Saturday, April 2, 2016
What every Bishop should understand about counseling
Reason a person might seek counseling or you recommend counseling: abuse (verbal, emotional, physical, sexual, spiritual), marital problems, mental health, self-harm, death of a loved one, eating disorders, addictions (drugs, alcohol, porn), inappropriate (abusive) behavior, dealing with trauma, and other issues.
Having someone from your ward come into your office and admit they want/ need counseling isn't an easy thing to do. Don't take it lightly, minimize it or try to convince them they do not need it. Try to be as supportive as you can.
Even if they have been to counseling before, it's not a 1 time fix all type of thing. Sometimes people experience "triggers" or new issues come up.
Priesthood blessings don't always "fix" past abuse, trauma and trials. I once had a bishop tell me that him giving me a Priesthood blessing would make me forgive and move on with my life. I wish it were that easy.
The person seeking counseling does not have to go through LDS Family Services. Any counselor/ therapist can accept payments from a bishop. If they are not through LDSFS, just make sure they are willing to work with you.
If someone wishes to seek counseling, but can't afford it, help them pay. I had a bishop that refused to help me pay because he thought that I wouldn't get anything out of it if I didn't pay for me.
Sometimes people and counselor personalities clash and they need to switch counselors.
Take confidentiality and talking privately seriously. Once I was wanting to talk to my bishop about counseling, I ran into him in the gym and asked if we could speak. He stopped and said, yeah go ahead. I told him it was about counseling (he knew I was going) and he told me to continue. So there in the gym with other people walking by we talked about my counseling! Ackward...
If someone in your ward is in counseling for, let's say abuse, and someone else during Sacrament meeting mentions abuse, do not stare at the person in counseling. It will make them feel awkward and put on the spot. If you do glace their way, give them a smile to show you care and are thinking of them. Yes, I've had a bishop stare me down, giving me a dirty look once because he didn't support me going to counseling (for past abuse) and someone said how people shouldn't abuse other people.
Let them know that you are there for them if they ever need to talk. Even if you don't understand what they are going through, just try to be there for them.
Ask if there is anything you can do to help.
The best thing is not to teach bishops how to be counselors, but teach them how to recognize the signs of when a member of their ward needs professional help, and then who their best resources are in their area. ~ S.Z. MFT
Don't be afraid to offer help. I've had bishop's suggest books or church articles to read. One bishop asked if I wanted to open up to the Relief Society President for additional support. Way back before I went to counseling I was actually adamantly against it! A very loving and caring bishop encouraged me to go and it changed my whole life!
If they are going for Mental Illness:
Treat the person with understanding and compassion. Reassure the person that Heavenly Father loves him or her. Help the person know that God supports his or her efforts to cope and build strength.
Remember that mental illness is not a punishment from God. Realize that a mental illness cannot be overcome by willpower alone. It does not indicate that a person lacks faith, character, or worthiness.
This is great info to read as well, "General Counsel for Bishops -- from Other LDS Therapists"