Words That Heal

Specializing in Individual Counseling, Women's Concerns,
and the Treatment of Anxiety, Grief, Loss, and Panic

900C Lake Street, # 2
Ramsey, New Jersey 07446
(856) 993-2814

Additional Location
6 Kings Highway East
Haddonfield, New Jersey 08033
(856) 993-2814

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Relief from Anxiety

Statistics suggest that as many as 1 person in 7 will respond to a traumatic event with heightened and persistent anxiety.

What is trauma? Some define it as a major event that most persons would find distressing, such as an assault. Others broaden the definition of trauma to include less dramatic events, such as a car accident that leaves a survivor feeling anxious and distressed months after the event.

A growing body of research supports the use of EMDR for the treatment of anxiety. EMDR, which integrates traditional psychological theories, has reduced distress for more than two million survivors of trauma over the past 15 years.

Both the Northern Ireland Department of Health and the Israeli National Council for Mental Health have named EMDR a “treatment of choice” for trauma and terrorism survivors. For further research on outcomes and efficacy see www.emdr.com and www.emdria.org.


American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM-IV (4th ed). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.

Shapiro, Francine, & Forrest, Margot Silk. (1997). EMDR: Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. New York: Basic Books.

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Conflict in the Congregation?

As you seek to minister to persons in conflict, you may want to recommend Warren’s book, Make Anger Your Ally. Dr. Neil Clark Warren, who is both a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary and a psychologist, teaches that anger is aroused in response to feeling hurt, frustrated, or afraid. He redefines anger as a physiological state of preparedness to act to remedy a situation.

Feeling angry is not, he writes, the same as behaving in a hostile way. Dr. Warren describes four common ways of mismanaging anger and identifies the consequences of hostile behavior. He thoughtfully integrates Scripture into five principles for processing angry feelings and constructively resolving a challenging situation.


Warren, Neil Clark. (1990). Make Anger Your Ally. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.

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Help for Depression

Conservative estimates suggest that 1 in 20 men, and 1 in 10 women, suffer from depression at some period in their lives. Other research suggests the incidence is much higher, with as many as 1 in 8 men, and 1 in 4 women, experiencing an episode of major depression at least once.

A person experiencing depression may benefit from talking with a counselor. The outcome research suggests that as many as 87% to 92% of persons who pursue professional help feel significantly better than they did before they began counseling.


American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM-IV (4th ed). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.

Seligman, Martin E. P. (1995). The Effectiveness of Psychotherapy. American Psychologist, 50 (12), pp. 965-974.

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Forgiveness: What Makes It Work?

You may have read “The Forgiveness Factor” by Gary Thomas in Christianity Today. If not, a copy is available online at the reference listed below.

What does forgiveness mean? Does reconciliation always need to follow forgiveness? Thomas explores these questions in his article. He also raises, and leaves the reader to answer, a third question: What makes forgiveness work inside the person who forgives?

Let me offer one idea. What if the experience of being injured ties a person in knots emotionally? What if forgiving is a way of loosening those bonds? What do you think?


Thomas, Gary. (January 10, 2000). The Forgiveness Factor. Christianity Today, 44(1), p. 38. [Available online http://www.ctlibrary.com/ct/2000/january10/1.38.html ]

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Research Supports the Power of Prayer

Believers have taught for generations that “prayer changes things.” Research supports this. The American Psychological Association devoted its January 2003 issue of American Psychologist to a summary of the more rigorous research on health and faith.

Two studies, involving a total of 1383 patients in coronary care units, revealed that persons who were prayed for daily did significantly better during their hospital stay than persons who did not receive prayer. The hospital stays of persons who were prayed for were not shorter, but the course of their treatment was better.

The research also provides support for other spiritual practices. For example, meditation has been associated with reduced blood pressure, reduced levels of stress hormones, and improved outcomes for patients with health problems. These studies on meditation demonstrate sound design and methodology, adequate to lead a reasonable person to conclude that meditation is associated with measurable health benefits.


Powell, Lynda H., Shahabi, Leila, & Thoresen, Carl E. (January 2003). Religion and spirituality. American Psychologist, 58(1), pp. 36-52.

Seeman, Teresa E., Dubin, Linda Fagan, & Seeman, Melvin. (January 2003). Religiosity/spirituality and health. American Psychologist, 58(1), pp. 53-63.

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Healthy Aging

Retirement: What Makes It Happy?

Perhaps you are already familiar with the writings of Paul Tournier, a Christian physician and author. As he grew older himself, Dr. Tournier developed a particular concern for the wellbeing of some of his aging peers.
In his opinion, based on case observation, happiness in retirement seemed to be related to:

  • a healthy personality,
  • prior experiences of enjoying play and leisure,
  • continued opportunities for personal growth, cognitive stimulation, and social life, and
  • the development of a second vocation or an avocation prior to retirement, which could be expanded and pursued upon retirement.


Tournier, Paul. (1972). Learn to Grow Old. New York: Harper & Row.


Concerned for Aging Members of Your Congregation?

Aging persons, or persons with aging parents, may find insight, comfort, and encouragement in the book Learn to Grow Old, written by the Swiss physician and psychologist, Paul Tournier. He writes with empathy of the challenges of aging, drawing from years of work with patients, and his own experience.

Tournier builds on the argument espoused in his earlier book, The Strong and the Weak. He suggests that, as persons mature, they face a choice among:
1) pursuing a superficial strength;
2) giving up; and,
3) developing a deep and true inner strength and spirituality.


Tournier, Paul. (1963). The Strong and the Weak. Philadelphia: Westminster Press.

Tournier, Paul. (1972). Learn to Grow Old. New York: Harper & Row.


Research Suggests Persons Who Attend Church May Live Longer

A recently published study of 557 older adults found that persons who attended church two or more times per week were about three times as likely to survive through a six-year period as persons who never attended church.

The increased survival rate was related to lower levels of interleukin-6 in persons who attended church at least once a week. (Low levels of interleukin-6 are associated with immunity, and elevated levels have been associated with illness.)

Even when age, sex, illness, social network, and depression were considered, the significant relationships among church attendance, interleukin-6, and mortality remained. Although a causal relationship has not been shown, it appears that more frequent church attendance is associated with heightened immunity.


Lutgendorf, Susan K., Russell, Daniel, Ullrich, Philip, Harris, Tamara B., & Wallace, Robert. (2004). Religious Participation, Interleukin-6, and Mortality in Older Adults. Health Psychology, 23(5), 465-475.

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Faith and Health

Research on Faith and Wellbeing

How is faith related to emotional health? David Myers has summarized the research on faith and wellbeing in the American Psychologist. The research defines faith in terms of behavior (such as active church involvement) or belief (in the sense of a personal faith). Faith is associated with regaining the ability to experience joy after a major loss, and with the ability to maintain emotional equilibrium when faced with ongoing life challenges. Myers’ summary suggests that churches may function to promote emotional health by:
1) nurturing a personal faith that offers individuals hope and meaning, and
2) facilitating regular access to supportive others.


Myers, David G. (January 2000). The Funds, Friends, and Faith of Happy People. American Psychologist, 55(1), pp. 56-67.

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