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?

Our lives are journeys. Sometimes the next step seems too far away or too steep (rise or fall) for us to make on our own. Sometimes we need an experienced guide to help us see our options, encourage us, show us obstacles we may be blind to, highlight strengths we didn’t know about or forgot, or just keep us company and encourage us to get up if we fall while doing our best. Counselors and therapists often fill this role.

However, help isn’t always accessible. We call this a boundary to treatment. There can be both perceived and actual boundaries to mental health treatment. For instance, the idea that counseling is laying on a couch and analyzing your childhood relationship with your mother is an example of a perceived boundary to treatment: this is an unfavorable stereotype. Not knowing who to call to get counseling, not knowing when to call (how much stress is too much?), not having enough money to pay the co-pay are all examples of actual boundaries to treatment. IGRC wants to reduce both types of boundaries to treatment as best we can which is why IGRC offers the C.A.P. to its clergy and their families.

It is important to understand that not all counseling or therapy is created the same. It is also important to understand that different therapeutic approaches have been empirically found to be helpful for different problems. For instance, addiction issues have been found to be highly responsive to different behavioral therapies. But that doesn’t mean those are the only therapies that will be helpful for all individuals needing treatment for addiction. Therapeutic issues interact with the personality and environment of the affected individual which is why mental health is not as easy as X Diagnosis = Treatment A.

Effective counseling that produces change in the clients’ life is interactive. Similar to the saying, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink,” counselors can ask questions, prompt behavior or thought process changes, but we can not make a client do anything. The client is the person who will need to change something. The counselor can’t change your thinking or responses for you. Sometimes we as humans don’t like change. Sometimes we don’t want to have to work at change. This is very human. But do remember that anything worth having is worth working for.