Chapter 27: Developing the Clergyman’s Potential for Mental Health: Indiana Programs by Paul E. Johnson

Community Mental Health: The Role of Church and Temple
by Howard J. Clinebell, Jr., (Ed.)

Chapter 27: Developing the Clergyman’s Potential for Mental Health: Indiana Programs by Paul E. Johnson

Mental health is everybody’s business, for we live in one world open to one another. We breathe one atmosphere in which we live or die. And we are moved by the emotional waves and attitudes arising in our community life. Slowly and painfully we begin to comprehend how deeply we are involved in one another’s lives. Actually no one can live unto himself or hide within himself alone, no matter what defenses he may hold up to ward off the social currents sweeping through our common humanity. If one is mentally ill the whole family is caught up in the distress. And if one person is sound he may radiate healthy attitudes to bless many people around him.

Whatever we think of him as an individual person, the clergyman is an influential member of his community, who affects the emotional health of many persons for good or ill. A nationwide survey revealed that 42 percent of persons seeking help with emotional problems had gone first to a clergyman.(See Chapter 16 for a fuller description of this survey.) When they were asked why they chose a clergyman, they said, "Because we know and trust him." Consequently there is reason to be concerned for the mental health of the clergy, and how they prepare to assist persons who are wrestling, as we all do at one time or another, with emotional problems.

In Indiana several programs converge on developing the mental health potential of the clergy. In 1957 The Methodist Church, led by Bishop Richard C. Raines, began a program of pastoral care and counseling with a twofold aim: (1) to provide counseling for ministers and laymen, and (2) to offer pastors continuing education in this crucial ministry of pastoral care. District committees were formed, training institutes were held for one or more days in every part of the state, and pastoral counseling centers were opened in eight cities by the collaboration of pastors with several other professions. The Rev. James E. Doty, Ph.D., was the first area director, and after nine years he was succeeded by the Rev. Foster J. Williams, Ph.D., who is expanding these opportunities for pastors.

In 1965, the Indianapolis Pastoral Counseling Center (The more than 200 pastoral counseling centers in the U.S.A. and Canada represent significant new mental health treatment and training resources.) at North United Methodist Church received from the Lilly Endowment a three-year grant, which has been renewed for two additional years, to expand the education of pastors in pastoral care and counseling. This center has become ecumenical in the religious affiliations of the advisory board, the funding of the program, the pastors who serve as counselors, and the persons who come for counseling or education.

In 1967, 13 pastoral counselors provided 1,237 hours of counseling for 309 persons from 23 denominations. The counselors received individual supervision each week from 5 pastoral supervisors and group supervision in case conferences each week in which 18 consultants participated from medicine, psychiatry, psychology, and social work. Problems presented for counseling were: marital, 129; personality, 55; depression, 34; family, 34; divorce, 15; vocation, 14; sex, 8; religious, 5; juvenile, 4; psychotic, 4; finance, 3; premarital, 2; addiction, 1; and personal identity, 1.

This Pastoral Counseling Center was accredited by the American Association of Pastoral Counselors, provisionally in 1966 and fully in 1967. The first Director, from 1958, was the Rev. Kenneth E. Reed, Ph.D., who is Director of Chaplaincy Services at the Methodist Hospital of Indiana. There he has developed a program of clinical pastoral education, accredited by the American Association of Clinical Pastoral Education.

Clinical pastoral education brings another significant dimension to the education of the pastor for his vocation, and particularly his ministry to the emotional needs of persons. Here the pastor learns to be sensitive to feelings, to be aware of signals of stress, and to understand the motivations and responses of human behavior. With intensive supervision from a chaplain supervisor he learns how a pastor may minister to persons in face-to-face relationships with the potential resources of religious faith, hope, and love.

In 1959, the Rev. John A. Whitesel, Ph.D., came to the Indiana University Medical Center to develop a service to patients, faculty, and students; and to initiate a program of clinical pastoral education which is accredited by the Association of Clinical Pastoral Education. Other such programs have since been accredited at the Central State Hospital, the Larue Carter Memorial Hospital of Indianapolis, and the United States Penitentiary, Terre Haute, Indiana.

From 1964 to 1967, a demonstration program of continuing education for clergy and related professions in mental health was directed by John Whitesel, sponsored by the National Institute of Mental Health and the Lilly Endowment. During this program seventy-eight clergymen from twenty-three urban and rural communities participated with eighteen persons from medicine, psychiatry, social work, and psychology as co-participants. Six cities were selected as training centers where community resources were explored, clergymen and other professionals were enrolled, a local committee was formed to plan the curriculum, and a group organized for continuing education.

