Standing with Those in Pain
A friend is in the pits of depression; a marriage on the verge of breakup; parents worried about their teenager; a relative that drinks too much. Although most of us are aware of such situations, when hearing the words “therapy” or “counseling,” we often take a suspicious step back.
Laura Cherone, on the other hand, embraces such scenarios every day. Working with and for others is her true passion. It is what God has equipped and gifted her to do, and it extends from her professional world to ministry at her church where she is a worship vocalist and sings in the choir.
Laura’s experience is widespread. She has worked in the field of counseling, corrections, chemical dependency, residential treatment, and teen and family therapy. Currently Laura is a director and psychotherapist at a nonprofit agency that offers general counseling at three area clinics and provides several other programs that address family and emotional wellness, child abuse, and domestic violence.
Seeing God move to comfort her in her own life, has influenced her to comfort others in their times of troubles, and help them experience the transforming power of Christ.
JBU: What circumstances in your life caused you to consider counseling as an occupation?
LAURA: My childhood family contributed to my greatest successes and most difficult struggles. My parents loved me and provided me with many great opportunities, but they were distracted with marital conflicts and my father’s drinking. I blamed myself for the emotional vacuum and tried to adjust my needs and feelings to measure up to parental expectations. By late teens I was drinking and by young adulthood, I was into drugs. The drug lifestyle was exciting and provided a much-needed escape from the emptiness and confusion I felt inside. Proverbs 27:7 explains, “He who is full loathes honey, but to the hungry even what is bitter tastes sweet.” I began to suffer some serious consequences which eventually caused me to realize how the rebellious drug lifestyle was contributing to my problems – not solving them. My life was out of control and it was bound to get worse unless I made some changes. With a strong will, a great deal of self-determination, a treatment program, and personal counseling, I developed the impetus to begin a process of life change and self discovery.
JBU: After deciding that you needed to make some changes, what steps did you take from there?
LAURA: I accepted a position as a counselor in a chemical dependency treatment program, helping others leave an additive lifestyle. I earned my master’s degree to pursue a career as a psychotherapist. I engaged in self improvement in many aspects of my life: education, career, diet, exercise, hobbies and activities, friends, and family relationships. I began attending church as part of my personal improvement plan, not particularly seeking anything. One evening, a church acquaintance helped me to understand the importance of a personal relationship with Jesus. Although I was interested and recognized this need, I was not ready to surrender control of my life. The idea of relinquishing self-control to Jesus seemed foolish and frightening. Although my head was against it, my heart moved me to accept Jesus that night. I reluctantly trusted Christ to show me what He had to offer.
JBU: How has your journey affected your walk with Christ?
LAURA: Over the years, I’ve learned that true recovery and personal discovery can never be found in a life lived entirely for self but only through a surrendered life. I have countless stories of the things God has shown and taught me and many examples of how Jesus has worked in my life. He strengthened my marriage, restored my health, repaired family relationships, provided comfort and encouragement during trying times and has uniquely equipped me to help others. He’s given me hope, courage, and a future.
JBU: How do you use your passion for counseling within the church?
LAURA: I believe the church has the best answers to life’s problems, yet I’ve been concerned about a lack of Christian counseling and recovery resources in our area churches. Five years ago, I became a ministry leader and helped launch a Celebrate Recovery ministry at my church. For many years I’ve held a vision for offering a professional counseling resource within my home church and last year, I started a part-time private counseling ministry there. It is a true blessing to be able to use my life experiences and past struggles along with my God-given gifts and professional skills to help others through my Christian counseling practice and the Celebrate Recovery program.
JBU: Have you ever wanted to share Jesus in your professional field and been unable to do so because your place of employment is not part of a Christian organization?
LAURA: I view my profession and workplace as a public mission field and I very much enjoy the challenges involved in my work. Although I do work full time for a secular agency, I have never found this to create any ethical problems or conflicts for me as a Christian. I have had many opportunities to share my faith with clients. In a professional counseling relationship, a therapist must learn, understand, and discuss a client’s goals, values, beliefs, and challenges because it is impossible to help someone without understanding what is important to that person, how the person views themselves, the problem, the solution, and the barriers to success. I often address questions about the meaning of life, the role of human suffering, and concepts such as hope, faith, and trust. These topics generate deep discussions about such things and often reveal a client’s confusion and desire to sort it out in a safe, nonjudgmental environment. It is always permissible for a therapist to answer questions raised by a client or to discuss topics that directly relate to the problem at hand and are important to a client.
JBU: Have you ever struggled with feeling overwhelmed by the stories you hear or in helping the people that come to you?
LAURA: No, instead I am energized by human contact and the privilege of being invited into the private, confidential inner world of another human being. I am honored to journey with another through a painful, difficult place or time. When I have opportunities to point a person to a life of faith, it’s all the more exciting! Helping someone who is stuck or troubled find freedom or witnessing a transformation process is amazing, inspiring, and fulfilling, never overwhelming. Each person is unique and so beautifully and wonderfully made! I have great respect for the strength, resiliency and courage I uncover in the people I meet through my work.
- Favorite Scripture passages: Proverbs 3:5-6; 1 Corinthians 10:13
- Favorite Books: Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis; the Bible, Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
- Favorite Hobby: Physical activity such as running, biking, golf, and yoga.
- One fun thing she likes to do with her husband: Road trips
To contact Laura:
- email: email@example.com
- For information about Celebrate Recovery at Oakwood Church in Hartland, Wisconsin, phone 262-367-1212.
- For private counseling at Oakwood Church in Hartland Wisconsin, phone Laura at 262-227-3451.