your full license, there’s still a yearly continuing education that you have to get, and again, that varies greatly depending on the state. So, there’s a lot of different hurdles that you have to climb and continue to climb to have that licensure.

[00:13:34] Johnny Sanders: And there are different types of licensed counselors. So I’m what’s called an LPC, a licensed professional counselor. These next ones that I’m going to mention, they are different, but more so in your training. What we can do with our license is basically the same. So they’re somewhat interchangeable. It’s just our training’s a little bit different.[00:14:00] [00:14:00] Johnny Sanders: Our licensing board’s a little bit different. But these are LMFT, so that’s a licensed marriage and family therapist. Again, very similar to an LPC. And then also went LCSW, a licensed clinical social worker, different training, but very similar things. So those are all those master’s level licensures that one can have.

[00:14:24] Johnny Sanders: Higher grade above that would be a psychologist. And It gets kind of tricky because somebody might have a bachelor’s in psychology. That means that they have a bachelor’s in psychology. They’re not a psychologist. Again it’s kind of tricky with that terminology. A psychologist is somebody that basically, if I were to continue my education and get a doctorate, then I could be a doctor of psychology and eventually get a license as a licensed.

[00:14:58] Johnny Sanders: So it would be a [00:15:00] similar type of path of what I already did to be a licensed professional counselor, but it’s a doctorate level. So it’s a step above. Then a psychiatrist. This is another big difference. It’s a doctor level, but we’re talking medical doctor. A psychiatrist has to go to medical school.

[00:15:21] Johnny Sanders: So they, they’re a doctor just like your family doctor and everybody like that. So they’re able to actually prescribe medication, things of that nature. So, again, little confusing, doctor level of a psych, psychologist. That’s doctor as far as education goes a step above master’s. Whereas psychiatrist is doctor as in what we normally think of as a doctor, a medical doctor.

[00:15:50] Johnny Sanders: I already covered a lot here, but the last one that I’ll cover there is that life coach and what’s drastically different of being a life coach than [00:16:00] as opposed to everything else that I mentioned here is that there’s no governing body there, there might be like certificates. So there, there can be some programs out there that maybe people will advertise as a certified life coach or something like that.

[00:16:17] Johnny Sanders: Maybe those programs are great. I don’t know, but it’s a much lower standard there. There really is no standard. I could say you’re a life coach tomorrow. Like, there’s nothing that’s there. So there are, there’s a, that your mileage may vary in any of these, but particularly there in life coach, that there can be some really great ones out there.

[00:16:38] Johnny Sanders: I’m sure that there’s some people that can really help others, but you just have to be very careful of what that means. And really what you’re getting there. I’ve known some licensed professional counselors that they might advertise as a life coach because they can help [00:17:00] people in states that they’re not licensed in.

[00:17:03] Johnny Sanders: So for me I’m now licensed in Oklahoma Texas, and recently been licensed in Florida, but I can only treat people in those states. If you’re in Arkansas if you’re in Arizona, wherever, I can’t see you as a client because I’m not licensed there. So some people may be a licensed professional counselor and do life coaching on the side.

[00:17:26] Johnny Sanders: You have to be careful with some of that terminology. But the reason why they would do that is that opens them up to other people, to other states. But there is some ethics involved there that we’re only need to be treating people that are specifically looking for life coaching. If you do that, as opposed to somebody that’s looking for counseling.

[00:17:46] Johnny Sanders: So I know that’s a lot. I don’t expect anybody listening to that to fully understand all of that, but there are some pretty distinct differences between all of those terms.

[00:17:56] Diana Winkler: No I think you did a great job in [00:18:00] describing the differences. I didn’t know some of what you said but I think that because I help a lot of abuse victims, they need to know that you don’t go to a life coach for mental health issues or like anxiety issues or major stuff like that.

[00:18:16] Diana Winkler: If you want to learn how to lose weight or run or balance your checkbook or whatever. Yeah, life coach sounds like that would be a good fit, but you agree with that?

[00:18:27] Johnny Sanders: But by and large, yes, so the one thing that a lot of coach Might be able to do and again, I want to be very cautious with some of that language there is You know being able to do some basic things.

[00:18:41] Johnny Sanders: So, yeah Here are some breathing techniques or something that you can do. Like we do that in counseling as well But There’s nothing complicated about that. Like that breathing techniques are fairly simple. Where we want to be real careful, though, is yeah, we’re going to go explore past traumas.

