Counselor Dave Bender directs all aspects of The Counseling Center at Bay City, Green Bay, WI. This includes marriage counseling, various other kinds of counseling, counselor assignments, and the training and supervision of our counselors. Dave does roughly 65% of our overall counseling (much of this being marriage counseling, and anxiety and depression counseling).
He’s been working with teenagers, families, and marriages in California and Wisconsin since 1985 (in Green Bay since 1990).
He has completed two master’s degrees and has taken a particular interest in his life and studies in understanding the “why” of human behavior through the lens of the Bible. This understanding of the real underlying reasons for behaviors is critical in helping people.
Another way of saying this is, “What’s the deepest problem here?”
Or, “What is this person struggling with at the very core of his or her being?”
QUESTION: If you had a medical problem and the doctor couldn’t diagnose the problem, would you go back? How could that doctor provide the right prescription/solution?
In much the same way, knowing why people do what they do is critical to providing a solution.
- Master’s degree in biblical counseling
- Master’s degree in pastoral ministry
- CCEF School of Biblical Counseling
- BS, Maranatha Baptist University
- Family Pastor, Counseling Center Director at Bay City Baptist Church, Green Bay, WI.
- Managing Director of The Three Desires Seminar
An Interview With Dave
What interested you in counseling in the first place?
Well, I guess I simply saw the need. I saw how people needed someone to talk to and help them through hard times and I wanted to do something about it. Of course, that naturally lead to counseling.
What’s important to you in working with people?
People need to be heard and so I try to make sure that happens, but people also need to understand truth and apply it to their lives. It’s not easy to change, and knowing the truth is not the same as actually changing our desires and thoughts and behaviors. Change almost always takes some really hard work and dedication.
I also believe that people need to understand why they do what they do. Coming to this understanding will take us deeper than our behaviors, and even thoughts, right down to our human desires. As we train counselors here I’m also trying to emphasize those things with them so they are able to help people also.
When I consider counseling and what’s important, I also know that people in the middle of hard times are really asking three questions of their counselor even if they don’t say it out loud: Can you help me? Can I trust you? Do you care?
People need to be able to answer “yes” to all three questions in order for counseling to be successful, and so we make sure we’re ready to do that.
You’ve said you’ve had some struggles yourself. Tell me about that.
Well, I really wish I could say I’m so strong that I’ve never had any troubles, but I’m really, really human through and through. And it can be hard to be human, right?
The first hard thing I’ve dealt with is anxiety. Again, I wish I didn’t have to say that, but it’s true. It was really hard to work through it. God has helped me and now 99% of the time I don’t have any anxiety. God still keeps me on my toes though, and dependent on Him. I’m thankful to have had this struggle because it really helps me to help other people who are experiencing anxiety and other problems.
Also, I’ve been through two stretches where I had the privilege of experiencing depression. I say “privilege” because I’m so glad to have gone through it on a temporary basis.
The first experience lasted about six weeks and was the result of a short-term medication I was taking. I’ll never forget how hard that was. The feelings were so deep, and I don’t think anyone can explain it, you just have to go through it to know what it feels like. Now when someone says, “depression hurts,” I know exactly what they mean. I’m sure I wouldn’t be able to counsel others in depression effectively if I hadn’t experienced that.
There was a second experience, and this time it was the result of my own inner thinking and how I processed a difficult relationship experience in about 2014. I have a deep desire for all my relationships to be good and right, and I don’t want there to be anything between me and another person, but this situation was a hard one to work through. And just so you know, it had nothing to do with my family relationships. It was probably about a year before I felt like I was completely back. I learned a lot from that experience and haven’t been depressed again since.
Again, even though it was hard, I’m really glad I went through both of these experiences because it helps me understand more deeply what people are going through. I’d choose to go through it again if I knew it was going to be helpful in helping others.
I’m glad to say that I consistently feel positive and content and happy, which is sort of my natural disposition anyway. Sure, life can be hard sometimes, and life sure does have its pressures, but I do get up every day looking forward to that day and the days ahead.
One question people might have for me is, “Did you take any medications to help you at the time?”
The answer to that question is “no,” I haven’t taken any medications to help with any of these struggles. That’s not to say that it would have been wrong to do so, or that it’s wrong for others to do so, but I personally didn’t want an easy way out of hard times. I wanted to deal with any of the root problems that lead me there in the first place and I wanted to learn from it all.
Tell me about your family.
I’m married to Julie and she’s the best ever. She’s the only one for me and I don’t know what I’d do without her. She works as a registered nurse at St. Mary’s Hospital and I’m grateful for her in so many ways. We were married in 1986 and have three children, two girls and a boy, who are all in their 20s and 30s.
We’re empty-nesters and I sure do miss having our kids around. We had so many good years together and great memories for which I’m grateful. We have three grandchildren–Caroline, Judah, Audrey. These are probably the cutest children on the planet but other grandparents might want to argue with me about that.
What do you like to do outside of work?
Even though I don’t get to do these a lot, I do enjoy downhill skiing, hockey, and wakeboarding. I still enjoy doing just about anything that’s fun and active, and I enjoy exercise and fitness.
I’m also a pilot with an instrument rating, and a commercial pilot certificate. Looking down that long runway before takeoff, and being up in the air, is always a great experience. Never gets old.
See some of Dave’s favorite counseling articles here.
Visit the Three Desires Seminar website.