In 2009, Shalem’s Congregational Assistance Program (CAP) became one of Shalem’s permanent programs. Many churches have found it to be an effective way to provide professional Christian counselling to their parishioners.
When describing the positive impact of CAP in their churches, we often hear about how much better this model is compared to how things were before. On pastor described it this way: The old model went like this: a family or individual came (to the church) with a problem, and the pastor or deacon said, “we’ve got to get some help for these people.” Often the family couldn’t afford counselling, yet we wanted them to be helped. That meant trying to devise wise policies–Where should they go? How many sessions? Who could approve this? So many internal conversations had to take place while we were also striving to respect confidentiality. We wanted the people to feel cared for, but often it was not very ‘safe’ to ask for help.
Now 6 years later, CAP has been providing safe, confidential and easy access to professional counselling services to almost 50 churches and schools, and continues to grow each year!
An unexpected development of CAP was in 2011 when we were approached by a high school to inquire about a counselling support program for their students. They were familiar with CAP and were interested in seeing if a similar model could be set up for their students to receive professional and anonymous counselling support.
The school recognized that relational and emotional issues can significantly impact a student’s ability to be able to focus on their studies, and that in order to maintain their school’s role of being able to focus on educational development, they needed to find a means to help address the increasingly pressing emotional and relational concerns. From that initiative came CAPS (Counselling Assistance Program for Students).
Since 2011, there are now 4 schools that are offering CAPS supports to their students. The most recent is Redeemer University in Hamilton. Students are able to call our Intake Department directly and are offered the option to be able to meet with a therapist either on or off campus. For CAP churches and CAPS schools, there are always several office locations and therapists that participants can choose from, so as to help ensure that they are connected with a therapist who is a best fit for them to work with.
As the CAP and CAPS ministries grow, Shalem also developed a growing number of affiliated therapists to be CAP and CAPS providers. Shalem has also continued to make professional development opportunities available to our now more than 100 CAP therapists!
On Oct 7, we hosted a drug information workshop in Hamilton. This workshop provided technical information to help understand psychoactive drugs and how they produce the behaviours they do. It was an engaging and interactive event, facilitated by Dr. Rick Csiernik from King’s College at the University of Western Ontario.
Shalem has also been able to collaborate with Dr. Csiernik in the writing and publishing of two research articles on CAP, sharing information about the CAP program with other professionals and organizations. As a result, Shalem’s CAP program has been featured in the Journal of Spirituality in Mental Health in an article titled A Tale of Two Churches: The Development of a Congregational Assistance Program. A second article was published in the Journal of Workplace Behavioral Health: Bringing EAP to Faith Communities: Genesis of a Canadian Congregational Assistance Plan.