Counselling The Clergy

In principle, counselling clergy is no different from counselling anyone else. We all struggle with the same human problems, and the largely unconscious legacies of our childhoods.

However the clergy and their family members are often wary of psychotherapy, feeling that problems should be sorted out in their relationship with God, and suspecting, sometimes rightly, that therapists are unsympathetic to those with a religious faith. The irony is that even if your therapist were a convinced Christian you would never know, nor would he or she ever say. This is because in psychodynamic psychotherapy, the therapist remains ‘a blank canvas’.  This is an essential part of their work with the client’s unconscious.

I have worked with clergy and their families for some years now, mostly at St Luke’s Hospital  For the Clergy, where I worked with individuals and with clergy couples with marital problems. I am also on the staff at WPF where I conduct the group on a Pastoral Counselling course.

In a recent interview with the Church Of England Newspaper, Friday March 27th 2009, I spoke about clergy counselling under the heading, ‘The Church On The Couch’.