Counselling support for clergy families
Public ministry can be immensely rewarding. However, for the families of those in ministry there can be tensions and conflicts which may arise within the family and the parish. Living ‘on the job’ and in a house you perhaps wouldn’t have chosen, together with the lack of clearly defined time off, all make costly demands on the families of the clergy. Knowing there is additional support available can make a big difference. The diocesan counselling service is accessible, professional and flexible. It is confidential, and there is no charge.
When to ask for help
Clergy, licensed workers and their families, like anyone else, can face relationship problems, bereavement, anxiety, depression, illness or other challenging life events. Difficulties within the parish or with colleagues can also cause profound distress for the families of the clergy, and lead to stresses within a marriage or to difficult family relationships. It can be hard for spouses or other family members to know where to turn for confidential support, especially if they are new to the diocese or to this way of life. Families who have been here for longer can also feel lonely and isolated.
If there is a dilemma, issue or situation which troubles you or a member of your family, then our Diocesan Counsellor would be glad to arrange an initial meeting to explore whether she could help.
Counselling is not only for crises, but also has a valuable role in fostering personal and spiritual growth and in enabling families to manage the demands of ministry.
Safety and trust
Counselling depends on a relationship of trust within which the person seeking help can safely explore whatever issues they wish to discuss.
Confidentiality is a concern for those in ministry and for their family members. Our diocesan bishop and his senior staff recognize that confidentiality is essential. They do not know who sees a counsellor and the counsellor does not report to them, unless the person seeking help specifically asks for this. Confidentiality is agreed at the outset of counselling and would only be reviewed or altered in exceptional circumstances and after discussion.
The Diocesan Counsellor
Jane Keeton is the Diocesan Counsellor & Adviser in Pastoral Care. Jane is a Counselling Psychologist who has wide and varied experience including in the NHS, the Prison Service, Higher Education, a hospice and private practice. Jane has worked with individuals and groups of all ages, including children, teenagers and families. Jane is trained in person-centred counselling and cognitive-behaviour therapy, and draws on these and on other approaches depending on need.
Jane has been an active member of the Church since childhood, and has known the Church from a variety of perspectives; including as a novice Sister in the SLG Community at Fairacres, Oxford; and as a Virger in St Paul’s Cathedral, London. She is married to John, a priest who took early retirement in 2009, and so has first-hand experience of the demands and challenges of clergy family-life and of living in clergy housing.
How to contact the counselling service
Jane works from her home in Sprowston, Norwich, and can be contacted by phone or e-mail. Offering privacy and safety is a priority. All communications are confidential and no other person has access to her answerphone or email. Counselling sessions last approximately an hour, usually at weekly or fortnightly intervals at first, in order to build up a relationship and maintain continuity. However, length and frequency of meeting are negotiable. Sometimes 2 or 3 sessions may be sufficient, but 6 to 12 sessions are more common and counselling can also continue for much longer. The initial meeting is an opportunity to explore the issues and to agree together whether counselling would be a helpful way forward.
Please contact Jane if you feel that she could be of help.
Counselling Psychologist (HCPC and BPS registered)