Priests as psychologist

Hi! I know some (I’m not sure if all) priests can conduct counselling. I was just wondering if we can seek help from a priest instead of a psychologist. I’m wondering if both do the same thing with the only difference is that priests have religious teachings as foundation to use in counseling.

There’s a vast legal, medical, knowledge, and qualification gap between the profession and vocation. With many functions requiring a psychologists, although I’m sure there are a few professional and licensed psychologists in the priesthood. I’d be more inclined to advocate utilizing a psychologist in conjunction with a priest.

I don’t have first-hand knowledge, but I would imagine that if a priest feels he cannot sufficiently handle a person’s specific problem by himself, he might refer them to a Catholic-friendly clinical psychologist.

If you have mental health issues, go to a psychiatrist and get their professional and medical opinion and assistance with it.There are some priests who can also legally practice as a psychologist, but this is not the norm.

If you’re looking for a “Catholic based” approach to mental health, try to find a psychologist who practices Thomistic Psychology. It’s a psychology theory based in St. Thomas Aquinas’ writings about sin and virtues, etc.

I had to study a lot of psychology in school, and a lot of it seemed like quackery. I then got my hands on a book, “Introduction to Mental Health” written by Fr. Chad Ripperger (he was also taught philosophy at the FSSP’s seminary in Lincoln, Nebraska). Psychology never made so much sense to me.

No, a priest is not a psychologist. If you need mental health help, please go to that kind of professional. A priest is a spiritual counselor, not a psychiatrist or a psychologist. In fact, the two roles may be incompatible since psychology is not based on spiritual beliefs but a school of thought that frequently leaves out spiritual practices, faith, etc.

The sort of counseling that a priest does is not the same as that of a psychologist.

i would guess it depends on the issue. if it requires medication to treat??? if it is just someone to hear your problems and offer advice??? Talk to your priest, he may advise a counselor for treatment, then again, who knows what he was before he took vows…

Fr Ed Silvia on EWTN,is a licensed counselor.

To be a little more specific, I am looking for someone who could help an abuser in the family. After reading about domestic violence last night, I’ve realized I’m suffering from it. And I’d like to help the abuser. I want to engage him in counseling and make him realize what he is doing is wrong as he does not think he is doing anything wrong yet he makes me feel guilty and/or afraid to defy him. A priest would be able to help, wouldnt he? Im not avoiding psychologists. It’s just that the abuser does not have a very good command.of the English language and I know a priest who speaks our native tongue here so it’ll be easier for him to talk to the priest.

Well before that, I have to try to convince him that he needs help and to seek for one.

Priests and psychologists are two different things, and they treat two different kinds of conditions. The training for the two professions is not the same training at all.

The other thing is that there are also many good psychologists who can speak other languages in the US.

This could be a dangerous situation for you. I recommend that your speak to your priest and ask his advice but also call the domestic abuse hotline in your area. Your priest may even be able to give you the number.

You want to be sure that others know about your situation both to help the abuser and to help you. The abuser may end up needing more specialized medical/psycological help than your priest can give him (and you may too).

Talk to your priest as soon as possible.

I hope you get through this, sirius.


Thanks! :slight_smile: It’s not as serious as in other people’s situation. I have managed to get myself out from some of his clutches. I’m now able to do a lot of things I wasn’t able to do before just by being firm and facing the consequences (his anger). And now those things that I do now (which he used to prevent me from doing) seems normal to him now. He wont prevent me from doing them anymore. Though there are still times I hear him complain about it, but not anymore expressed as anger, just annoyance. Yet I’m still not totally free. There are still other stuffs I’m fearful of defying him. But I’m working on it.

Thanks so much for your help and concerns :slight_smile:


This question demands some sort of notion as to what it is counseling is needed. Specifics are not necessary however for any sane answer to be offered, what is the problem for believing that counseling is needed?

I did read your problem after answering and the answer is that you cannot cause anyone to want to see a counselor.

