Christmas on the couch



OFFERING HELP—Therapist Jack Doman, a lay minister at St. Matthew’s United Methodist Church in Newbury Park, offers free counseling to those who need help coping with loss and depression during the holiday season. RICHARD GILLARD/Acorn Newspapers

OFFERING HELP—Therapist Jack Doman, a lay minister at St. Matthew’s United Methodist Church in Newbury Park, offers free counseling to those who need help coping with loss and depression during the holiday season. RICHARD GILLARD/Acorn Newspapers

At St. Matthew’s United Methodist Church in Newbury Park, lay minister Jack Doman knows that Christmas, traditionally a celebratory time for Christians marking their savior’s birth, can be extremely difficult for some.

For those who have lost a loved one, a job or a home over the past year, the holiday can be a major source of emotional distress, he said.

To help local residents deal with their struggle, St. Matthew’s is offering free counseling sessions to help those burdened by Yuletide despair to get through the winter festivities.

“This is not the most wonderful time of the year,” he said. “Christmas can be a heavy emotional reminder.”

Doman is a licensed therapist who’s run a counseling practice since he retired from teaching in Conejo Valley Unified in 2014.

The Newbury Park resident himself attended counseling when he was going through a personal rough patch several decades ago, and the experience inspired him to earn his counseling degree from Cal Lutheran University in 1992.

“I found a way to continue to not just survive but to thrive,” he said. “I wanted to share that with others.”

The 75-year-old Newbury Park resident works out of St. Matthew’s counseling center at the church’s campus on S. Wendy Drive in addition to having a low-fee private practice.

Debi Dyer works as a church administrator for the Newbury Park congregation. She said Doman places a high priority on building relationships with others.

“He has a heart for connecting with people, not just on a religious basis,” she said. “Through conversations, he finds out what’s important.”

Dyer said building connections between people is at the heart of St. Matthew’s.

“This church specifically focuses on relationships,” she said. “It’s been that way for a very long time.”

Doman said he’s lucky to be in a position to help others.

“I’ve been blessed that I can give back,” he said.

To schedule a consultation appointment at the church’s counseling center, call (805) 480-1167.

For more information, visit stmatthewsnp.com.