[00:18:57] Johnny Sanders: And maybe [00:19:00] giving some advice that could be dangerous. Yeah, you just want to be very cautious going down that road. I think that kind of what you mentioned there is by and large a pretty good rule to follow. Just, yeah, being cautious of what you’re signing up for.

[00:19:16] Johnny Sanders: A lot of people that I meet, including myself, we were exposed to nouthetic counseling, which is basically using just the Bible and nothing else for counseling. Now, I understand that it has a place if you have a spiritual problem, but what would happen is that they would tell their parishioners.

[00:19:38] Johnny Sanders: They go to the pastor and the pastor counsels them and they say, depression is a sin, anxiety is a sin, and they don’t refer them to a doctor or, a psychiatrist to get help or medication. They don’t believe in medication and that caused a lot of damage. So I always tell folks

[00:19:59] Johnny Sanders: [00:20:00] There’s nothing sinful about getting help for a health condition. Have you been exposed to that kind of logic with these nouthetic counselors?

[00:20:10] Johnny Sanders: Somewhat

[00:20:11] Johnny Sanders: I, I will kind of, admittedly say I don’t know a ton of, on that side of things, nor have had a ton of experience on that.

[00:20:20] Johnny Sanders: What I will say, and I’ll kind of bring in just my own kind of approach because in my counseling practice, I am in my private practice, I bring in Christian counseling and essentially what I do there is I have my statement of faith and all that stuff lined out there, and I even have in my informed consent that If you don’t agree with these things, that’s cool.

[00:20:43] Johnny Sanders: Like, you don’t have to but this is just kind of the if we’re going to bring in a spiritual component, this is kind of where I’m coming from with this and I like to be up front with that and also saying, yeah, I do have this, kind of psychological training as well on top of that.[00:21:00] [00:21:00] Johnny Sanders: But I bring that in as far as on the Christian counseling side of things, that I like to mention that as believers if we’re going to do this as Christian counseling, sin is at the root of everything that’s wrong in the world. It’s a I like to talk about sin impacting and it’s a yeah, it’s impacting of my individual sin.

[00:21:22] Johnny Sanders: Sure. Kind of like we, we talked about with my testimony. It’s all wonderful because we all need that. But just because sin is impacting the whole world. And just because I have sin does not mean every individual step along the way is because of my individual sin. So if I look at it, I’m feeling depressed maybe because of the abuse that has happened to me or whatever.

[00:21:49] Johnny Sanders: Sin is impacted there because If there was no sin in the world, there wouldn’t be abuse like that. That is very much the root of sin. We need to be careful, [00:22:00] though, of taking ownership of, what role did my individual sin play in this that nobody’s individual sin says, yeah come abuse me, like that’s not how that works.

[00:22:10] Johnny Sanders: So we just need to be very careful of how we’re viewing sin in that process. And we can have a sinful response to something that wasn’t necessarily my fault. We don’t want to just go there that well since impacting, it must be everything I did wrong. And I’m just this horrible, terrible person. That, that tends to not go very well.

[00:22:35] Diana Winkler: If we go in that approach. It just really leads to shame and doesn’t help anybody heal that way.

[00:22:43] Johnny Sanders: Right. And also bring it into this discussion. It’s able to lay it. Appropriate feet, like somebody who’s been abused, it’s hard to make sense of that. Like, why would somebody do that to me? [00:23:00] Why? And sin is actually a really, that really makes a lot of sense.

[00:23:07] Johnny Sanders: Like, because my spouse was sinful, because my grandpa or whoever that, that, that might be. We need that laid at appropriate parts there. And also along with that, sometimes, understandably so, somebody that’s been abused or had wretched things happen to them, they’re very angry, and they want to enact some type of vengeance or something like that, and having a fuller concept of sin, like, God says vengeance is mine, like there’s a lot of faith there of knowing that behavior doesn’t just poof away like, he, he is much better at dealing with sin than we are.

[00:23:54] Johnny Sanders: And I’ll talk about that with clients often that vengeance that you might want to try to get [00:24:00] understand why you might want to do it. You’re not as good as vengeance as God is. And I think this is so, so important to have that in context there.

[00:24:09] Diana Winkler: Yeah. A lot of our listeners, they are blamed for their abuse.

[00:24:14] Diana Winkler: Oh, you caused this abuse. You didn’t submit enough. You didn’t have sex with your husband enough and he went and did porn and he was beating you because you made him do it. You said this, you didn’t keep the house clean enough. You didn’t cook the stuff that he likes.

