The psychotherapeutic needs of the Anglican Parochial Clergy in this present age
Institutions that aim to be relevant in this new Millennium are likely to experience internal change of earthquake proportions. This has occurred within the Anglican Church of England. The historical and sociological changes in the nation have moved the Church from centre~stage to very near the edge. In spite of this, the Church is fodder for the media and the Press at every opportunity. Falling Church attendance, ordination of women priests and the misdemeanours of some clergy are broadcast far and wide. The pressures from within, and those exerted from without, take their toll on the workforce; that is, the ordained clergy. Nowhere is that force felt more keenly than by the parochial clergy. This research is exploring the psychotherapeutic needs of these Anglican parochial clergy, who are not only engaged in, but also affected by, the earthquake. Earthquakes crack structures and tear them up. The symbol of the Christian faith, and therefore the clergy, 1s the cross - a symbol of brokenness and a symbol of seeming defeat. Yet in spite of the cracks and the fragmentation, the Church and the Christian faith aim to offer a message of hope. In exploring the psychotherapeutic needs of clergy I looked at why they wanted to be ordained, whom they saw had authority over them, the view of their priesthood, family relationships, their work style in the parish and their spiritual and mental health. Themes of dis-integration and falling apart were woven throughout the material. The research has been a painful experience for those who took part, as well as for me. I have been a clergy wife for over thirty years and to see, hear and feel the pain of the cracks within the clergy has been profoundly moving. It has, however, been the courage of light shining through the cracks of vulnerable men and women that has also been seen and heard. This work may well be about reparation. That is not only the psychotherapeutic task but also the task allotted to the Christian Church. Restoring the image, whether of a cracked pot or a fragmented person, is the aim of every psychotherapeutic endeavour. If, through the work of this research, the Church and the hierarchy are more able to see and understand the psychotherapeutic needs of their workforce and provide some specialist help and backup, then the endeavour will have been worthwhile.