Soul Care Conference

Enriching • Engaging • Refreshing

A Gathering for Faith + Mental Health

You’re Invited! The Soul Care Conference is designed to inspire and train at the unique overlap of faith and mental health.

Workshops and group sessions will offer ministry leaders, counselors, parents, couples, and educators an opportunity to expand their knowledge on soul care practices and counseling insights. 

Clinicians and mental health professionals are invited to attend the Soul Care Conference and receive 2 Continuing Education credits. 1 CE credit will be provided for Sessions 1 and 2.

Learn faith-based mental health concepts and strategies for soul care.

Connect with leaders and experts in the space of Christian counseling.

Be a part of the initiative to break the stigma and create conversation around mental health.

Dr. Robert Crosby, Emerge President, will be addressing the theology for Soul Care Practices.

Soul Care Conference

Thursday, October 19

Emerge Counseling Ministries
900 Mull Ave • Akron, OH

Registration at 8am
Conference begins at 9am

50th Anniversary Celebration Gala

Thursday, October 19

Gala begins at 6:30pm

Hilton Fairlawn Ballroom
3180 W Market St • Akron, OH

Conference Speakers

Dr. Robert Crosby


Robert Crosby, PhD is a ministry leader, author, and speaker, and serves as the President/CEO at Emerge. With his wife, Pamela, he is also the founder of, writing and teaching on marriage and parenting. Together, they have pastored churches in New York, Ohio, and Massachusetts.

Dr. Crosby holds a Doctor of Ministry degree from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and recently completed a PhD from Regent University.

He is a contributing writer to Outreach Magazine and Christianity Today, and has written several books including The Teaming Church: Ministry in the Age of CollaborationMore Than a Savior, and The One Jesus Loves. His newest book was written in collaboration with Samuel Rodriguez and is entitled, When Faith Catches Fire. He and his wife also co-wrote a book on marriage, The Will of a Man & The Way of a Woman: Balancing & Blending Better Together.

The Crosbys conduct conferences and retreats on leadership, marriage, and family life. They have appeared on CBN, Focus on the Family, and several other radio and television programs.

Dr. Donald Lichi

Vice President Emeritus

Donald A. Lichi, PhD is a licensed psychologist and currently serves as the Vice President Emeritus at Emerge. As an expert in faith-based mental health, Dr. Lichi has taught as a professor, spoken at numerous conferences, published several articles, served on ministry boards, and ministered around the world.

His educational background includes a B.S. in Education from Nyack College, a M.S. in Counseling from the University of Akron, and a Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Akron.

Throughout his career, Dr. Lichi has taught as adjunct professor with Trinity International University (IL), the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary (AGTS), the Asia Theological Center (Singapore), and All Nations Theological Seminary (Malawi, Africa). He also taught for six years in the graduate school at the University of Akron. He was in private practice for over five years, taught school, and directed a school-based counseling program for six years. While in the United States Air Force, he served for three years in Italy and three years in Alaska. He has been a speaker at numerous conferences and workshops on pastoral health, Christian education, parenting, marriage, and family issues. He has published several articles on Christian mental health, and is the co-author of the book, Broken Windows of the Soul (Moody Press).

Dr. Lichi’s clinical specialties include: Marriage and Family, Pre/RE-Marriage Assessment & Adjusting, Blended Families, Training, Professional Development, Graduate Education, Wounded Warrior (U.S. Military) for PTSD: Attachment, Addictions, Crisis, Grief, Life Transitions, and Clergy/Missionary Assessment & Care.

Recent ministry has taken him to India, Brazil, Thailand, Ecuador, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Romania, China, Malaysia, Russia, Hungary, Nicaragua, and Singapore. Currently, he serves on the pastoral teaching team of the Akron Chinese Christian Church and the board of Emmanuel Christian Academy, which ministers to “at risk” children in the inner city of Akron, OH.

Best of all, he is married to Marcie and they have three adult children and eight grandchildren.

Dr. David Blankenship

Director of Clinical Services

Dr. David Blankenship, PhD, LPCC-S has over 18 years of clinical experience as a licensed counselor and has been licensed in multiple states with a wide range of clientele. As an educator he has taught at the master’s and doctoral level, and as a researcher he has authored and co-authored several publications.

Dr. Blankenship has been licensed in Tennessee, Alabama, and Ohio with experience working in outpatient therapy, intensive outpatient therapy, inpatient hospitalization, partial hospitalization, and a residential treatment center with years of experience in each setting. He has also spent years working with children, adolescents, adults, geriatric, and autism spectrum disorder clientele.

He was the owner of Freedom Source Counseling, LLC, a private counseling practice from 2017–2020. His areas of proficiency are in trauma and anxiety with training in rapid resolution therapy and other advanced trainings.

Dr. Blankenship has taught 14 different CACREP-accredited master’s level courses and three doctoral-level courses at the University of Akron in the School of Counseling from 2013–2020, as well as supervised many counselors-in-training. He has simultaneously taught at Youngstown State University in the Department of Counseling, School Psychology and Educational Leadership from 2016–2018.

His research is currently focused on integrating cognitive neuroscience in counseling, diagnostic accuracy, and effective treatments for trauma. Dr. Blankenship has a co-authored publication titled “Racial disparities in psychotic disorder diagnosis: A review of empirical literature” with the World Journal of Psychiatry receiving over 30 citations in the first four years, and one solo publication titled, “Five recommended efficacious treatments for posttraumatic stress disorder: An empirical review” with the Journal of Mental Health Counseling. In addition, he has three publication manuscripts awaiting finalization for submission.