[00:24:32] Diana Winkler: You burnt dinner, whatever. It was always the person that’s being abused is being blamed for something that they have not a lot of control over. And so I’m glad you said that. So you have probably some stories of some people that you’ve helped. Obviously we’re not going to identify them in any way, but maybe talk a little bit about some of the experiences you’ve had with your [00:25:00] clients that you’ve helped or people that you’ve been able to

[00:25:03] Diana Winkler: really make a difference.

[00:25:06] Johnny Sanders: Yeah. I don’t have one particular person to have in mind with this. I’ve said this with several people and not just an abuse context and other contexts. When it comes to that blame there again, it’s all my fault. That is, that’s obviously very manipulative behavior and that’s something that we see very common in abuse, unfortunately, is there is that level of manipulation to where I, I’m told that I’m the one that’s wrong.

[00:25:43] Johnny Sanders: So, therefore, I must be the one that’s wrong. And many times I speak with my clients of, Okay, well, let’s look at this. If you did something wrong, then, by all means, I say all the time, If [00:26:00] I do something wrong, I need to apologize. If I have done something wrong. However, That is tied to a standard of my behavior.

[00:26:12] Johnny Sanders: It’s not tied to somebody’s feelings. And that is such a massive concept that many people, most of my clients actually, it’s not rocket science. It’s not like this crazy idea that I hatched up. But it seems foreign to so many people. I’m not responsible for somebody else’s feelings. I’m responsible for my actions.

[00:26:37] Johnny Sanders: Yes. Certainly, in most of these cases, it’s going to be a perpetrator of, if it’s domestic type of abuse, and that, not that it doesn’t happen wife to husband, but, certainly in a lot of these cases, we see husband to wife. What did you do wrong there? And I say this often, like, What was wrong?

[00:26:57] Johnny Sanders: Okay, you didn’t have enough sex with your husband. That, that was [00:27:00] kind of used as that example. What were the standards there? Are the expectations that it’s every single day? Did you cheat on your husband? Going deep into these type of questions, and most of the time, not a hundred percent, but most of the time we’ll look at, okay, if I did something wrong here, it was probably very minimal.

[00:27:23] Johnny Sanders: Like. I almost liken it to if my wife called me some little name, like you’re dumb or something like that. So then that gives me the right to punch her in the face. No that’s not how that works. That’s not proportionate to what happened. And most of the time when we actually take time to explore it, we realize, okay, again, my piece of the puzzle is very small.

[00:27:47] Johnny Sanders: So why I’m believing it’s all because… That I have the whole pie here. That’s all my fault. It’s not based off of my actions, but because of what is being told to [00:28:00] me and because of how they feel on the other end. And that’s dangerous. We don’t make these decisions. We don’t apologize again, based off of those emotions.

[00:28:11] Johnny Sanders: We apologize based off of those actions. So that is just such a common theme that I see all the time, whether it’s abuse cases or not, we have got to look at your actions. Because if somebody’s manipulating me, then it doesn’t matter what my actions are. They’re going to tell me I’m wrong, but just cause they tell me I’m wrong, doesn’t inherently mean that’s true.

[00:28:33] Johnny Sanders: It just means that they want me to feel that it’s true. And that, those are two very different things.

[00:28:39] Johnny Sanders: Definitely.

[00:28:41] Johnny Sanders: How as

[00:28:41] Diana Winkler: A counselor do you make them comfortable? These are really uncomfortable topics when you go to a counselor. I know that with my abuser, I went to three counselors and Yeah, my abuser would not participate or was very [00:29:00] against going to counseling.

[00:29:02] Diana Winkler: How do you make somebody comfortable once they get there and either they’re scared to talk or they don’t want to participate.

[00:29:11] Johnny Sanders: Yeah it, a lot of this does take one, just experience, I have seen many different cases and I’ve had many times where maybe I didn’t do as good of a job to make somebody feel comfortable.

[00:29:27] Johnny Sanders: And that is part of the process. That’s why we’re supervised for so long. Is you make mistakes. That’s just like with any other profession. So I’ve learned from some of those mistakes. And I’ve also learned, kind of going back to… Saying what made me a counselor in the first place of some leaning into some of those natural skills that I already have and being able to combine that training with those natural skills didn’t happen overnight, but I generally will start with very open ended questions and [00:30:00] I have this ability to kind of gauge where they’re at and there’s times I’ll kind of, I’ll throw things, I’ll even use the language sometimes of I’m just, throwing this out here.

