An inspiring ostrich egg sculpture is prominently displayed in the lobby of The Vine Counseling Center’s main office. Its shell is surrounded by shattered pieces, yet the egg is completely whole. A former client donated this sculpture to thank The Vine for their help in making her broken life whole again. The egg symbolizes the healing and hope pastoral counseling can give to a life.
Pastoral counseling is a unique form of counseling that combines both spiritual and psychological practices to promote healing and growth. Most counselors at The Vine are also ordained ministers, so they serve clients holistically, addressing both emotional and spiritual needs. Careful attention is given to counsel within the framework of an individual’s religious beliefs, while pointing them to the love of God.
Executive Director and counselor Dr. Amanda Ragland says, “I want to make God’s love known more in the world. I counsel for the thrill of seeing the Lord at work, and I am excited to be a part of it. Every time a person heals, God’s love is known that much more, and that person is then equipped to pass that love on further. There is no energy quite so contagious as a person newly healed and newly free.”
In March of 1999, The Vine Pastoral Counseling Center was established as a shared ministry of several area churches. The name of The Vine is taken from John 15:1-5. “I am the vine; you are the branches…apart from me you can do nothing.” It reflects the Center’s philosophy of being rooted in Christ while seeking to be vessels for His compassion and healing.
The Vine serves individuals, couples and families. In fact, the Center holds the highest credentials in the state of Alabama in marriage and family therapy. They also provide specialized counseling for the clergy and enrichment events for churches, bringing both healing and education to members of the body of Christ. These events include seminars, workshops and classes on a variety of topics.
“We exist to give hope to hurting people,” says Dr. Ragland. “In our individualistic society, we often feel alone. Everyone needs support while walking through hardship; problems and obstacles are handled best by working together rather than alone.”
A former client of The Vine agrees: “I totally missed the boat in the first seventeen years of marriage. If it weren’t for God and The Vine, we wouldn’t be where we are today. We are finally enjoying the kind of marriage God intended for us to have all along.”
Recently, a widow commented that The Vine was “a safe place to grieve for her husband.”
Another client said, “I’ve found freedom from depression and enjoy increasing confidence.”
Receiving counseling does not always mean that there is a severe problem. “Many people may just feel stuck and need help setting future goals,” Dr. Ragland says. The Vine’s counselors are prepared to meet individuals, families and couples where they are in life and work with them through their stress and transitions. Additionally, theological training prepares their counselors to address spiritual issues using the client’s understanding of faith.
Truly, The Vine is a channel through which God’s hope and healing flows to many in north Alabama. They have now expanded to five locations to better serve their clients. The Vine provides more than 350 counseling sessions per month and offers scholarship assistance to lower income clients; these scholarships are made possible by contributions of 24 supporting local churches and multiple donors.
The Vine makes pastoral counseling and marriage and family therapy available to every person on a sliding fee scale. The center is structured to be both available and affordable. “We are so blessed to be able to offer a high level of service at a lower cost than other counseling professionals in the area.” Dr. Ragland reflects. “This would not be possible without the loving generosity of many people.”
The Vine seeks to serve all who request counseling. To continue this ministry, the center needs ongoing financial support. If you would like to make a donation to The Vine or to make an appointment for counseling, please visit their website or call (256) 270-7399.