Support Groups

Support Groups

Welcome to RiverLakes Counseling Ministries, where you will find encouragement to help you find and follow Jesus through the transitions, challenges and struggles of life.  We are a ministry to hurting people encouraging them with the Hope of Christ,  so that they can be reconciled to God and to others. Whether you’re in the midst of a crisis, having to confront a challenge, or searching for spiritual direction, our ministry offers a friendly face of understanding and practical assistance.  By applying Biblical truths to everyday difficulties, you can learn to live a life full of joy that pleases God.

-Dr. Brent Van Elswyk, Pastor of Families,

Counseling and Support / Teaching Pastor


Giving Opportunity 

People Encouraging People

Trained lay counselors serve as a crucial lifeline to hurting people to provide hope, support and encouragement. Meeting with a lay counselor in a safe, accepting environment may assist an individual in overcoming the obstacles that are in front of them, with the ultimate goal being to point them to a closer, life changing walk with Jesus.  

Since its inception in 2002, the People Encouraging People ministry of RiverLakes Community Church has also been providing lay counselor training. Over the course of about 2 years, potential lay counselors attend 3 phases of training, obtain psychological testing, and participate in an interview process. Additionally, Consultation and Ongoing Education is provided on a regular basis to assist counselors with learning new techniques and counseling constructs, many of which are used directly in counseling sessions, as well as for the personal growth of counselors. 

When you make a donation to RiverLakes Community Church, which supports the People Encouraging People ministry, not only does your gift go toward providing valuable resources used for training and education for counselors, but it impacts the lives of people living right here in the Bakersfield community and the Church-at-large. Any gift of any size is significant in helping us be People Encouraging People.

Thank you for your contribution!


Women of HOPE

Women of HOPE

Women with CancerWomen of HOPE is for women who have received, or have the possibility of, a cancer diagnosis. Get connected with another woman who can offer information and resources, friendship and understanding, knowledge and compassion. We would be honored to support you during this time in life. Please call Carolyn at 661.324.2914 or join us in the Community Center Board Room at 6:30pm for support and prayer.

Carolyn (661.324.2914) and Karen (661.204.4335)

Community Center Board Room

DivorceCare for Men & Women

DivorceCare for Men & Women

Biweekly Divorce Recovery Group:  DivorceCare 2022-2023 is a DVD/Workbook seminar and recovery group for men and women who are divorced. If you are going through the pain of a marriage breakup, find help in a warm, caring environment with people who understand. Learn practical information and find hope for your future! Held most alternate *Thursday evenings from 6:00 - 8:00pm beginning September 22, 2022 through March 23, 2023 in the Community Center, Room 121 (off the North Lot). Contact Matthew & April at to enroll.  Course fee is $25 at the door (correct cash or check payable to RCC). Start anytime Sept- Jan. Group officially closes January 26. Childcare may be provided by prior registration only. To request (no fee) childcare, email: .

*Series dates are: 9/22/22, 10/6/22, 10/20/22, 11/3/22, 11/17/22, 12/1/22, 12/15/22, 12/29/22, 1/12/23, 1/26/23, 2/9/23, 2/23/23, 3/9/23, 3/23/23.

Surviving the Holidays is a Sunday event on October 16, 2022, from 3:00-5:00pm.



Grief Recovery Series:  GriefShare is a weekly seminar and support group for men and women grieving the death of someone close.  It’s a place to be around people who understand what you are feeling. Work through your grief and renew your hope as we journey from mourning unto joy on Sundays in Community Center Room 120 (off the North Lot) from 3:00 – 5:00pm, January 8 - April 2, 2023. To sign up, email George & Donna at or call the Church at 589-9733 x222.  $25 at the door for materials. Join anytime.

Watch for October seminar days: Loss of a Spouse and Surviving the Holidays.

Remembrance Service is offered every December. 

Not Alone: “Captives Free” for Women

Not Alone: “Captives Free” for Women

Not Alone: "Captives Free" for Women Affected by their Mate’s Sexual Brokenness. Confidential support and encouragement. Whether your mate is involved in pornography, physical or emotional adultery, or other forms of sexual acting out, this Christ-centered group incorporates spiritual discipline, accountability and prayer for those enduring sexual infidelity. You need not suffer alone. Join other women who also want to be “Captives Free”. Call Diane at (661) 204-2499 for further information.  Childcare available by previous arrangement only.  Materials fee. Start anytime August – May. 

