Counselling provision for clergy, their spouses / partners and dependent children, and licensed lay-workers.
Public ministry can be immensely rewarding. However, exposure to the distress of other people’s lives, the tensions and conflicts which may arise in parish life and the difficulties of living ‘on the job’, all make costly demands on ministers and their families. Clergy and their families, like anyone else, may face relationship problems, bereavement, illness or other challenging life events. It can be hard for those in public ministry and those with whom they share their lives to know where to turn for confidential support, especially if they are new to the Diocese or to ministry. Those who are long established can also feel lonely and isolated.
Some of the issues people bring to counselling are:
- anxiety and panic attacks
- relationship difficulties, both personal and professional
- loss and bereavement
- adjusting to transitions, in both personal and professional life
- ministry stresses and pressures
- suicidal thoughts or self-harm
- health difficulties
Counselling is not only for crises, but also has a valuable role in fostering personal and spiritual growth and ministerial formation. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but rather a sign of courage and of taking responsibility for your own wellbeing.
The diocesan counselling service provides an accessible, professional and flexible service. It is confidential and there is no charge.
When to ask for help
Ministers whose role is to care for others may find it difficult to ask for help, or to judge whether an issue justifies contacting a counsellor. 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 conversation to explore whether she could help.
Safety and trust
Counselling depends on a relationship of trust within which the person seeking help can safely explore personal and/or ministerial issues. Confidentiality can be a concern for those in public ministry and their family members. Our diocesan bishop and his senior staff recognize that confidentiality is essential. They do not know who sees the 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.
Diocesan Counsellor & Adviser in Pastoral Care
Jane Keeton is the Diocesan Counsellor & Adviser in Pastoral Care. Jane qualified as a Counselling Psychologist in 2001, and has wide and varied experience including the NHS, the Prison Service, Higher Education, and private practice, and has worked with individuals and groups of all ages, including children, teenagers and families. Jane is trained in several counselling modes including person-centred, cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), systemic, and psychodynamic, and draws on these 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 Verger 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 clergy family-life.
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 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.
During COVID-19 all counselling is being done via Zoom, Skype or on the phone. When face-to-face work becomes possible these virtual options will still remain, as some may prefer to avoid travelling to see Jane.
Please contact Jane if you feel that she could be of help.
Tel: 01603 417402