CSM helps deal with mental health crisis with counseling webinar

By CSM Publishing Inc.

Sep 30, 2021

Numerous studies in medicine and psychology are sounding the alarm that a mental health crisis is currently happening, made worse by the ongoing pandemic, as the rates of depression and suicides are significantly on the rise, even inside churches.

Church Strengthening Ministry (CSM) recently did its part in helping stop the surge by equipping more counselors through its Ministering Through Counseling webinar held last September 18 and 25, 2021. The webinar featured distinguished speakers Pastor Archie dela Cruz and Dr. Alain Dizon, who are both from the AMARA Counseling and Training Center.

The two-part webinar featured basic counseling skills including listening and building rapport, as well as advanced practices, such as confronting a client and managing the counseling relationship. With more than 200 participants consisting of pastors, ministry leaders, and teachers representing 94 churches from locations as far as Hong Kong, a common dilemma among the delegates was setting boundaries in the counseling relationship. “Where do you set the line, since some of you may be performing dual roles as pastor and counselor? One must be able to discern, ‘I’m saying this as your pastor,’ or ‘I’m telling you this as your counselor,’ in order to build trust within the counseling relationship and avoid confusion,” Pastor Archie said.

Aside from addressing the mental health crisis, the Ministering Through Counseling webinar addressed common misconceptions regarding counseling, foremost of which is the need to dispense advice. “Counseling is not merely giving advice—it means helping the person process what they are going through so they can make sound decisions. It involves listening and asking the right questions,” Pastor Archie said.

A common mistake among Christians counseling other Christians is the tendency to over-spiritualize. “You can’t say to your counselee, ipag-pray mo lang yan, or get them to read their Bible more. You are being dismissive of them if you say that all they need is to pray more and grow their faith by getting closer to God. Kaya sila lumalapit sa iyo because they need help. Counseling means being able to empathize with them and tell them their emotions are valid and you are there to help process them,” Dr. Alain said.

Another false impression of counseling involves carrying the burden of the counselee personally. “If the counselee decides to look for work as a course of action, for example, you as a counselor do not need to take it on yourself to provide a job for the client,” Dr. Alain said. “You cannot take on all the burdens of your counselees, because eventually that will burn you out.”

The webinar series was well-received by the participants, especially pastors in the audience, who pointed out that familiarity sometimes hinders their effectiveness in ministering to people. There was an agreement among the delegates that pastors and ministry leaders need to “move from sympathy to empathy” to be effective not only in addressing the mental health crisis but as representatives of Christ.

The next CSM webinar will happen on October 9, 2021, with the topic “MagTechTalk Tayo: Keeping Our Kids Safe in an Online Environment” at 8:30am to 11:30 am via Zoom. To register, click this link, https://bit.ly/MagTechTalkTayoCSM. For more details, email us at training@csm-publishing.com or contact us at 0908-8937016.