Unique Ministry Model Details

Unique Ministry Model Details:

Although I spent years becoming an effective Christian Counselor, I no longer provide counseling services.  The reason is that a relatively new and different approach is more helpful for most people, and particularly when it comes to couples seeking to build a fulfilling and exciting relationship.  Sure, there are those who need counseling before they can be ready for the services I now offer.  So, when that is the case, I make referrals and/or suggestions about how to get appropriate help from a counselor or therapist.  Perhaps those people will return when they are ready to benefit from our services.  To help explain what this new ministry is all about, I would like to distinguish between counseling, coaching, consulting, and training by using a “bicycle analogy.”

A person becomes interested in bicycles, and would like to be able to get the most enjoyment out of bicycle ownership.  He or she seeks the assistance from several different professionals:

The Consultant:  This person talks with their clients to help them determine what type of bicycle would best suit them; considers the person’s size, any physical limitations they might have, whether they want to ride on roads or trails, etc.  They help their clients make well-informed bicycle decisions.

The Counselor:  This person helps their clients get over previous bicycle trauma; to overcome various issues that might limit their ability to enjoy bicycling.

The Trainer:  This person teaches classes and workshops on the proper use of a bicycle, how to ride safely, and specific skills that will lead to bicycle enjoyment instead of bicycle frustration.

The Coach:  This person rides alongside their clients, encouraging them to ride farther, faster, and have more fun on their bicycles.  Coaches stay alongside for a while, until their clients are bicycling with great proficiency, are enjoying all that bicycling has to offer, are achieving their bicycling dreams, and are setting even higher achievable bicycling goals.

Treasured Relationships will provide 3 of the 4 services described above, except it will relate to marriage instead of bicycles:

Consulting:         When a potential client (defined as an individual or a couple together) participates in a free “Discovery/Strategy Session”, the goal is to determine what approach would be the most beneficial for them.  Clarifying their desires, needs, and requirements for their relationship is part of this.  The more people are able to clarify what they want, the better they will be able to move toward it.  We assume that everyone has a past, but we do not delve into their past.  We do not ask about the dirty-rotten things they have done to each other in the past.  That would be moving into the counseling mode.  We are future-focused, so our goal is to look at what is achievable for them in the future, to determine what services are a good fit for them, and to help them decide on their best way forward.  Therefore, if they need training, they will be given opportunities to meet this need through both in-person training events and through online study courses to take at their own pace.  If they need coaching, they will have the opportunity to engage in a coaching agreement for either 4 or 6 months.  Consulting will be free of charge.

Training:              (a) In-person training events will be offered through churches (and possibly other organizations) with several possible formats.  This could be a series of one-night-a-week classes; an intensive couples’ weekend retreat either at a remote location (overnight stay) or right in the church (couples go home at night); or perhaps two or three Saturdays in a row, for example.  The details will be worked out with the hosting churches.  Participants will be charged a fee to cover the cost of the materials they will be given.  Some of these training events will be a public-service offering, with no money going to the presenter(s).  Other events will be a fee-for-service arrangement, perhaps paid for by the host church as a benefit for their members and outreach to the community.  Our goal is to make all the training events as affordable as possible and still cover our expenses.

(b) Online training is available for coaching clients now, through their private section of the website.  This is an individually-paced, self-help course.  It combines video-based and downloadable workbook-based training; and consists of 12 lessons, each about an hour in length.  The online training contains instruction in key relationship skills, practical strategies for building great marriages, and Scriptures having to do with each subject covered.  Having online training helps by maximizing our individually focused time together in the coaching session appointments.  The goal is to use as much of our time together in sessions to focus on supporting my clients to reach their own specific goals.  There is no additional charge for the online training for coaching clients.  Coaching clients will have access to this training, or any updated training that may replace it, for as long as Treasured Relationships exists (hopefully longer than my lifetime).