[00:30:12] Johnny Sanders: Let me know if I’m right or wrong. And there’s times that I throw something out there and they’re like no, that’s not what happened. Okay. Then we might need to recalibrate a little bit. But if I see somebody that’s a little uncomfortable, I might even tell them, Hey, you seem to be uncomfortable.

[00:30:27] Johnny Sanders: What’s something I could do to help you feel a little bit more comfortable? Would it make you feel more comfortable if we talked about something a little bit less scary to start off with? And then we can ease our way into it. Questions like that. And just giving them that space and feedback of this is hard.

[00:30:45] Johnny Sanders: And I’m not expecting you to tell me every little detail all at once. It’s okay. Basically, just giving them permission to go at their speed. That alone goes a really long way. Because if I don’t get their [00:31:00] buy in, ultimately, it doesn’t matter what I tell them. I could give them the best advice in the whole wide world.

[00:31:06] Johnny Sanders: If they don’t trust me, it doesn’t matter. I really aim to get that rapport. That’s that first session. That’s really all I’m looking for is how can I build that rapport with them?

[00:31:20] Diana Winkler: Yeah. Trust is a big deal with survivors because people close to them are the ones that are usually their abuser, either their mother or their brother or their spouse or coach or something.

[00:31:34] Diana Winkler: And they’ve been betrayed. So. It’s, it is really hard for folks to go to a counselor and get some help regardless of who the abuser is. I’m gonna go for the jugular now. We’re Christians and, divorce is the D word in the church. When in a counseling situation,

[00:31:57] Diana Winkler: do you see that this is a [00:32:00] dangerous relationship and she needs to get to a safe place or I say she, but also he, there’s also male victims. When do you decide to say you need to separate or you need to get to a safe place?

[00:32:15] Johnny Sanders: No, that’s a great question.

[00:32:18] Johnny Sanders: And what I would say is very rarely. In fact, I’m trying to wreck my brain. I don’t know if I’ve ever uttered those exact words. I really do my best and most situations to ask questions to maybe lead in a certain way or to gauge where they’re at. As opposed to, hey, this is what’s going on. You need to do this right now.

[00:32:48] Johnny Sanders: And I do that for a few different reasons. One, again, buy in is going to be much better. If it’s their idea, they’re going to do it.

[00:32:58] Johnny Sanders: With really high [00:33:00] ferocity there because this is my idea. So that’s really what I would like to get to. There, there will be times where if it’s a The only times I guess legally that I would be, No, this has to happen right now, is if there is You know, imminent threat right that very second and even more so that we see this more so in suicidal situations.

[00:33:25] Johnny Sanders: Hey, I’m going to kill myself today. Legally I have to step in there. Gets a little bit dicier. And… domestic situations as far as where that line gets drawn sometimes as far as my legality to get you out. Because there is, it’s a little bit harder to see that as opposed to suicide where I’m going to do it right this second.

[00:33:47] Johnny Sanders: That, that really gives us that leeway to step in right that second. So that’s why again, I’d say I tried to not, if I don’t have to utter those words, you need to do X, I really try to get away [00:34:00] from that. All that being said I constantly go back to safety. Are you safe? And where I do have a lot more leeway is if there’s kids involved, are they safe?

[00:34:14] Johnny Sanders: Because if they’re not, ultimately I have to call and I’ll tell him that like legally what I just heard I have to protect these kids. I don’t have as much leeway with you, but for the kids, I have to. And I’ll let them know that and I will say like, look, from what you’re saying, I’m not a future teller, but this is what this looks like.

[00:34:39] Johnny Sanders: And if we continue down, things could get really bad and being very honest with that. And the goal there again to get them explore like, Hey, is this the road we want to go down? Do we have safe people that we can spend the night with today? Being able to ask those type of questions with the [00:35:00] hope that they start to come to some better conclusions.

[00:35:03] Johnny Sanders: That’s generally the approach that I tried to take in those situations.

[00:35:08] Diana Winkler: Yeah, that’s really a refreshing approach, actually. I don’t hear that many people that are in the Christian realm have that approach. It’s mostly if there’s any inkling of wanting to separate or they come to that conclusion, then the counselor’s job is to talk them out of it, of the separation because they want to preserve the marriage at all costs.

