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Relational Ministry

Integrating Ministry and Psychotherapy

Catherine Gibson

Historically, the relationship between religion and psychotherapy has been more negative than positive. Are there inherent contradictions between the two, or can advances in the area of mental health care offer insights that are useful for the work of those in ordained ministry? This book presents an analysis of the relationship between ordained ministry on the one hand and counselling and psychotherapeutic practice on the other. It draws on extensive interviews carried out with current and former clergy in three churches (the Roman Catholic Church, the Church of Ireland and the Presbyterian Church in Ireland) in order to clarify why some have stayed in ministry and combined it with psychotherapy, while others have left and continue their practice as psychotherapists. The book explores possible links between the sense of ministry in these two important areas of human experience – religion and psychotherapy – and goes on to investigate how combining these might lead to a different form of ministry.
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CHAPTER 9 - Institutional Structures


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Institutional Structures

The participants in the research described in detail their experience of church and of ministry, including the factors that facilitated or inhibited what they were trying to achieve in their work among the people. Analysis of the data showed that, across the churches, the factor that most inhibited the participants’ efforts to develop forms of ministry that were focused on meeting the needs of people in changing societies in Ireland between 1960 and 1980 was the relationship between institution, power and ministry. Based on these findings I have drawn three conclusions:

1. Institution: due to fixed beliefs about the nature of the churches and the role of leadership in relation to the members, church leaders failed to varying extents to manage the implications for church organisation of the shifts in culture that happened between 1960 and 1980.

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