(c) An online training course is under development and will be made available to anyone who wants to enroll.  This is the training offered to coaching clients, above, which I am refining and improving as I make it into a stand-alone self-help program to be offered outside of the coaching situation.  (Coaching clients will have access to the latest tweaks to this course as I work on it.  Each newly revised segment will replace the existing segments, as this is an ongoing project.  All current or past coaching clients will be notified when a new version is available.)  There will be a fee for this course, and once enrolled a person/couple will have unlimited access to the course for one year.  The course will have a separate section of the website dedicated to it, and each participant will have their own private login code, just as coaching clients now have.  My goal is to launch this course by late spring of 2016.  Subjects covered in the course are:
1.  Marriage foundation: a model of Christian marriage
2.  Danger signs in relationships
3.  Handling conflict and communicating well (2 effective models to try: (a) Communication map, and (b) Reflective listening (aka "The Speaker-Listener Technique))
4.  Perception: "Filters" and their role in communication
5.  Beliefs and expectations
6.  Events, issues, and hidden issues
7.  Understanding and deepening commitment
8.  Setting and sticking to relationship priorities
9.  Forgiveness of self and others
10.  Sex in the Biblical marriage
11.  Theology of marriage
12.  Establishing your intentional marriage model (based on your faith, your personalities, your unique selves)

Relationship Coaching:                 Relationship Coaching is a life-changing process.  Couples in conflict stop “fighting” with each other and start working together to address each other’s needs, wants, and desires.  Couples who are not in conflict, and yet are also not connecting well and may feel "stuck", quickly begin to connect emotionally as they start moving forward.  Roadblocks to healthy communication are identified and eliminated.  Commitment is deepened.  Intimacy (very different from sex) grows dramatically as it becomes safe to openly share and deep emotional connections are developed.  Couples naturally choose a higher degree of romance as these other changes take place.  It is no surprise, then, when the sexual relationship is greatly enhanced (as both a by-product of the relationship growth, and as a conscious choice out of desire to meet the other’s needs as completely as possible).  The way a couple lives out their lives together takes on a new dimension.  There is a spiritual dimension to this growth as well, which is very exciting.  When all this comes together, I call it “Radical Christian Marriage.”

Some couples have very stable relationships already, but lack true fulfillment in their marriage and feel that something is missing.  Others might look up to them and hope to have a marriage "that good" someday.  But an honest evaluation might put them at a “4” on a 1-5 scale.  It is great to be at a “4 “, especially if they were previously at a "2", but they are only one step away from awesome!  So why not set their sights on the “5”?  Moving into “Radical Christian Marriage” brings a level of connection they probably never dreamed possible.

Other couples love each other but can hardly live with each other.  Perhaps they are at a "2” on the 1-5 scale.  If they stay at this level for a while, they might slide to a “1”, become miserable, and begin to believe there is no hope for their relationship.  They want to make the marriage work, but are clueless about how to make that happen.  To talk about “Radical Christian Marriage” with these couples doesn't connect because that is so far from what they are experiencing that it seems impossible.  These couples need to walk before they can run!  They might even need to crawl before they can walk.  For these couples, we have to go back to the basics and teach relationship skills that work, strategies to put those skills into practice, and help them understand that feelings follow action.  If they wait until they feel like doing the right stuff before doing it, they will not likely move forward.  Instead, they need to start doing what works even though they don’t feel at all like doing so.  Before long the feelings they crave will begin.  It can be a real challenge to get these couples over that first hurdle, but then their whole outlook changes.  When we get them to a “3”, they think they have arrived!  They have never known that marriage could be this great, and there are still two higher levels to reach for.  I have worked with hundreds of couples who have gone from a "1" to a "4" in well under a year.  Most of these couples have been fairly young and have been married only a few years, so they needed some time before reaching level "5" could be a reasonable expectation - but they got on track for reaching their "5" in due time!

It is sad but true that the great majority of couples who throw in the towel and choose divorce could instead choose to have great marriages.  Those who divorce have not solved the problem, because “doing marriage” all wrong does not teach us how to do it right.  Instead, they usually change partners and pretty well follow the same pattern again.  Doing the same thing again and expecting different results is nuts!  There is a fee for relationship coaching, but it is not nearly as expensive as a divorce!  Getting a divorce in NC takes a full year, and those couples have created additional challenges to be overcome.  Even from the purely practical standpoint, this makes sense!  In the great majority of the cases, divorce is not the answer; although there are some rare situations where there may be no other option.

Relationship Coaching for Couples supports couples as they implement permanent behavioral change, learn and perfect relationship-building skills in their own marriage, and enter a whole new dimension of oneness together.  It is unrealistic to expect that anyone will make permanent behavioral changes overnight, but neither does it take “forever.”  Coaching services are offered in individual couple sessions and in group sessions.

