Introduction – Why wait for crisis?

Posted on Aug 11 2015 by Gary Mason

In this first blog for CFCM I would like to introduce myself. I am an ordained minister with CFCM, an individual, couple and family therapist and am married to a minister for 37 years (married young!). In my clinical practice I have listened to many clergy and clergy couples as they shared about their challenges, heartbreaks, and desire for a better life. Counselling is often accessed in the midst of a crisis or when an ultimatum is stated. Why does it take a crisis to bring pastors to the counselling room? Is there still a perceived stigma about seeking out counselling when needed or as a preventative measure? Unfortunately I think so. I believe that with a change in attitude to counselling more pastors will seek help with greater ease and more frequently.

Pastors have always had unique challenges in their professional and personal lives simply because of the nature of the profession. They experience the challenges of average individuals but theirs may be more apparent due to their availability to the public Furthermore, rapid changes in society and technology have increased the challenges pastors face. These challenges affect all aspects of pastors’ lives and there are issues and concerns as a result.

So how do pastors ascertain that it is time to seek professional counselling? What are the early warning signs, both obvious and not as obvious, that help is needed?  Here’s a checklist of early warning signs:

  • feelings of hopelessness
  • emotional numbness
  • lowered  motivation, passion, productivity and energy
  • contact with people, especially church members, is very tiring
  • cynical in many areas
  • less sense of humour or laughter
  • self medicating or substance abuse
  • unhealthy coping mechanisms
  • easily angered
  • changes in sleep patterns or length
  • increase in relational issues with spouse or family
  • wishing could run away from everything

After reading the list if you were able to check off a few areas then probably a good rest or vacation is in order. If however you could identify with half or more of the list counselling is needed. As always it is important to have a medical prognosis to determine if there are underlying physical issues. In the next few blogs, I will discuss some practical steps on how to deal with issues that pastors are facing.

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Wendy Hofman  is the founder and Director of Veritas Counselling Centre in Burlington, Ontario. Find out more about them by clicking here.

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