Priests and Psychological Therapy


Are priests capable of productive psychological therapy? Before we too deep into this, I’m not particularly interested in everlasting life and salvation when it comes to time of pain. When the depression become more painful than I can stand, I’m willing to accept suicide and all that comes with it. It couldn’t possibly be more painful than what I’m feeling now.

I can’t get the attention of a psychiatrist unless I attempt suicide and fail. Psychiatrists are the only ones who can prescribe medication and if I attempt suicide to I’ll be successful. NO DOUBT. So, no psychiatrist.

Is a priest only going to talk about prayer, salvation and everlasting life? That’s too far in the future. I need help NOW!!!

As I see it sitting here in front of my computer, there is no solution but my mother’s tears.

EDIT: I don’t care about sin. I’m in a state of mortal sin right now because I didn’t go to church last Sunday because of my current state of mind.


First of all you are not necessarily in a state of mortal sin as you think you are. If you sincerely were depressed to the point where going to church would be improbable, then there is probably no sin in this. It would be no different than the person who is too ill from a physical illness to attend church. Also due to your state of mind the three conditions required for mortal sin might not have all been there. You can always confess sometime in the future when you are well enough.

In regards to suicide, here is the way I see it and this probably won’t help you but I rationalize the situaton like this: There is defenitely a Heaven and Hell and more than likely a Purgatory. You certainly are not going to be rewarded for killing yourself so at best you will end up in Purgatory. My guess is that you will have to feel this level of depression plus worse in Purgatory for a much longer period of time. However, like you said, talking about salvation might not help at this point. Therefore, a priest may or may not be able to provide good counseling. Some are better than others. I think some might be trained but not all. Oh, and just so you know, you don’t have to attempt suicide to get attention of a psychiatrist; you can check yourself in and say you are suicidal. They take it very seriously. My sister tried to pretend to swallow pills once to get attention and we called the ambulance and they took her away despite her saying how she was joking and then she was sure mad when they committed her for a few days. She’ll never try that bluff again. Then there is access to psychiatrists and they can give you meds temporarily until you make an appointment with a psychiatrist of your choice who can then help you decide if medication is necessary or not.


a priest can give psychological therapy only if he is trained and licensed to do so. Fr. Benedict Groeschel is a priest who is also a psychologist. Nowdays a psychiatrist only prescribes medication, and ongoing supportive therapy for those with mental health issues is done by a psychologist or other professional trained in such therapy and licensed. The priest’s job is to confect the sacraments, give spiritual direction, and give pastoral counselling and care. None of these are the same thing as psychological therapy, and for a non-professional to pretend to give such care would be wrong. Call Catholic Charities in your diocese for a referral to a good therapist. Our parish has a retired therapist on call for those who approach us with such concerns.


Leah, this forum doesn’t allow medical advice, and the following is not intended to be, but I also have depression. I have never seen a psychiatrist for it. I simply went to my physician and he prescribed medication for it – which helped tremendously. Remember, medical service is just like any other service. If you’re not happy with what you’re getting, find another doctor.

You’ve probably heard strenuous, sustained physical exercise also helps. Of course, that’s if your depression isn’t so bad that you can’t get moving and you’re healthy enough to do it – another catch 22! If you’re using alcohol or non prescribed drugs, stop now and go get help. (That was part of my problem, alcohol.)

I have also heard meditation works, but I have no experience there. Maybe a few passes through the Rosary every day would help. As they say, it couldn’t hurt!

God bless you. You’re in my thoughts and prayers.


I completely agree with the advice to see a physician. Please mention that you are potentially suicidal. There is no shame in admitting yourself to a mental hospital, either. Why can’t you see a psychiatrist unless you attempt suicide?

Like you say, you need to get help NOW. If nothing else, a priest can direct you to a competent counselor or mental health professional to give you the help you need.


Let us all offer prayers to St. Dymphna for Leah’s emotional health.


Apparently, I did not communicate my situation very well. First, I’m not contemplating suicide, but I would like to see a psychiatrist so that I may benefit from his pharmaclogical expertise as opposed to a GP. In this day and time the only way to do that is to be hospitalized in a psychiatric hospital. I have no intention of doing that voluntarily or otherwise.

I think I mentioned that “talk” therapy does not work for me at all. In the past ten years, I’ve had trouble maintaining an ongoing relationship with a psychiatrist because I do not require hospitalization, therefore I’m not profitable to him/her. That’s my take. On the other hand, psychiatrists may be more unstable than me. :shrug:

I don’t think a priest will be of help to me in this situation because I’m not in a spiritual frame of mind by any means.

Vluvski: I’m taking medication prescribed by a GP, but they are not very effective any longer. Thank you so much for your prayers.

**Ramalama: ** I’m not looking for medical advice here. I’m really wanting to know if a priest’s counceling is worth while in such situations. If that’s medical advice, then I’m guilty.


Where did you get the idea that a psychiatrist will not prescribe medication if you are not suicidal? That is untrue. The goal of any treatment is to help a person before they become suicidal. I know that we are not allowed to give medical advice but you are experiencing what is called suicidal ideation. This is a serious psychiatric issue… you need to go see a physician whether it is your family doctor or a psychiatrist.

I wish you the best of luck and make an appointment ASAP. Medication will not fix all your problems but it is a good start and coupled with a good counselor, you can live a happy and healthy life.

BTW, I am a fourth year medical student doing a psychiatry rotation right now.


Have you double checked this? I know several people who see psychiatrists on a monthly basis (office visits) and receive medications.

I hope you find the help you’re looking for. ----KCT


If at all possible maybe you could indicate what it is that’s troubling you? I don’t mean to pry but to give advice it might help.



I was being a bit sarcastic. I’ve been on antidepressants for the better part of 30 years. I have a chemical imbalance (not bi-polar) and anxiety that must be regulated with meds. 30 years ago, I started out by seeing psychiatrists on a regular basis. About 13 years ago, when I needed to get back on medication, I couldn’t find a psychiatrist who would see me on a regular basis. Apparently, they were not accepting new patients. I was pushed off to a psychologist who would try to get me into a psychiatrist for one or two appointments for meds. It was a very difficult and frustrating working between the two. I can only assume this is the current practice. When I and my pharmacy couldn’t get through the psychiatrists answering machine to refill meds, my Internist has been caring for me since. I have EVERY confidence in him, but it just eats me up that with the rise in mental health problems, it’s so hard to get specialized help.

There’s much more to this story than I’ve written here. As you know, you may have to try several different meds or combinations before you get the right fix. When you can only get in to see a psychiatrist once or twice, it’s really difficult to get the meds running smooth.


I have what I believe to be Dysthymic Disorder. Basically, it’s chronic depression. Stress is a really big enemy. Otherwise, I do really well on medication, but for some unknown reason, I’m going through a really bad spell right now. I suspect a change of meds might be the answer, but I’d like to work this problem out with a specialist.


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