(a)    Groups will be set up through local churches, in their facilities.  Groups will be held one evening per week for two months.  They will include a period of training followed by a period of coaching.  Strict guidelines concerning confidentiality and respect of others will be followed.  Group coaching does not provide the same level of detailed attention as individual coaching, but the benefit can be tremendous.  Besides providing basic training in relationship skills that work and support as couples implement changes, this also gives couples an introduction to the coaching process at a very reasonable cost.  Couples who move from a group setting to an individual coaching arrangement have the advantage of having received much of the training in advance, and of already identifying the areas where growth is needed the most.  If they enter into an individual coaching agreement within 30 days of completing the group process, they will have the option of choosing a special 3-month coaching program designed specifically for group coaching graduates.

(b)   Individual/Couple Coaching offers much greater attention from the coach and is tailored directly for the client’s needs and their vision for their relationship.  To be the most effective, we focus as much as possible on the coaching process and seek to get the training aspect done outside of the coaching sessions.  A realistic expectation is that this is a 4 to 6 month process for most couples.  It takes at least 4 months for a couple to fully integrate great relationship-building skills into their marriage to the point where these new behaviors simply come natural for them.  (It could be quicker if there were only one change needing to be made, or if there were only one person making changes.)  In the real world, each of us likely have more than one area where we could benefit by doing things differently!  From this point most couples can continue to make significant growth on their own, without the need for ongoing support.  However, sticking with the process for another 2 months should enable them to move well into the “blissful” or “Radical Christian Marriage” mode much quicker than if they do not have the ongoing support.  It is entirely possible for a “struggling” (currently at a level "2" out of "5") Christian couple who are motivated to do the work of marriage enrichment to reach “Radical Christian Marriage” in half a year (with appropriate training and support/guidance), assuming they do the work that is required for transformational change.

Individual/Couple Coaching Details:  In this approach, the clients get the full attention of their coach, and the process is very much personalized to meet their unique situations, personalities, challenges, etc.  There are 3 options for coaching packages:  (a) 3-month packages for couples who have completed a group coaching program, (b) 4-month packages, and (c) 6-month packages.  Sessions are about 1 hour in length each, and typically once per week.  However I am these peoples' coach all the time and provide additional support between official weekly sessions.  Clients will utilize a secure portal on the Treasured Relationships website, with a separate section for each couple.  A login PIN will be used for that specific couple, providing a maximum amount of confidentiality.  There will be a variety of tools and forms already posted on each couple’s section of the website, such as a “Call Strategy Tool” for preparation for the sessions, a “Post-Session Recap Tool” for follow-up after the sessions, and a variety of worksheets that will be posted there for their use, depending on their specific needs and goals.  Shortly after each session, the couple will receive an MP3 recording of the session (for review or archiving as they desire).  They will have online access to “Just In Time Coaching” via the private client portal for those instances when they need a little assistance with short notice; and will have a variety of resources such as the online training course on their private client portal as well.

Coaching sessions are conducted remotely, which means that no-one has to spend time in the car traveling to an appointment.  I utilize a conference line that can be called into by telephone, or connected into with a computer or other electronic device (if your device does not have a microphone and speakers, a headset can be used).  The technology is easy to use, and enables us to meet even if the husband is in one location; the wife is in another location, and the coach is in still another location.  We can even "meet" if we happen to be thousands of miles away!

We all have busy schedules, go on vacation occasionally, become overwhelmed at work or with family issues, etc.  Therefore, coaching packages are designed for maximum flexibility.  Clients will book their own appointments for sessions by logging in and selecting one of the available time slots on my calendar.  As soon as they select a time slot, it becomes unavailable (and invisible) to others.  They can change an appointment online as well, so long as it is changed 24 hours or more in advance.  This frees up that time slot for someone else.  Available time on the calendar is posted every Monday for the following 2-3 weeks.

