Why Do We Need To Exist?
What the stats tell us about the usual solutions.
We need to start this post with a disclaimer, just to be extremely clear: while we're going to be talking about some of the ways in which licensed mental health or marriage counseling and pastoral counseling aren't sufficient to address this problem, we have ZERO objection to these resources on any kind of principle. But just like addictions and other mental health needs might need to be treated by a combination of Alcoholics Anonymous or Celebrate Recovery, individual therapy, and medication, the complex problems of the rise of instability in families and the decrease of longevity and satisfaction in marriages need to be addressed by a variety of resources. Let us explain why pastoral and licensed counseling aren't enough.
Beyond the fact that the statistics are headed in the wrong direction to indicate that these two resources alone are adequately addressing the problems, there are a couple of other factors. Most of them relate to one way or another in which both of these avenues for addressing marriage or parenting issues are too limited for the necessities of everyday life with a spouse or child. Licensed counselors, for instance, keep office hours, don't usually give out their personal cell or home phone numbers, and have strict guidelines about where they can meet and how they can interact with their clients in public. They're often not available for emergent situations and so can sometimes leave clients in a tough spot. There's also the problem of the clinical setting and nature of the profession: the inherent differential of power between client and counselor, the formal office space, diagnoses, etc. For many people, these clinical aspects are a deterrent for seeking help from a counselor at all. Not to mention, licensed counseling can be quite costly, depending on where you get it. Again, let me us be clear that this is not to say that licensed, professional counseling has no merit. To the contrary, having well educated, highly trained, closely regulated and supervised mental health professionals available to assist the ongoing problems that people experience every day in their lives is something this world sorely needs more of. But when it comes to the budget constraints of a young couple in college planning a wedding, or the volatile nature of marriage in crisis, licensed counseling can fall short of fully addressing the issues.
Pastoral counseling has some of the same problems as licensed counseling does, with one important addition: time. Most churches. even large, wealthy churches, have a staff that is remarkably disproportionate to the number of congregants the church is meant to shepherd. Pastors are constantly being asked for their time and attention, and most often their is just not enough time of day to meet the demand. Many of our clients have expressed not being able to meet with their pastors as often as they would like or need. Especially in a college town like this one, where many young people are here from out of state, access to their most trusted spiritual advisors becomes even more limited. This lack of availability is why finding spiritual mentors and investing in small groups is so important for every believer, but then the problem of training comes into play. Many small group leaders and members are not adequately trained to address the tougher questions of marriage and parenting.
While spiritual guidance from pastors and mental health counseling are both highly valuable and necessary resources, many times they are insufficient to offer the kind of support necessary to properly shepherd engaged couples to their wedding day, promote health and emotional wellness within a marriage, or train parents and children in the skills they need to grow lasting relationships in a community context. Check back tomorrow at noon to find out how Not Easily Broken Ministries seeks to partner with local churches and counselors to do all of these things here in Kosciusko County. Click one of the buttons below to get involved now.