with Dr. David Stephens
Bringing a positive alternative
for a counseling ministry in
the life of the church.
The COUNSELING CONSULTATION MINISTRY addresses and meets the varied and complex mental, emotional and spiritual needs of those in the church in a way that supports the ministry philosophy of the church, encourages them towards continued involvement with the pastor and church and does so in a cost-effective manner.
COUNSELING CONSULTATION MINISTRY:
This ministry is based on the philosophy that pastors and ministers have primary responsibility for the needs of those in their church families, but can encounter challenges that require assistance from a mental health professional. At these times, the COUNSELING CONSULTATION MINISTRY can assist the pastor, or the individual, couple, or family in determining which needs can be met by the pastoral staff, and which need professional mental health assistance or intervention. Frequently, with some consultation the pastoral staff can meet the need. In this model, when a difficult or complex situation such as addiction, serious mental illness, dementia, involvement with the legal system, or serious educational problem arises, professional psychological services can be accessed.
The ministry options are described below:
Pastoral Consultation. This is the most basic intervention, and the one that occurs most commonly. Pastors can call or email and consult on issues that have arisen with individuals, couples, families, or groups in the church. The consultation includes an assessment of the problem, whether it requires further intervention on the part of the consultant/counselor, and suggestions on how to best proceed. Commonly, the pastor will be able to address the problem in the context of the church ministry, and not need to refer the person for further counseling or intervention.
Congregation Consultation. This allows people in the church to call or email the consultant/counselor and inquire about problems they are experiencing and how to address them. In many cases, the consultant will be able to refer the person back to the pastor to address the problem. When further counseling or intervention is needed the consultant/counselor will request permission from the person to contact the pastor and inform him of the contact and the recommendations, which will keep the pastor and the church involved in the life of the person and in the resolution of the problem.
Counseling. There will be times when the outcome of the consultation will be a request or referral for further professional counseling. This can be handled in one of several ways:
A. The church can arrange to have the counselor available several hours per week to meet with people as the need arises. In this case the person can arrange to meet with the counselor during available hours.
B. The church may prefer to have the person set up counseling independently, in which case the individual, couple or family would have full responsibility for the counseling process.
C. Counseling will frequently not require weekly, hour-long sessions for an extended period of time as is often the case in the current models being utilized in the church. Many issues can be resolved by meeting for a short period of time on a monthly or less frequent basis.
D. In all cases, the consultant/counselor will keep the pastor and the church informed (with permission from those involved) of the process of counseling, and attempt to transition the person back to the ministry of the church as soon as possible.
E. This consultation is intended to reach churches across the country, and so works if the consultant is out of the community or state, and if the church is already working with or referring to a professional counselor or Christian counseling agency. This happens in the following ways:
1. The consultation process happens as described in the earlier sections. If further intervention or counseling is needed, the consultant/counselor can make a referral to a local counselor.
2. The consultant can interview the local counselor, or the one with whom the church is working, to ensure his or her practice is philosophically and theologically consistent with the doctrine and ministry philosophy of the church, and is professionally competent. The intent is for the church to continue that relationship if they so desire and if the counselor is appropriate, but to do so within the Counseling Consultation Ministry.
Training. The Counseling Consultation Ministry includes a Mental Health First Aid training program. Pastoral Staff, Elder or Deacon Boards, and others involved in ministry can take advantage of initial Mental Health First Aid training for staff members, or initial training plus annual refreshers. The training focuses on how to recognize symptoms of serious mental illness (such as Schizophrenia, Substance Abuse, Bipolar Disorder, Eating Disorders, etc.) and how to manage them until they can receive consultation or the person can receive counseling services. This component can be utilized by a church either in collaboration with the consultation and counseling processes described above, or independent of them.
The Counseling Consultation Ministry includes other components, such as on-site availability for crisis situations, educational seminars, utilizing the science of motivation and behavior change to help people engage in and maintain the practices that help them achieve and sustain spiritual growth, and a model for using counseling services as an outreach to the community. Please inquire if your church is interested in how these other services are incorporated into the model.
DR. DAVID STEPHENS
Dr. Stephens is the developer and provider of the Counseling Consultation Ministry. He has a doctorate in psychology and is a Licensed Psychologist in 4 states. His experience includes working in Christian ministries and directing state mental health programs and systems. He has extensive knowledge of community social services, mental health services, the legal system, and mental health issues throughout the life span. He has worked closely with pastors and churches in providing consultation and counseling for them and their congregations.
He is an author and frequent speaker at national, state level and local conferences, and has been invited to speak on a variety of topics for community and church audiences. He has taught undergraduate courses in psychology, and courses in the Doctor of Ministry Program at Denver Seminary. His education and experience make him uniquely qualified to implement the Counseling Consultation Ministry Model.
Dr. David Stephens
Grace Place International
Broken Bow, OK
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