[00:35:34] Diana Winkler: But I think that and how should I say this? Jesus I don’t think he meant us to sacrifice ourselves on the altar of marriage, does that make sense? He cares for us as a person. He doesn’t just care about the institution of marriage. He wants us to be safe. He wants us to be living an abundant life and he cares for [00:36:00] us.

[00:36:01] Diana Winkler: So, yeah that’s where I see it.

[00:36:05] Johnny Sanders: Something that I’ll try to, especially from the Christian angle. If that’s something that my, my client really wants to operate from. Again, kind of going back into that same discussion and I’ll throw myself as an example here that I view scripture very highly and I truly believe that As the husband, as the father, that I have a lot of weight on my shoulders, that If things are not going well in the house, the answer for me, because I feel that God has made me the leader of this house is what am I doing wrong that my, my daughter’s freaking out.

[00:36:43] Johnny Sanders: She’s having a meltdown. My wife is not feeling well, that those things are going wrong. The answer is not, gosh, like what’s wrong with these people? Why aren’t they doing that? The answer is what am I doing wrong? Or what are things that I could do to help support? How can I support my wife here?

[00:36:59] Johnny Sanders: [00:37:00] How can I support my daughter to maybe encourage some healthier coping skills or something like that in those situations? That’s taking ownership because being a leader is, it’s actually very weighty. There’s times and I tell my wife that, that yeah. Like, I take the role of the leadership in the house really heavily, but there are times where I’m like, man, sometimes it would be kind of nice if I didn’t have it on my shoulders, if I took that load off. It’s a high calling and it’s one that I take very serious.

[00:37:30] Johnny Sanders: I use that example there not to say that I’m perfect and I’ll say, I messed that up all the time. I’m human just like everyone else. But I go back to, again, that foundation of scripture that I am the one that needs to lead this family. It’s not I’m the one that rolls with an iron fist and everybody does what I say just because I said it.

[00:37:51] Johnny Sanders: That, that’s not what it means to, to be a leader. That, that’s just throwing out your anger on everybody. So I like to use that [00:38:00] language to show like, okay, being the head of the house, if we want to use that language, it’s much deeper than again, just everybody do what I say. That’s everything that goes wrong in that house.

[00:38:13] Johnny Sanders: That’s at the foot of the husband there. And he needs to take that, takes that serious. And if I’m seeing a couple, and husband’s talking about, like, my wife’s doing X, Y, Z, X, Y, Z. I try to put that back. Well, what can you do to help support her better? What can you do to be to maybe change things up, to make things a little bit less tense in the house. And I use language too, of an athlete, a really skilled athlete.

[00:38:42] Johnny Sanders: Yeah. Maybe there might be some that blame everything on the refs or on their coach or whatever, but the best ones they’re going to look at, okay. We lost a day, what did I do wrong? How can I be better here? And that’s what I want men in these situations to do better, and the women that are not getting [00:39:00] that, they need to understand that, that it’s not All me here.

[00:39:04] Johnny Sanders: They’re the ones that’s kind of failing in, in these situations, any type of abuse going on, that is a male headship problem. And that needs to be addressed. I see that as much more important to be addressed. And if it’s not, yeah, maybe we have to weigh our options there. But it’s not just, get over it like stay in the marriage just to stay in the marriage.

[00:39:25] Johnny Sanders: That’s not fixing things that’s not a biblical marriage and that’s what I want. I want more biblical marriages.

[00:39:32] Diana Winkler: Yeah, everybody talks about the wife submitting and it always seems to be focused on that, but I love how you bring it to healthy leadership and Jesus was a servant above all and I think he said the example of if you’re going to be a leader, you’re going to serve, right?

[00:39:51] Diana Winkler: And that’s how, obviously we all fail in our roles, in our families, but we’re a leader. We’re to serve one another, not tell people [00:40:00] what to do.

[00:40:00] Diana Winkler: So, I know we covered a lot of stuff, but. And you sound like a wonderful person to go to, a safe person to talk to. I’d like you to give some tips to the folks who are not in your areas, Florida, Oklahoma, and Texas. How can somebody choose a counselor to help them? I mean, what are the characteristics they should be looking for?

[00:40:29] Johnny Sanders: Yeah, I actually was having this conversation actually last night with a different client because they’re moving. They’re moving to a a different state I’m not licensed in. So this is kind of fresh on my mind. First off. Is really looking at this, that you’re the one that’s in control of this decision.