Here is a question that is cogent. What is the relationship you have with this abuser and what is the social situation you have with this abuser?

On this thread, the OP mentioned she’s 25 and the abuser is her father (she still lives at home). It sounds like cultural considerations are also at play regarding his attempted control and behavior towards her.


I read your history and see that you are in Australia. I understand that you are of Filipino ancestry, your father drinks, you are an adult, and you live with your father.

Here is what I see.

My experience with Filipinos, having been to the Phillipines many times is that there is a matriarchy. Your mother plays a pivotal role in the family. This may or may not contibute to the family dynamic as far as your Father is concerned.

Communication is a problem and based on what I read this is your biggest problem.

You are not responsible for your Father’s feelings. He is an adult. No one is responsible for how someone else feels. This is dysfunctional.

Drinking is a problem that overlays a potentially bigger problem and what that is related to only your Father knows.

Anger is an issue that you may be concerned and cautious about. If you do nothing that causes your Father to be angry then understand that your Father has unresolved conflicts.

As an adult, able to care for yourself, the best thing you can do is take care of yourself first and foremost. I suggest you see a counselor of some sort that may understand Family dynamics to aid you in providing you insight to what it is you are dealing with. Sometimes if you go to a counselor, other family members will follow.

I suggest you look at some of the Transactional Analysis stuff that may give you insight into what it is you are experiencing as it regards your relationship with your family.

I also suggest you look at Karpman’s triangle and the notion of aiding and rescuing. This is also dysfunctional. You cannot help your Father if he does not want help.

You have a difficult sitiuation.

See a priest and study the Catechism. I found in times of trial that listening, not reading, but listening to the Psalms quiets a troubled mind.

Hi All,

I am penniee and am new here. I have psted a question or message here yesterday and it is gone to where then I have had no clue. Can I ask question here?:confused:

Excellent suggestions! :thumbsup:

At the risk of derailing the thread- was it regarding Social Justice? That is what this section is for. Did the question or the content of the message contain something against forum rules?

Sometimes questions get moved to the appropriate section, but it looks as though you only have your intro post and this question to which I’m responding. I would resubmit the opening post in the appropriate section (here if it’s Social Justice) and make sure none of what you’re posting is against forum rules.

This list is a little dated, but it includes the banned topics here on CAF:

Also, posts about one form of the Mass being better than another is not permitted, and some subjects have been discussed ad nauseum (such as modesty, women’s clothes, headcoverings/veils, etc) and will usually get locked with a message from the moderator to search the archives.

thanks for the advice Coptic. I do want to seek counseling myself but I’m a really shy person and I think its awkward telling someone I’m not close to about my problem. But I’ll try to gather some guts and do it. Also, I’d just like to add FYI, that though I and my parents are brought up in the Philippines, at least I and my dad weren’t brought up as typically Filipino. My grandparents from my dad’s side are Chinese. So the way he “controls” my life may not be typical for Filipinos but I see it in some of my Filipino-Chinese friends. Maybe the only difference is that their parents don’t drink or becomes as consumed in rage and are also not as paranoid.

Thanks so much for the advice. What I need most is lots of prayer… For guidance and courage.


I understand that the Asian Culture has a deep respect for family, ancestors and maintaining problems within the family. In consideration that your father drinks there are things you can do. You may not know that there are many ways to deal with this problem. Some may say send him to AA and you go to Alanon. Some may say stay away from AA and Alanon. I believe that you may benefit from investigating SMART. You can get their material, review it, perhaps go to meetings yourself and learn what they have to offer. It would be an opportunity to learn a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy approach to problems. It is not intended to be forever and it is a short term experience. This approach does not implicate drinking as a disease and for the Asian Culture may be more beneficial.

You say “parents” drink so I am assuming that drinking may be the problem that is escalating all the problems. I suggest you look into something like I just suggested and learn as much as you can.

You do need prayers I agree.

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