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JACKSONVILLE, FL, January 25, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Professional Development Resources has announced a new addition to its online continuing education (CE) curriculum for mental health professionals: Clergy Stress and Depression. The course is designed to provide psychotherapists with the information they need to understand and manage stress and depression in clergy.
According to the Schaeffer Institute the ministry is perhaps the single most stressful and frustrating working profession, more than medical, legal, or political careers. Most statistics say that 60% to 80% of those who enter the ministry will not still be in it 10 years later, and only a fraction will stay in it as a lifetime career.
One study (Krejcir, 2007) found that over 70% of pastors are so stressed and burned out that they regularly consider leaving the ministry. Among Krejcir's other findings:
- 89% of the pastors surveyed considered leaving the ministry at one time
- 57% said they would leave if they had a better place to go, including secular work
- 71% stated they were burned out, and they battle depression beyond fatigue on a weekly and even a daily basis
What are the elements that could conspire to produce such dire statistics? In addition to the job stressors that are examined in Clergy Stress and Depression, the essential rub may be found in the daunting challenges of trying to accommodate two entities - the human being and the minister - within a single skin.
"The dilemma may be viewed as something of a 'triple threat,'" says Robert Gauger, DMin, author of the new course. "Consider that the young aspiring pastor approaches the decision to enter the ministry - a uniquely stressful and demanding profession (threat #1) - with high spiritual ideals and virtually no preparation for the realities of the ministry (threat #2), and encounters little or no support from any quarter (threat #3) when reality sets in and the stress begins to build."
Among the stressors that can lead to burnout and depression in clergy is conflict with parishioners, which is frequently cited as the number one reason why some clergy consider leaving their calling (Gauger, 2011). Furthermore, most clergy are not adequately trained to deal with conflict situations.
Another common cause of stress for both clergy and their families is the "fishbowl" existence they lead. Spouses of clergy are expected participate in church-related obligations and to maintain certain standards of behavior and serve as examples to others regarding the appropriate ways to raise a family. Children of clergy, also known as 'preacher's kids' (PK), are expected to be honest, trustworthy, well-mannered, and good students while attending their educational facility (Brant, 2009).
As strategies for managing these stressors and preventing burnout, the authors recommend a number of preventive and restorative steps. First, individuals entering the ministry need to be prepared for the realities they will encounter, possibly with the help of seminaries, mentors, and mental health professionals. This preparation should include a realistic assessment of one's reasons for entering the ministry and training in people skills like conflict management.
Second, once in the ministry, clergy need to engage in a number of self-care strategies so that the pressures do not become unmanageable. These can include seeking social support systems and maintaining physical, mental, and spiritual health.
Finally, when stress does start to become unmanageable, clergy may need to seek professional mental health care. In such cases, the counselor will need to be trained to understand and respect the pastor's belief system and establish a common vocabulary that can bridge the gap between scripture and the science of psychology.
About Professional Development Resources, Inc.
Professional Development Resources is a Florida nonprofit educational corporation founded in 1992 by licensed marriage and family therapist Leo Christie, PhD. The company, which is accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA), the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB), the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC), the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics - as well as many other national and state boards - has focused its efforts on making accredited continuing education units more cost-effective and widely accessible to health professionals by offering online home study coursework. Its current expanded curriculum includes a wide variety of clinical topics intended to equip health professionals to offer state-of-the art services to their clients.
Leo Christie, PhD, CEO
Professional Development Resources, Inc.
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