Shauna Summers

Shauna Summers serves as the Coordinator of Pastoral Care and Counseling.

Blog Posts

Online suicide prevention training from PCC

Pastors are encountering people experiencing mental health challenges more frequently than they have in the past. This trend indicates that the needs of congregations and community may be shifting. As these needs shift, so does the role of the pastor. IGRC’s Pastoral Care and Counseling wants our clergy and clergy spouses to have the ability to recognize when someone may be suicidal and know what to do next. For this reason, PCC has sponsored an evidence-based and peer-reviewed online QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer) Gatekeeper Training at no cost to IGRC clergy and families ($29.95 value).

Seven Directions Prayer

I am going to share the 7 Directions prayer I say often, especially when I am having a hard time finding things to be grateful for. Many Native American tribes incorporate a similar prayer into their spiritual life.  We start with the 4 cardinal directions, East (beginnings), South (learning), West (Change), and North (wisdom, endings) then move to the 5th direction (Father Sky), 6th direction (Mother Earth), and finally the 7th Direction (your own inner world).

Leading by Example

“When we feel uncertain of something, we resort to things that increase our sense of control." One way to both reduce uncertainty and increase our sense of control is to increase our knowledge and understanding of the problem. Actively doing something that changes our circumstances increases our sense of control because we are able to change our environment. Buying qualifies as doing something. Thankfully, however, there are other things we can do that will empower us to feel more in control of our destinies:

Slowing down vs. winding up

The holidays are upon us and there is so much to do and a shrinking amount of time to do it in! Does this sound familiar? Instead of letting your anxiety take over, activate your parasympathetic nervous system instead!

Process vs. outcome-oriented

Being a Process Oriented or Outcome Oriented person doesn’t make one type better than another type -- it means there are two ways to be oriented to challenges and BOTH are important because both bring different gifts to the table. Are you an Outcome or a Process person? The Process is the way we go about getting to the outcome. In sports terms I would say: “It’s not about who wins the game, it is about how the game is played.” Some say, “the joy is in the journey, not the destination” and others may talk about “the end justifying the means.”

Shepherding your herd through a valley

Meeting someone (or a congregation) where they are, showing them support and solidarity by walking beside them without judgment or trying to change their direction, makes walking the valley possible. You as pastors have the power to do this on an individual or congregational level.

Don’t fall for the confirmation bias

The Confirmation Bias is a type of cognitive bias where we, as human beings, listen more seriously to information that confirms the beliefs we already have while information that supports the opposing belief is treated with skepticism. Confirmation bias is most common when discussion surrounds an emotionally-charged topic.


There are so many kinds of transitions, and they all seem to have their own difficulties. If there are other transitions you would like resource tools or a folder full of tools for, please let us know at: We want to give you as much support as possible. You are not alone on this journey.

Differentiating Depression vs. Suicide Risk in Teens

Depression is a serious disorder, with many sub-types) that can cause significant problems in mood, thinking, and behavior at home, in school, and with peers. It is estimated (because teens underreport) that major depressive disorder (MDD) affects about 5 percent of adolescents. "The key is, if you think your child might have depression, don't worry about trying to define what it is, just get it checked out," says Dr. David Fassler. "Get to a mental health professional and get a comprehensive evaluation. The good news is that if it is depression, we really can help most of these kid

To Numb or To Experience: Sometimes that is our Question.

I am a woman who appreciates clarity, therefore, I like to start with definitions of the terms I am using; to make sure everyone is on the same page. Emotional numbing is what we do when we don’t want to feel something uncomfortable; we avoid the uncomfortable. We as a culture have understood alcohol and street drugs to be ways to escape uncomfortable feelings. Now, with the opiod epidemic we are aware that overusing prescription medications (too often these are prescribed pain medications that are highly addictive) are being used the same way. However, these aren’t the only ways to “self-medicate” with comfort.

Updates for April Self-Care Retreat

The 2nd Annual PCC Self-Care Retreat will be April 25-27 at the Pere Marquette State Park and Lodge in Grafton, IL. They are located on Illinois Route 100 (The Great River Road) 13653 Lodge Boulevard, Grafton, IL 62037. New this year is musical entertainment! The Rivers of Life Band will be playing after dinner on Wednesday. In addition to the topics listed below, both Sacred Spaces (interactive prayer stations) and chair massages will be offered Wednesday and Thursday. The Board of Ordained Ministry has granted 1 CEU for persons attending the entire event.

The first holiday after a loss

The first holiday season following a death feels like a complicated negotiation. The loss seems to be highlighted by the holiday and all that the holidays bring: family, tradition, and tender moments. Those who are grieving don’t know how to get through the first holiday without their loved person and those who care about a grieving person want to be helpful but are equally confused about how to do it. It’s a situation that is poignantly human.

What to expect from our Clergy Assistance Program

Assistance Programs are not designed to be the long-term solution, but, neither is counseling: They are both designed to help move you toward your next step. Next step: What does that mean?

Looking into probiotics

If you are like I am, I can get overwhelmed by the amount of information, products, and claims that are out there. You should always check with your doctor before making any kind of health change. With that said, if you are interested in what has been empirically found, I have included what I found most frequently in my search of meta-analyses: Probiotics have been found to effect our body weight, BMI, glucose metabolism and blood pressure to name a few.

Renewal moments: How to relax and renew when you don't have the time or even space

We all need to make mental space for ourselves to let go and not be ruminating over the list that isn’t getting done. Give yourself some grace. You can get back to it in an hour or after a nap. Take the time to close your eyes, take a few really deep breaths and appreciate yourself. You are in a hard situation. You are doing the best you can. God knows that and loves us anyway. It doesn’t matter if WE think our list should be all crossed off or if XYZ still needs to be set up. You are enough, just the way you are. Give yourself a few minutes to let that really soak in every single day.

