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Journal Article

The Clergy as a Resource for Those Encountering Psychological Distress

H. Paul Chalfant, Peter L. Heller, Alden Roberts, David Briones, Salvador Aguirre-Hochbaum and Walter Farr
Review of Religious Research
Vol. 31, No. 3 (Mar., 1990), pp. 305-313
DOI: 10.2307/3511620
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3511620
Page Count: 9
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The Clergy as a Resource for Those Encountering Psychological Distress
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Abstract

The counseling role of clergy has been seen as threatened by the professionalization of mental health care. There are two reasons to reject this view. First, a theologically and psychologically sound program for training pastors in counseling has been growing for more than 50 years. Second, research findings, spanning a period of more than 20 years, consistently show that the clergy is the most frequently sought source of help for psychological distress. Findings reported in this study are based on a sample of 806 respondents selected from El Paso, Texas. As in past research, the clergy continue to be by far the most popular source of help for a personal problem. Popularity of the clergy as a help resource is not significantly affected by religious affiliation, but is affected by ethnicity, church attendance, and socioeconomic status. Among other conclusions, it is suggested that an intensive community mental health care orientation be promoted among clergy, practitioners of family medicine, psychiatrists/psychologists, and psychiatric social workers.

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