Sunday, June 5, 2011

Reader Participation Sunday: Pastoral Counselor or Spiritual Director?

It has become clear to me that I need someone to talk to on a regular basis, someone who can help me discern and sort and wrestle with what I hear God telling me, and who can help me work through the challenges and struggles that life brings me. While I have been meeting with Mac every 2-4 weeks, and will continue to do so, I would rather use that time to pick his brain about other things AND possibly be available for him, if the opportunity arises. There are also issues that I would rather not discuss with Mac; not because I don't trust him, but for other reasons.

I came to this realization (that I need help, that I need an additional resource) on Tuesday night. It had been a busy week and weekend. I worked 13.5 hours on Saturday, was then on-call Saturday night (and received two pages), attended church (where the special music and accompanying video made me cry), went to two different potlucks, and was then on-call again on Monday night (when I got yet another page). By Tuesday, I was exhausted. By Tuesday afternoon, I was sobbing on and off, and realized that I could not attend the very important campaign meeting that evening, simply because of my mental state.

I called Mac on Wednesday, and he made time for me on Friday, and we discussed self-care strategies and I shared that I clearly need help with self-management (such as knowing when I need to rest before things reach a critical point, building rest and care into my schedule, etc). He shared with me some of the strategies he uses, and invited me to share some of those (a small group, a clergy discussion group).

So, I'm going to use the next few months to build a support network for myself, with the hope that I'll be appointed in this area and will have these resources in place. My first step is what I mentioned before: someone who I can talk to, who can help me sort through my thoughts, and who will aid me in discovering and following God's will in my life.

The two clearest options for the sort of resource I'm describing are either a spiritual director or a pastoral counselor. I live in an area where either are readily available, and even have the number for several pastoral counselors. I cannot utilize both at this time, for financial reasons. My insurance would pay for the pastoral counselor, but I would probably need to pay out of pocket for the spiritual director, and I don't know how much that would cost.

I'm leaning towards the pastoral counseling option, but I wanted to hear your thoughts. Which have you found most helpful?


I'm here! Now what? said...

I have used both a prefer pastoral counseling.

Mary Beth said...


I posted this as the Wednesday Festival question on RevGals and there is a GREAT dialogue going on over there. Just wanted to make sure you saw it!

Here's a link.

net said...

I chose the counselor. She is a LSW and a pastor's wife in our denomination. She was a great help. Now we serve together on our Conferences Clergy/Families MH Wellness Committee.

Blessings, sister! Email me if you need to talk. Been there, done that.