Learning priorities and making them fit in life

How well I balance is determined by how conscious my choices are. So, in addition to writing the work/life tasks I need to accomplish on my To-Do Lists, I now include specific family time, activity in nature, and amount of time for renewal on my lists. Because I love to cross things off my lists, my lists include more than work stuff because work stuff is not my only priority. After all, I don’t want to have to learn this balancing lesson again. It is said that you either love the lesson (i.e., balancing) or you love the learning. I love the lesson and want to “get it” this time.

Are you trapped in the net?

The Internet lets you communicate instantly, tap vast knowledge, watch news unfold, run a business -- you name it and the Net is your servant. But could it become your master?

Mental Health Minute: Stress and Self-Care

The good news is that just as we have a stress response, we also have a relaxation response where our breathing and blood pressure slows down.


"Being self-compassionate means that you are open to your suffering and you offer support and understanding toward yourself,” Kristin Neff says. “It can help people take responsibility for setbacks of failures, acknowledge the setback without judgment, and recognize that everyone makes mistakes and that you can learn from these experiences."

Is multi-tasking worth it?

PCC Coordinator Shauna Summers offers a few suggestions about multi-tasking that have proven most helpful to her.

Changing stress into motivation

Isn’t it interesting that we often can’t access our creativity during the changing times that would benefit from our creativity and “out of the box” thinking because of our stress-induced anxiety? Stress is what shuts creativity down at the very times we need it the most. What if there was another way?   Change is stressful, we know that, but based on research an international expert neuroscientist, trained clinical psychologist, and Professor of Psychology at Trinity College Dublin, Ian Robertson, has identified a four-step process that we can use to “harnesses stress” changing our mindset from helplessness into one of control and positive energy which changes the brai

Loneliness, Friendships and Mental Health

Research shows that friends are important to our physical and mental health. "... people who do not have strong support from friends and family live shorter lives and suffer more from stress," says Cheryl A. Richey, Ph.D., professor of social work at the University of Washington. "Support from friends can give people the strength to make positive changes in their lives, like staying away from drugs or leaving an abusive relationship."

The Power of Our Thoughts

We made it through Annual Conference! Thank you to those of you who stopped by the PCC display table and picked up information on the available services and resources through Pastoral Care and Counseling or through the Clergy Assistance Program.

Use your birthright and laugh our way better!

With so much power to heal and renew, the ability to laugh easily and frequently is a tremendous resource for dealing with daily challenges, enhancing your relationships, and supporting both physical and emotional health. Laughter has been researched and it has been found to quickly effect the body in many ways.

New Year's Resolutions vs. Mini-Goals

Setting mini-goals is the best way to achieve your goals. Achievable goals also provide positive feedback, increase your self-confidence, and help you attain your final goal. If you do fall short, accept that you are human and try again tomorrow. Every day is an opportunity for a new start.

Balancing and People Pleasing

As pastors, leading a congregation who willingly serves, loves Jesus, and gives of themselves generously is the goal. Sometimes, when any of us want something (that isn’t happening the way we would like it to) so badly, we rationalize and mislead ourselves into a “people pleasing” thought process that tells us that if we work hard enough to please the misguided sheep, they will see the light. But, that doesn’t necessarily happen. When we move from healthy ‘people pleasing’ to unhealthy ‘people pleasing’ it tends to be because our motivation for saying ‘yes’ has changed.

Health and Holidays

Stress, and the way we perceive stress, are the primary reasons we aren’t all 100% healthy. Stress can build us up such as with a new baby or a marriage, or stress can be perceived as negative or harmful to us. Harmful stress slowly breaks us down like boulders being broken down into sand whereas positive stress strengthens our foundation and builds us up. When stress breaks us down faster than life can build us back up, we lose function and therefore we lose health. It may not feel like we have a choice in how stress affects us, when in reality, we have quite a bit of control.

When the Difficult Person is You

Unlike the difficult people we tend to see in the church, it can be hard for us (not necessarily so hard for those around us) to identify the difficult person within us. We can get defensive if others try to point it out to us which does nothing to keep that relationship healthy. Many of us in the helping professions (clergy, counselor, nurse, etc.) feel more comfortable putting other people's’ comfort and well-being before our own which creates or reinforces our existing inner difficult person.

An Ounce of Prevention

The best thing you can do for both yourself and your family is to practice good self-care. As clergy, you support and guide others. When we are tired, fatigued, overwhelmed, apathetic or sad we have a hard time guiding ourselves let alone others. Participating in an effective and consistent self-care plan that rejuvenates you will prepare you to better support and guide others.

Reframing Life with Gratitude

A daily gratitude practice has been found in multiple studies to benefit our psychological (alert, energetic, attentive) and physical (better sleep and increased likelihood of exercise) health as well as healthier interpersonal relationships (less lonely/isolated, feeling more connected, being more helpful). Studies have also found that depression and anxiety decrease while reports of life satisfaction increase as daily gratitude practice becomes more consistent.

Moving. Who doesn't love moving?

Moving can be scary. After all, we typically don’t know what to expect and that ambiguity makes us uneasy, no matter how meaningful the reason we are moving is (or how many times we’ve done it). The vow of itinerancy is the commitment by pastors to go and serve wherever their Bishop sends them. The goal is to match the gifts and the graces of a particular pastor to the ministry needs of a particular congregation.

Thief of Time

Procrastination always pays off in the now but not in the future when you have work piled up to your eyeballs. Procrastination not only affects life at home or work, it is also associated with feelings of guilt, inadequacy, self-disgust, stress and depression.