Churches seek to provide pastoral care to their parishioners, but sometimes people need more support than their pastors or church leaders can provide. Linking parishioners with professional individual counselling or family therapy can fill this gap. Shalem has developed a Congregational Assistance Plan (CAP) to provide an affordable means for churches to make short-term professional Christian counselling services available to parishioners.
The CAP program has been modelled after Employee Assistance Plans (EAPs), a clinically proven and cost-effective means by which many major companies offer short-term counselling support to their employees.
In 2006 Shalem launched a pilot program to test CAP’s effectiveness. The pilot involved five Christian Reformed Churches over a period of three years. During that period there was a high level of satisfaction reported by the churches, clients and service providers, proving CAP to be an effective service delivery model. In 2009 the Shalem board approved CAP as one of our ongoing programs, making it available to any church in Ontario.
The number of churches involved in the CAP ministry continues to grow. To date there are 33 CAP churches plus two high schools, spanning from Ontario’s far west border to Kingston, and from Niagara to York Region. To provide services to churches in these areas, Shalem has developed working relationships with over 100 affiliate therapists who have become CAP Service Providers—therapists who are in private practice or working in a counselling centre. All CAP therapists are professionally trained with many years of experience, have a Master’s degree in the field, are members in good standing with a professional regulatory body, and have a passionate commitment to Christ themselves.
Frequently, clients give feedback expressing their gratitude that their church has decided to provide professional Christian-based counselling services as part of its ministry. Clients also describe being very pleased with the quality of services received. The churches providing CAP report that they view the program as a significant supplement to the pastoral care they seek to provide their congregants.