For all coaching packages, there is a 30-day money-back guarantee.  If a client shows up and participates in at least 3 sessions over the first 30-days of their coaching agreement; and then decides that Relationship Coaching is not for them, I will give them a full refund.  This does not include the free “Discovery Session” which takes place before there is a coaching agreement in place, the “clock” starts at the first actual coaching session.  In the event that a person fails to “show up” for our sessions together, I will not give a refund.  This is because I can’t help someone who doesn't engage in the process, and by having this policy I strongly encourage participation.  This is an effective way to ensure clients follow through in that first stage of the change process.  Rare exceptions exist to this rule, such as medical emergencies or other unforeseen circumstances.  If you get hurt in a car wreck and are unable to continue, for example, of course I will let you out of the agreement without penalty.  Just let me know what is going on!  Occasionally circumstances come up when clients need to take a break from the coaching process, and then resume afterwards.  This is not ideal because they will likely lose momentum, but it may not be able to be avoided.  So we will work it out in the best way possible.  Life happens, and staying flexible is often the key to success.

If a couple signs up for coaching over a certain amount of time and then decides they want even more time, we will figure that out on a case-by-case basis.  One possibility is to simply extend on a month-to-month basis.  Another possibility is to extend with one or two sessions per month for a few months instead of a full every-week arrangement.  I will do everything I can to help couples be as successful as possible in their relationships.  So long as they are moving forward, making progress, and achieving measurable growth in their marriage, they are right on schedule.  There is no such thing as being behind schedule!  They will be on schedule because it is their schedule and they are moving forward instead of staying stuck.  This is their unique marriage and their journey together.  We do not impose a schedule on them, but if anyone expects to go from a barely surviving marriage to a “Radical Christian Marriage” in a month or two, that would be a very unrealistic expectation.  This is a process which takes a little time and effort. 

When coaching is done properly, it is time-consuming for the coach.  There is a limit to my time, particularly when you consider that I am also leading classes and workshops for churches, group coaching sessions, networking with pastors and other church leaders, developing curriculum, writing articles for the media, engaging in speaking engagements, etc.  Therefore, I will limit active coaching clients to 12 clients at any given time.  (A married couple counts as one client.  God says you are one, so we are going with that.)  When the coaching schedule is full, there will be a waiting list.  As openings come up, the first potential client on the waiting list will be contacted to see if they are ready to begin.  If they want to let someone else take that spot, they will remain at the top of the list and the second potential client will be given the opportunity, etc.

I can show people what the Bible teaches about marriage, according to the living God who came up with the marriage idea in the first place.  I can teach very specific evidence-based skills that work together to build great relationships.  I can provide time-proven strategies to use to enhance marriage.  And I can coach couples in the process of all of these things that are new at first becoming natural and automatic for them.  All of this is actually simple, like riding a bicycle is simple.  But there is a difference between simple and easy, so people should expect some of it to be hard to do at first.  Just like the first time you rode a bicycle it was not easy to do.  But with a little instruction and coaching you became proficient at bicycling.  We can become proficient at marriage as well, and all of life will change when we do.

For pastors and other church leaders reading this who would like to partner with me, I welcome the opportunity to meet in person to discuss how our ministries might be able to work together.  Besides the programs discussed above, I am prepared to offer programs for singles and for engaged couples preparing for marriage.  My expertise and experience is not solely with marriage enrichment and coaching, and these additional ministries will be a regular part of Treasured Relationships in the future.  In “stage 1“ of launching this ministry, I am focusing of helping Christian marriages to thrive simply because I can’t launch everything at once while I am the only full-time staff member.  But I am also more than willing to tweak the plan if that is needed to best meet the needs of the local churches who catch this vision and see the potential for this ministry.  Please call me at (910) 526-5045 or email me at treasuredrelationships@gmail.com to set up a time to meet in person so that we can talk about me becoming a resource person to expand and enhance your ministry.  Let's work together to the glory of God as we meet the deepest needs of God's people!




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“Most Valuable Decision”

Prior to coaching with Dave, I would lay awake at night worrying about our relationship struggles.  There were haunting questions about what could I have done differently to prevent the demise of the relationship and what could I do to improve the relationship, if possible.  That was when a decision to get help to put things into perspective had to be made.  The decision to seek coaching was one of the most valuable ones I have ever made.  Dave was very approachable and understanding.  His responses to my questions and issues seemed to always be on target.  The experience made sense to me in that he did not spout psychobabble or give a canned response learned from a book.  I deeply appreciated the fact that he genuinely listened, was reflective and thought provoking.  Now we have made much better decisions, moved on from the past, and gained a greater sense of peace which is very helpful.  Now we are doing well, are very happy, and continue toward building a great marriage.

      Larry P., Jacksonville, NC