Sexual Addiction Exposed: For Men Only

Sexual Addiction Exposed: For Men Only

Sexual Addiction Exposed:  For Men Only.  Expose the darkness and develop tools to prevent lapse and relapse. Pure Desire curriculum confronts sexual bondage, associated struggles and family system issues. Learn to live and love in the light Christ. Call Gilbert anytime at (661) 319-3910 for further information or contact the Church Office at (661) 589-9733 x222.  No childcare available. 

Passionate Hearts

Passionate Hearts

Hope, Help & Healing for Women

Passionate Hearts Ministry offers a variety of Christ-centered, curriculum-based, highly confidential settings for adult women. 

Were you wounded by childhood sexual abuse? Are you wanting to defeat disordered eating? Do you long for emotional health and wish for heart-connections? Have you wondered how to overcome the bondage of dysfunctional relationships? Come and discover a better understanding of who God created you to be. 

Passionate Heart Ministry offers these support groups this fall. If interested call (661) 331-3392 and leave a confidential voice message. Preregistration is required by August 30. These groups are Christ-centered, curriculum-based, highly confidential for women 18 years or older. Space is limited. Materials fee $50. Childcare by is offered by prior arrangement only.

More info:

Call by August 30 to request registration in any of the following groups:​

Passionate Hearts: For women wounded by childhood sexual abuse

We are a safe place for women to tell their stories and assess and overcome wounding, helping them become thriving survivors. We’ll help them explore the beliefs developed during abuse and how the beliefs impacted their lives. We help them identify and replace faulty beliefs with Biblical truth and give the freedom to wrestle with God and His sovereignty over their lives.  We explore what it means to passionately love God, others, and themselves so that they can see their story, painful and ugly as it is, us a part of God’s beautiful redemptive story.

If you were victimized by childhood sexual abuse or rape and want more information about this group leave a message at (661) 331-3392.

Courageous Hearts: For women in recovery for all types of eating disorders, both clinical & subclinical

We explore the physical damage caused by their choices, their denial systems, root causes of food issues, and the distorted thinking processes used. We also explore emotional, relational, and spiritual damage and provide practical tools to help overcome these.  If they struggle with disordered eating, distorted body image, or are trapped in patterns of yoyo dieting, they can benefit from studying this material with us. The group can remove the shame of struggling with food issues as you depend on God for healing.

If you struggle with an eating disorder and want more information on this group leave a message at (661) 331-3392.       

Feeling Hearts: For women who would like to learn more about the emotions in their lives

God created them to feel emotions that give valuable information about their hearts, world, and perceptions. Because of The Fall, people mishandle, misread, repress, suppress, avoid, deny, or act out of their feelings in inappropriate ways, which can rob them of heart connections. This groups helps women understand emotions are not unimportant, inappropriate, or shameful and will give them the power to live a more authentic life experience a deeper sense of community by helping you to form heart connections.

If you would like to learn more about how emotions affect the way you live and want information on this group leave a message at (661) 331-3392.   

Invisible Hearts: For women recovering from multiple past issues

This group will address most all areas of abusive challenges including verbal, neglect, physical, spiritual, and growing up in a home with mental illness issues. We also cover the wounding from growing up in a home with mental illness and addictions and discuss the impact of shame, powerlessness, cognitive distortions, and the core beliefs that form within abusive relationships. Women can verbalize pain, stories, and questions in a safe place where Gods’ love and sovereignty for the wounded is explored. They will learn to relate to others in healthy ways.

If you were a victim of emotional abuse and want to understand its impact and work toward healing, leave your message requesting more information at (661) 331-3392.

Loving Hearts: For women who desire to understand and overcome dysfunctional relationships

This group explores topics such as: living with a distorted sense of reality and responsibility, control issues, loneliness, codependency and unresolved wounds. You will examine the roots of dysfunction by exploring topics like love hunger, living with addicts, abuse, and families bound by legalism and shame. They learn to overcome dysfunctional relationships by understanding the call to love as Jesus loves and the heart issues that hinder that. We will also talk about the art of building mutual relationships, loving in the face of difficulty, and what it means to understand the love of God and live loved.

If you desire healthier and more meaningful relationships this group would be beneficial for you. For more information leave a message at (661) 331-3392.