[00:40:51] Johnny Sanders: I tell my clients this all the time, like, Hey, if you choose to see another counselor, that’s your decision. Like it’s honestly, it’s not going to [00:41:00] hurt my feelings. I want what’s best for you. So having that type of mindset, that almost kind of a consumer type of mindset that they work for me and not the other way around, it’s really important because it’s your life.

[00:41:16] Johnny Sanders: That counselor, it’s not their life. So just making sure that you have that part in mind, that if you try somebody out and it just, it’s not clicking. That’s okay. You can go see somebody else. Like there’s no personality, right? Exactly. It doesn’t even have to be anything major. Like the counselor could be a wonderful counselor, but it just wasn’t fitting for you.

[00:41:42] Johnny Sanders: That’s fine. Go find somebody else. And, I actually was telling this to my client, that one of the first things to start out, and it sounds kind of vain look at their picture. Does that, looking at that picture, does that seem like a warm, kind person that I feel like I could [00:42:00] share my story with? That’s a good first place to start.

[00:42:04] Johnny Sanders: I would not say to end there, but it’s important. Like, if you feel, I’ve had people all the time, particularly women that they say, Hey, like, you’re in the area, but I really feel like I want to have a female counselor. And for them, I say, good for you. Let me get you some names. So understand yourself.

[00:42:28] Johnny Sanders: See if this is somebody I feel like I can trust. And then from there. Look at their bio. Where are you finding them? A lot of people will be on psychology today. It’s kind of a big database of different counselors. Most of them are going to have a website or something. Check out the website. Go look at them.

[00:42:48] Johnny Sanders: From there, go see if they have like a Facebook page. I know that sounds kind of weird, but do it. Like if you see some public information, either on their private Facebook [00:43:00] or are there, sorry, their business Facebook or just their own personal page and you thumb through there and like, eh, I don’t think so.

[00:43:07] Johnny Sanders: Exit out and move on and don’t think about it. We don’t want to overanalyze every little thing. If those red flags are showing up, go on to the next person. And then once you’ve read that bio and it seems. Okay, I kind of liken it to somebody going on a first date, you’re not going to know everything about them maybe you see enough that seems okay, that there’s, there might be some legs there then go give it a try.

[00:43:36] Johnny Sanders: And again, If it didn’t work out, it didn’t work out. There’s plenty of other counselors out there, Tony. There’s a lot of us. So just make sure that ownership is in your hands, that you feel comfortable talking with that individual. And if you do more than likely. It’s going to be a decent fit, but if you don’t feel comfortable with them, [00:44:00] get someone else.

[00:44:01] Johnny Sanders: It really is as simple as that.

[00:44:04] Diana Winkler: So I have some people that I work with that have had therapist abuse. I know with licensing, there is a code of ethics. Can you tell the folks what those ethics are and what, if you see a therapist or a counselor doing these things, that is a big problem.

[00:44:24] Diana Winkler: Well, the biggest one, and unfortunately it has to be an issue because it’s in like every ethics continuing education course that I’ve ever taken. And we have to take them every single year, is any type of romantic, sexual relationship with any client. And that’s bad. That is absolute. No. So, if they’re even hinting something that is just they go beyond, like, you look nice and you just kind of feel those creep vibes that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re going [00:45:00] anything crazy unethical, but listen to those kind of spidey senses there.

[00:45:05] Diana Winkler: That’s bad. We, we absolutely need to have, I’m a way above reproach on that stuff. I don’t, I, and on that, like, you look nice today. I honestly don’t even say things like that for that reason. Like, I just don’t like to go there. I don’t want that to even be a thought. So anything romantic involved, bad.

[00:45:28] Diana Winkler: Another thing, and this is more of a kind of a red flag, is. Are they talking about themselves a lot? I’ve mentioned already that there’s times I do some self disclosure. I’m not saying any personal stories is inherently a bad thing. You need to be careful that they are not making it about themselves.

[00:45:54] Diana Winkler: So if you feel like, man, I was here to talk about me, not about them all [00:46:00] the time. Probably red flag. They’re probably overgoing some of those boundaries there. Another thing too is any type of fraudulent insurance billing. If you. See something that maybe on your, if you’re using insurance, that’s like, you billed me for this, but I wasn’t, I don’t remember us meeting that day.

[00:46:22] Diana Winkler: Pretty big red flag. You certainly don’t want to go down, down that road. There are many other ethics things we have to look out for. Those are icky.

