Pastors: When to Recommend Professional Counselling for Congregants


As pastors, we are called to serve our congregants in any way we can. We strive to provide spiritual guidance and support to our congregants during difficult times. But there may be times when it is necessary for us to recommend that a congregant seek specialized counselling in addition to meeting with pastors and church staff. In this blog post, let’s take a look at when it might be necessary for a pastor to make such a recommendation.

When It’s Necessary To Recommend Specialized Counselling

There are certain situations in which it may be necessary for a pastor or church leader to suggest that someone seek specialized counselling in addition to the pastoral care they are receiving. Here are some of the most common scenarios:

1. When the issue is too complex or deep-rooted for the pastor or church staff to handle on their own – such as cases of serious mental illness, addiction, or grief and trauma counseling.

2. When the individual has already tried different methods of dealing with the problem but has not been successful – such as marriage and family counselling or addiction treatment programs.

3. When the individual is struggling with an issue that requires professional help from someone who is trained in that particular area – such as depression or anxiety counseling, PTSD therapy.

4. When the individual needs more support than what can be provided by pastors or church staff – such as one-on-one counseling sessions or group therapy sessions.

In all of these cases, it is important for pastors and church leaders to remember that they do not have all of the answers or solutions needed by their congregants—but they do possess enough knowledge of their situation and resources available in order to make an informed decision on whether or not they should recommend specialized counselling services.

It’s important that in these situations, we’re prepared to recommend resources to those we are called to pastor. Do some research on the counselling centers and therapists available locally in your community, as well as virtual resources available online. It can be tough to know who to connect with the folks who need help, and when emergencies arise, you want to know who you’re sending your congregants to.

Connecting with local counselors and therapists can pay dividends in other ways as well. Often, these professionals have insights into the community and the challenges facing it that we don’t necessarily think of. This kind of perspective can be invaluable as we lead our churches well.

No matter how well trained and experienced pastors and church staff may be in providing pastoral care, there will be some instances where specialized counselling will be needed by their congregants. It can be difficult for pastors to recognize when it’s time to make this recommendation—but doing so could mean life changing results for those under their care. By being aware of the signs outlined above and having access to resources related to specialized counselling services within your local community, you can ensure that those under your charge receive the best possible care during challenging times.

Josh Tarp, Author

About the Author

Josh Tarp is a multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter, and worship leader from Minneapolis with over 15 years of experience in church & worship leadership. Josh serves as the Director of Marketing at Motion Worship, helping to write various blog posts, managing social media, designing graphics, and handling customer service.

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