He is currently the Director of Clinical Services at Emerge Counseling Ministries in Akron, Ohio. He has been married to his beautiful wife, Stephanie, for 14 years and has two boys, Josiah and Asher.

Dr. Richard Serbin

Licensed Psychologist

Dr. Richard Serbin, PhD, is a licensed psychologist at Emerge, ordained minister with the Assemblies of God, and a charter member of the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC). He has trained or collaborated with organizations such as the V.A. Medical Center in Atlanta, Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Services, and the Atlanta Center for Cognitive Therapy.

Dr. Serbin’s educational background includes a B.S. in Psychology from Evangel University, a M.A. in Psychology from Georgia State University, and a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Georgia State University.

His clinical interests include couples and family relationships, sexual concerns, addictions, identity and spiritual formation, grief/loss, anxiety disorders (particularly Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), mood disorders (e.g. depression), and psychological assessment.

In addition to being a charter member of the AACC, Dr. Serbin is also a member of the Christian Association for Psychological Studies (CAPS) and the Society for Personality Assessment (SPA).

Dr. Serbin’s clinical trainings and certifications include:

  • Advanced Rorschach Tutorial with John E. Exner, PhD and Barry Ritzler, PhD
  • Clinical Application of MMPI-2 and MMPI-A with James N. Butcher, PhD
  • Cognitive Behavior Therapy
  • EMDR I
  • Essentials of Emotional and Spiritual Care
  • Family Therapy with Virginia Satir, MSW
  • Formational Prayer Training
  • Relationship Training with John Gottman, PhD

He is also a public speaker and presenter, and a Celebrate Recovery ministry leader.

Conference Schedule

Registration/Doors Open
Session 1: A History of Christian Counseling and the Role of Counseling in the Church Today
Dr. Donald Lichi
1 CE credit
Session 2: Transformation Through Experiential Truth
Dr. Dave Blankenship
1 CE credit
Session 3: Embodying Identity: Engaging A Thoughtful Conversation with Grace
Dr. Rick Serbin
Q&A Session
50th Anniversary Celebration Gala
at the Hilton Fairlawn Ballroom

Join us after the conference

50th Anniversary Celebration Gala

6:30pm • Hilton Fairlawn Ballroom (Akron, OH)

An evening celebrating our history and partnerships, including our keynote speaker, Anne Beiler, the founder of Auntie Anne’s Pretzels and long-time supporter of Emerge, plus much more. An event you won’t want to miss.

Anne Beiler

Founder, Auntie Anne’s Pretzels

Auntie Anne Beiler is best known as the founder of Auntie Anne’s®, the world’s largest pretzel franchise. But before rising to success, Anne went through years of defeat, despair, and depression that kept her stuck in a place of darkness. It was through her pain, however, that she discovered a new purpose and now speaks to audiences on leadership, purpose, and the power of confession.

Jonas and Anne’s peaceful life as newlyweds and young parents went into a tailspin after the death of their 19-month-old daughter, Angela Joy, who died tragically in a farming accident in 1975. Anne, in her mid-20s at the time, found herself descending into a world of darkness and depression, and eventually on the brink of suicide. Despite being a faithful churchgoer, she didn’t feel she could share her pain with friends or family members. She became silent and lost her voice.
Jonas and Anne drifted apart. They didn’t know how to talk about the deep pain they were both experiencing. Instead, they remained silent partners who simply lived together and went through the motions of family life.

Anne sought counsel from her pastor, who used the vulnerability of her grief to manipulate and abuse her for more than six years. This abuse of spiritual power propelled Anne into intense pain, blame, and shame that she thought would kill her.

After confessing all of this to her husband, Jonas and Anne sought counseling and began a journey towards healing. The Beiler’s reconciled as God restored their marriage. Through the repair of their own marriage, Jonas found himself wanting to help others that were suffering from the same despair and hopelessness. He had a vision of offering free counseling services to their community.

To support Jonas’ vision to help others, Anne bought a concession stand in 1988 at a busy farmers’ market in Downingtown, Pennsylvania. Their soft pretzels were a hit and Auntie Anne’s® was born.

Out of her pain came a purpose to help others. As Anne grew Auntie Anne’s into the world’s largest pretzel franchise, she continued to deal with depression and defeat. She felt the secrets she kept inside of her were keeping her in darkness, and she desperately wanted to find freedom and healing.

So, she began to confess. She shared her story publically – the good, the bad, and the ugly – and something amazing happened. She felt lighter. She started to feel freedom. Anne continued to share her story whenever she could, and as she did, she was able to work through all the issues that tormented her – guilt, shame, pain, anger, depression, and the list goes on.

Anne discovered a new view of confession and a new passion to help other women experience the same freedom she does.

In 2005, Anne sold Auntie Anne’s to speak to audiences on leadership, purpose, and the power of confession.

Gala Menu

House Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette and White French (GF)

Main Entree
Grilled Top Sirloin (GF) with a Peppercorn Demi Glaze
Served with Creamy Risotto and Broccolini (GF)

Vegetarian Option
Grilled Portabella Mushroom Vegetable Stack

Dessert – Turtle Cheesecake


Conference Only

$ 49 per person

Gala Only

$ 49 per person

Conference + Gala

$ 69 per person
Best Value

Due to a local winter storm warning, Emerge Counseling Ministries will be closed Friday, January 19th and will reopen pending improved weather conditions. We are offering telehealth appointments only pending the clinician’s availability to do so.