Who understands the unique world in which pastors live, and who will be there to offer practical insights and guidance at times when they experience emotional brokenness? This was a question that was asked by EMERGE Ministries Canada who founded a counselling program specifically to meet the needs of pastors and their families.
In December 2009, Shalem accepted the invitation from EMERGE to take over this ministry, to become what is now Shalem’s newest program, called Clergy Care.
Shalem recognizes that ministerial leaders and their families have unique needs. A 2003 study by the Centre for Clergy Care at the University of Toronto reported twice the levels of depression among clergy compared to the general population. In addition, Dr. Robert McAllister indicated as early as 1965 that ministers were the one career group who could never step outside their professional definition and identity.
Clergy Care recognizes that pastors, like everyone else, deal with burdens of their own, but because of their role and prominence in the Christian community, many keep their emotional struggles secret and do not access community supports. Through the Clergy Care program, Shalem has contracted with professional pyschotherapists who have specific training and experience to be able to understand and address the needs of pastors and their families.
Clergy Care services are available throughout Southern Ontario – either on an individual fee-for-service basis, or through purchase by a denomination wishing to provide coverage to their clergy as part of their health care insurance plan.
Another component of the Clergy Care program is to provide professional development opportunities to pastors and those who work with them. For example, in April 2013, Dr. Marta Durski presented a one-day workshop on Sexual Addiction and the Church.
This year we are adding a personal retreat for clergy and their spouses, aimed at supporting them in keeping their marriages healthy. Coming in March 2014, the Emotionally Focused Clergy Couples retreat will be facilitated by Irene Oudyk-Suk, and based on internationally renowned couple therapist Sue Johnson’s program Hold Me Tight®: Conversations for Connection. During this retreat, couples will learn to recognize and repair patterns in their relationships that cause stress and unhappiness, and how to build patterns of loving connection. Check out the brochure for more information about the couple’s retreat.
To make a confidential inquiry or request an appointment to see a Clergy Care Therapist, or to register for the Couple’s Retreat, please contact the Shalem office at 1-866-347-004. For more information about the Clergy Care ministry, please contact our Director of Congregational Assistance Plan and Clergy Care, Marg Smit-Vandezande, either by email at [email protected] or by phone: 905-515-4758.