My son needs and wants counseling, but we don’t know where to turne. We want to be sure the counseling is spiritually sound so we asked our Priest. He said he did not do counseling, but sent us to a psychologist he trust, but we can’t afford his fees. My son desparately needs help and I don’t know where to turn. We are new to the church so I hope this question is not naive, but do some priest offer counseling? Do you have any suggestions?
Most priests will counsel, but usually only once for the same problem. It’s largely a matter of time.
The benefits of regular “sessions” are very much disputed. There are no experts on human problems, though there are experts on mental illness, education, finance, the law and so forth who can help with specifics.
What might help is a “spiritual director”. You don’t say how old your son is. Normally these are not suitable for young children, but teenagers can go for direction. Usually the director will have some sort of position in a Catholic organisation, but will not be a priest, normally doesn’t do the job professionally and doesn’t charge. He is there for direction, not for exploring issues, though the two cannot be separated.
If you are looking for spiritual counseling then what you are looking for is a spiritual director. That you would have to ask a Priest if he can do this or recommend anyone for this. They are few and far between and take much obedience. If it is mental counseling, maybe the county, considering you live in the US, has a mental illness help program of some kind. Where I live, we have the Potomac Highlands Guild which base’s payments on a scale considering income and for the uninsured as well. I use a combination of spiritual direction and grief counseling, as well as a psychiatrist to battle ptsd. It is a very helpful combination that took much trial and error. Though secular Dr.s are often at odds with the religous side of treatment, I won’t be moved and they see it’s positive influence and concede. I hope you can find the help you seek. Tim
I agree if your son wants spiritual counseling to ask a priest how to find a spiritual director, maybe from a nearby monastery or retreat center? However, if your son has emotional / mental / psychological issues, I would imagine that is beyond the scope of a priest’s area of expertise.
I would suggest looking in the phone book: many towns or counties have social workers on staff who are aware of local resources for counseling and are used to working with people with low incomes who cannot afford expensive private counseling sessions.
Maybe call Dr. Dobson’s Focus on the Family at 1-800-A-FAMILY for a referral to a local Christian counselor, if you want a spiritual aspect to a practical emotional / mental / psychological issue? The only thing with Focus on the Family, as an evangelical Protestant organization, some of their members may not consider us Catholics as Christians, but only some odd cult and may try to convert you and your son? So get that question answered at the beginning of inquiring into a specifically Christian counselor.
most states have mental health facilities that have sliding fee scales…based on what you can afford.
Also, call your Diocese and ask about services they offer.
In some areas, Catholic Charities may be able to assist:
As another poster has said, Catholic Charities might be worth looking at. They use a sliding scale (based on income) to determine payment. HOWEVER, I will also say that just because it is called “Catholic” Charities, doesn’t mean that the counselor will remain faithful to Church teaching. So don’t assume. My wife and I went to a Catholic Charities counselor for marriage counseling and within the first 30 minutes she began promoting divorce as a viable option. After that, we stopped going.
try Catholic Charities through your diocesan pastoral center, for referral to counsellers who work on sliding scale need basis, or ask your pediatrician for a referral to an agency that works this way. Most priests are not equipped by training or license to do mental health counselling, their area is pastoral counselling, and while the two sometimes are both needed, it would be unprofessional and unhelpful for a priest to attempt something beyond his competence.
We had one child in Catholic Charities counseling for a while and had a much better experience, and they only charged a minimal fee for us. Just be careful, I suppose, and don’t expect too much out of a counselor until you know him/her pretty well.
My wife had the experience you mentioned but not at Catholic Charities. She (the counselor) was a licensed clinical social worker and there was no problem with our marriage. What is it with some counselors and divorce anyway?