Counselor Dave Bender directs all areas of The Counseling Center at Bay City, Green Bay, WI. This includes counseling, counselor assignments, and the training and supervision of counselors. Dave does about 60% of our counseling.
He’s been working with teenagers, families, and marriages in California and Wisconsin in 1985.
He has completed two master’s degrees and has taken a particular interest in his studies in understanding the “why” of human behavior. He believes that knowing the “why” is critical to helping people. Another way of saying this is, what is the problem in a person’s “heart?” What are they struggling with at the very core of their being?
If you had a medical condition and the medical doctor couldn’t determine the problem, would you want to go back? The doctor wouldn’t can’t determine the prescription without knowing the real problem?
Similarly, knowing why people do what they do is necessary to providing a solution.
Dave’s educational background:
- MABC, The Master’s University
- MMin, Northland International University
- CCEF School of Biblical Counseling
- BS, Maranatha Baptist University
- Certified by the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors
- Family pastor at Bay City Baptist Church in 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 leads 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 hard work.
I also believe that people need to understand why they do what they do. Coming to this understanding will take us deeper than 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.
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 time and it was the result of my own inner responses and my own thoughts related to a difficult life event in about 2014. That time it probably took about a year before I felt like I was back to feeling good again. 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 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. 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.
We’re empty-nesters and I sure do miss having the kids around. We had a lot of good years together and great memories for which I’m grateful. We have two grandchildren–one was born in October of 2019 (Judah), and Caroline, below. 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 snowboarding, downhill skiing, and wakeboarding. I still enjoy doing just about anything that’s fast and fun and active, and I enjoy exercise and fitness.
I’m also a private pilot with an instrument rating, and like to fly whenever I can.