Pastoral Counseling

About Me

Awkward pause… Sharing myself with you. This is the intimidating part. But it wouldn’t be fair to ask something of you that I don’t have the courage to give, so here goes. I’m a hybrid: a combination pastoral counselor and highly trained psychotherapist. From this combination was born a Pastoral Psychotherapist.

As a pastoral counselor, I am grounded in Christian faith, which informs my expectation of and excitement for the emotional healing available to each of us. I operate from my belief that we alone are not enough to rescue ourselves when the pain is too great or our ditch too deep. If we could pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps, we would have long ago. But sometimes our boots are so flooded with water and mud that we need more than our own strength to break the suction of the marsh.

To my pastoral counseling foundation, I overlay my extensive, ongoing clinical training in Intensive Short-Term Dynamic Psychotherapy (ISTDP), which I use as a roadmap to help us resolve your mental health issues and spiritual issues.

Pastoral Psychotherapy: This is my “brand.” This is who I am at my best, and it’s what I do best. And I am solid in this identity. Let me help you find your solid identity, too.

Who Are My Clients?

My clients never look the same. They’re Christians and non Christians. They’re people who are undecided about faith, people who left their faith, people who know nothing about faith. They’re successful corporate executives, farmers, pastors, therapists, homemakers. But what they all have in common is wanting to get out of a “stuck,” painful position.

Kessler Bickford, Pastoral Counselor

I Am A Shame Crusader

I define shame as a grudge against the self. And no one escapes this life without a tangle with this beast. Think about someone who wronged you and the grudge you carried against them. You might have ignored them, snubbed them, ruminated about their worst qualities, hoped the worst for them, refused to forgive. But when we hold that position of self contempt and flip the grudge toward ourselves, we’re in a state of shame.

There’s a modern theory that shame is undone simply by applying empathy and compassion toward yourself. That’s like using a fly-fishing rod to hook a marlin. Shame laughs at this mind-over-matter, untenable solution.

Remember, shame is not an emotional or intellectual problem. It’s a spiritual problem, and it fully requires a spiritual solution. This is where I can help you and where ordinary therapy cannot make a dent.

The reason therapy fails is because it fails to treat the shame. You cannot break out of any emotional problem unless you wholeheartedly believe you are valuable enough, lovable enough, worthy enough to fight for. The healing has to start there or the emotional problem you’re up against will continue its chronic cycle.

Characteristics Of Shame

Where Can I Get Pastoral Counseling Near Me?

If you live in Maryland, you can find Christian counseling for your mental health issues with me, either in person or online. If you chose to have pastoral counseling sessions via virtual therapy, a computer or phone screen separates us, but it takes only moments for technology to recede and the warmth of the human experience to come forward.

What Are The Goals Of Faith Based Counseling

The goals of faith based counseling include identifying, understanding, and meeting the therapy goals of my clients. My job is to fully understand what you want out of therapy, and working together as a team, we find our way forward.

What is expected after the first few sessions?
Relief, lessened anxiety, and a fresh hope are expected after the first few sessions.

Areas Of Faith Based Counseling:

Individual Therapy

I work with individuals to help them find the root cause of their issues using both a pastoral lens and my extensive clinical training in ISTDP therapy.

Marriage & Couples Therapy

I work with couples to find the root cause of their conflict and then guide them through the process of change.

Faith Based Counseling In Maryland

As a pastoral counselor, I will:

As a pastoral counselor, I won't:


Pastoral Counseling

No, you don’t have to be religious for faith based counseling. I’ve had many clients over the years who are unaffiliated with any religion or spiritual practice.

I can’t think of anyone who should not see a faith based counselor!

One of the benefits of Christian counseling is that you can tackle a problem using your belief system and use that to lead you to and through solutions.

The difference between a Christian Counselor and a secular therapist has to do with belief systems. Christian counselors are often grounded in the belief that healing comes from God, who is the only one able to repair intangible, human emotion.

What makes faith based counseling unique is the wider and deeper healing opportunities available to the client.

Faith based counseling is remarkably effective. When The Lord is in the center of our problems and the source of our solution, all things are possible.

I'm Ready To Help You Heal