These persons came in the fall to the Indiana University Medical Center for one week of full-time clinical pastoral experience, and again in the spring. Before coming to the Medical Center and the related hospitals, each group had three orientation seminars with the supervisory staff. Following the first and second clinical weeks a series of tri-weekly seminars of four hours each was held in each city where case studies, theoretical concepts, and community resources were studied. The inductive method of learning was followed with a concluding evaluation to assess each person’s experience and growth.

Specific objectives were (1) to promote acceptance of the mentally ill in the community, (2) to develop inquiring and collaborative attitudes in the clergy, (3) to sustain a working relationship among clergy and the mental health professions, (4) to apply the theory and methods of clinical pastoral education to a community service program, and (5) to explore instruments for assessment and educational needs.

In 1958, the Rev. Lowell G. Colston, Ph.D., was called to be Professor of Pastoral Care at Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis where he has developed a graduate program. Through affiliations with the above centers of clinical pastoral education and the Indianapolis Pastoral Counseling Center, the opportunities for continuing education of pastors have been notably enriched. The new curriculum is emphasizing concurrent field engagement in the community where eventually the pastor will serve persons under the varied conditions of the secular society.

There is general recognition of the urgent need for continuing education of the pastor, if he is to keep abreast of the demands and expectations confronting him. The National Institute of Mental Health in 1968 awarded a five-year grant to Christian Theological Seminary for the continuing education of the clergy in reference to mental health needs and services. This grant acknowledges the potential resources of this community for designing a broadly based program of many dimensions for pastors in mental health.

To coordinate the expanding programs of continuing education for the pastor, the Indiana Pastoral Institute is being incorporated as an association of religious bodies and educational centers who desire to cooperate in stimulating and sharing potential resources for more effective education. Ministers, priests, and rabbis who receive the benefits of this continuing education will return to their communities to serve the emotional, social, and spiritual needs of their people with deepening understanding and responsiveness.

Forms of Continuing Education

The education of pastors is moving into action along these strategic lines representing opportunities to keep growing in the ability to serve human needs:

(1) Graduate studies in the various ministries of pastoral care are being enriched in a cluster of theological seminaries (The Catholic Seminary Foundation will draw together a cluster of Catholic seminaries adjacent to Christian Theological Seminary.) and universities, with academic credit leading to master’s and doctor’s degrees.

(2) Clinical pastoral education is available full-time for six or twelve weeks, or part-time four days a week, in accredited centers where pastors serve on a team with other professionals to meet the crucial needs of patients. Chaplain residencies are available for one or more years of full-time intensive training.

(3) Counselor education is offered pastors who may choose a parish setting, a seminary, or a hospital as the base for this supervised intensive learning in teamwork, referral, and consultation with other professions.

(4) Parish education is available in several formats, such as:

(a) One day a week for thirty weeks including didactic and practicum sessions with case conferences, interpersonal groups, and supervised practice.

(b) Training laboratories for ten or twelve days full-time in a parish which serves as the laboratory for supervised practice and evaluation.

(c) Parish residencies where the pastor in training serves as a member of the church staff, engaging in a variety of ministries coordinated with intensive study, supervision, case conferences, training in group dynamics, pastoral counseling, and evaluations of his growth.

(5) Inner-city urban ministry either as a one-year resident or one day a week for thirty weeks to mingle with the people wherever they are, to engage the power structure of the community, to explore the economic and political strategies of community planning, to discover the potentialities for a ministry to total needs of persons who are deprived or in stress.

(6) Interagency participation to serve persons in special need, and staff the agencies of the community which seek to cope with crisis and despair, education and vocation, neighborhood associations and community organization. These services in Indianapolis may include the Community Mental Health Center, the family courts, the juvenile courts, the Suicide Prevention Center, child guidance centers, senior citizens programs, rehabilitative workshops such as the Goodwill Industries, schools for the blind or deaf, recreation and tutoring, housing and employment projects.


For additional reading

Accredited Training Centers and Member Seminaries 1968. Association for Clinical Pastoral Education, Room 450, 475 Riverside Drive, New York, N.Y. 10027.

The Journal of Pastoral Care, a quarterly publication. Association for Clinical Pastoral Education.

Manual and Directory 1966-1968. The American Association of Pastoral Counselors, Inc., 201 East 19th Street, New York, N.Y. 10003.

Ministry Studies, a quarterly publication. Ministry Studies Board, 1717 Massachusetts Avenue, NW., Washington. D.C. 20236.

Pastoral Psychology, a monthly publication. 400 Community Drive, Manhasset, N.Y. 11030.

Theological Education, a quarterly publication. The American Association of Theological Schools, 534 Third National Building, Dayton, Ohio 45402. See esp. Vol. IV, Spring and Summer, 1968.