CHURCH LIFE -Psychological and Counseling Perspective
Dr. Saji Kumar K. P.
Generally it is understood that, church is a community called out from darkness to light. Jesus set us the members of the church free from the bondages of sin. Therefore we are expected to lead a wholesome life and a life in abundance. But on the other hand, we are all growing into and being transformed to Christ likeness too. None of us are perfect and all of us make mistakes. When we are tempted sometimes we loose our control and allow the mind to experience a lot of problem. So in every church we will find individuals who need consistent emotional support and that necessarily becomes part of our pastoral ministry.
Psychology and counseling gives us a lot of information to understand people. We care others better when we understand them better. We must make use of every available resources in understanding people and that will make us a better casing community too. It is a known fact that an young people in the church need counseling and guidance because many of them struggle with issues such as identity crisis, influence of internet and pornography and a lot of physical, sexual and emotional abuse from significant others. Families need psychological and counseling intervention because they go through a lot of issues and that requires studies and insights drawn from it. If a pastor is a learned family counselor, he ministers better to resolve family issues. There are many people at their old age, looking for psychological help and counseling intervention within the church.
The following some of the common issues people look for psychological and counseling interventions:
Stress is the ‘wear and tear’ our bodies experience as we adjust to charges in our life. It is natural reaction to excessive pressure or other types of demand placed on us. When stress is in too great stage it can lead to mental and physical health problems. Stress also can result from common life events such as death of loved ones, birth of a child, job promotion or lose, divorce or an unexpected event. People experience stress from excessive demands in life. People demonstrate aggression, reduced attention span, poor memory headache the because of stress.
People facing stress must be identified by the partner or caregivers in the church and they must be listened to. They must be taught how to overcome stress by the path of meditating Gods word, meaning their family situation, prayer and forgiveness etc.
Anxiety arise out of uncertainty and it becomes a major issue in spiritual growth when it is severe and people are unable to handle it. Anxiety effects the way we feel, think and behave and the way our body works. People with a lot of anxiety create many unnecessary relationship problems in the church and they demand so much of care in the community. Anxiety is a common problem among elderly in the church. This happens when they think about their past mistakes and experiences. People struggling with anxiety might require a lot of Bible study and their whole perspectives must be surrounded with a lot of support of the Holy Spirit. The caregivers in the church must facilitate that.
3. Bi-Polar Affective Disorder
It is a condition affecting a person’s mood. We all experience mood changes, but in someone with bi-polar disorder there charges can be more extreme and sometimes unpredictable. Most often there is a high or manic period alternating with a low or depressed period. There is a period of stable mood in between. The symptoms include periods of deep depression where none of the messages spoken in the church make sense to their hehaviours. There is lack of energy and life seems worthless and when an individual is at this stage, they can likely to misinterpret what others speak and how others relate to them.
Depression is another psychological problem people look for holy in churches. Depression is used to describe a range of moods from the low spirits we all experience occasionally; to a severe problem that interferes with everyday life. Everyone may feel fed up miserable or sad at times particularly after a deeply distressing occasion such as the death of someone lose. Usually this kind of sadness passes with time, but occasional it may carry on or seem to get out of proportion. Sometimes depression just comes out of the bluewithout any obvious depression is only a significant problem if it lasts for more than two weeks. If it persists it can dominate every aspect of someone life. From the outside, a person with depression may look lazy but it is not the case. They need help and support.
5. Personality Disorder
Personality refers to pattern of thoughts, feelings and behavior that make each of us individuals. We tend to behave in fairly predictable ways yet our personality also develops and charges as circumstances charges. Someone who has personality disorder is likely to become quite inflexible their range of attitudes and behavior is limited and likely to be different from what is expected and can cause disorders to themselves and others. They have difficult to make relationship with the church community and also struggles to keep up friendship. They can’t maintain a stable relationship and work cooperative by with others.
In the light of these issues where people look for psychological and counseling information, we are expected to do the following:
(i) Raise mental health awareness
This must be done to the church members, church leaders and church workers to increase understanding of psychological issues people struggle with and also to tackle these by the learning of helping stalks and also by the dependence of the Holy Spirit. The churches must identify ways in which we can provide welcoming and support environment for people is distress.
(ii) Increasing understanding of the role of the church in mental health promotion:
This allows people to reflect on their own experience of mental health issues and how this relates to their Christian faith. This promotes prayer for healing too. The resources like the service of efficient care givers in the church, the meditation and devotional times etc. must be made use to take psychological issues faced by people.
(iii) Developing support system for people experiencing mental disorder:
The church community can create support system of small groups where people struggling with similar issues could come together and share their burdens. The church can conduct seminars and spiritual motivation times for the wellbeing of individuals requiring counseling and psychological support. Our worship must include time for emotional ventilation so that people are released from their suppressed feelings.
The Church life is expected to be a wholesome growth and the life of abundance in the presence of God. A church contains variety of individuals who come from various emotional backgrounds. The effort of the community must be to enhance the joy of unity and cooperation. The psychological understanding of people who struggle with several issues deep down in their hearts helps us to minister to others better and thereby promote a wholistic growth.