[00:46:37] Diana Winkler: And something just seems off something’s probably off and every state has licensing boards. They have publicly available information. You can file a complaint at any time for any reason. And you are not held liable there. So know that you have that at your disposal because if they’re making you feel a little icky, [00:47:00] they’re probably doing that to someone else too.

[00:47:04] Diana Winkler: That’s another reason to go to a licensed counselor because you have that protection, right?

[00:47:11] Johnny Sanders: Yeah that, that’s a very big deal that to have that protection there. Exactly.

[00:47:17] Diana Winkler: And we talked a lot about a lot of different topics. Is there anything that we didn’t talk about that you wanted to say about you’re counseling there?

[00:47:27] Johnny Sanders: I would say anyone that’s listening. And I assume most here that that, that have a Christian faith, just know that while things are great and you might feel dirty, you might feel like all hope is lost. It’s not the forgiveness, the love that Christ can give all of us in him is so much higher than any earthly love.

[00:47:51] Johnny Sanders: Any earthly hurt that’s here either. So I know we can seem grim. I know it can seem hopeless and I know that hurt is real. I [00:48:00] do. It’s not a just say a prayer and get over it. Not communicating that. Don’t lose that hope once we lose that hope things get scary, they get scary really quick. So just make sure that you keep that hope.

[00:48:15] Johnny Sanders: Great advice. I really enjoyed our conversation. Now you have a podcast that You could probably tell the folks about yeah, so I initially had a podcast. So my, my counseling name is truth and grace counseling. So I originally just started it and said, it’s the truth and grace counseling podcast, just slap podcast on there.

[00:48:37] Johnny Sanders: And it was a fun little project, but it kind of turned into its own thing. And I wanted to separate it from my counseling practice. So. I began what’s called Faithfully Engaged. And the purpose of this podcast is to tackle subjects across many things. It’s not just counseling. It’s all sorts of different [00:49:00] spheres and different guests that I have on.

[00:49:02] Johnny Sanders: But the theme is that these are people that are actively engaging culture. And are not just living in anger and apathy. I approach this really from a more of a both a Christian background, although not all of my guests are Christian, and also from more of just a kind of a conservative values type of perspective.

[00:49:24] Johnny Sanders: And again, not all of my guests or listeners are conservative either. But I made this because so much conservative Christian content out there is how bad things are. And I get it there’s bad things like we’ve talked a lot about a bad about bad things that are here right now so I’m not dissing all of that so often people hear that and they get desensitized and then they just get apathetic so what’s the point of doing anything and I don’t like that I like people to be engaged I want them to do something with their lives so that’s really what the theme is. I talk about guests that are [00:50:00] actively doing something in their lives.

[00:50:01] Johnny Sanders: I try to bring some practical solutions to different things that are going in and on people’s lives. And again, being active and the things that are beyond my control, learning to let those things go. So that’s really what the theme of Faithfully Engaged is.

[00:50:18] Diana Winkler: Awesome. I hope everybody tunes into his podcast and are you taking clients that are in your states?

[00:50:28] Diana Winkler: I am. My, my caseload is always

[00:50:31] Johnny Sanders: consistently fluctuating. But on my website, truthandgracecounseling. com I’ve tried to make it pretty easy for clients that you can actually schedule just right there on the website. And it has that availability just kind of built in. And I. Able to get a kind of a neat little tool and it’s HIPAA compliant.

[00:50:49] Johnny Sanders: So it’s confidential and everything, but yeah, it makes it really simple to just sign up and you can see my schedule right there. But yeah that’s at my website, truthandgracecounseling. com.

[00:50:59] Diana Winkler: [00:51:00] Wonderful. I’ll put that in the show notes for everybody. And this was a fun conversation. We learned a lot and got some great nuggets.

[00:51:08] Diana Winkler: And I remember the name of that comedian now, Jim Gaffigan. Okay. Okay. Yeah. I’m talking about now. Yeah. He’s very funny. So thanks so much for being on the show today. God bless you and definitely keep in touch.

[00:51:25] Johnny Sanders: Absolutely. Thanks so much for having me on.

[00:51:27] Johnny Sanders: Thank you for listening to the Wounds of the Faithful podcast. If this episode has been helpful to you, please hit the subscribe button and tell a friend. You can connect with us at DSWministries. org, where you’ll find our blog along with our Facebook, Twitter, and our YouTube channel links. Hope to see you next week!

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