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Professional Development Resources

Counseling the Pastor's Kid

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Overview / Abstract:

Counseling the Pastor’s Kid (PK) is a 3-hour online continuing education (CE) course that will provide clinicians with an understanding of the complex factors that cause stress in PKs, along with recommendations for prevention and treatment. It has been long observed that the ministry is one of the most frustrating and stressful working professions, due largely to the complex dynamics that exist between clergy and their congregations. Among the consequences of these pervasive stressors are high levels of chronic anxiety, depression, and burnout. What has received less focus and commentary is the plight of many of the children of these clergy – the “pastor’s kids.” Known in the vernacular as “PKs,” these children and adolescents are exposed to many of the same chronic stressors that take such a toll on their clergy parents. The differences are that the children (1) did not voluntary enter the ministry, (2) are not developmentally prepared to cope with complex adult stressors, and (3) do not have the opportunity to develop a sense of self free from the constraints of intense social pressure.

The goal and purpose of this course is to enable readers to understand the issues and stresses of a clergy family and how they affect the children in these families. It is likely that most mental health professionals will encounter clergy – and their children – among the clients they treat in their practices.

The course is divided into two parts. Part one focuses on the specific challenges PKs face growing up. These challenges fall into seven specific areas: 1) behavioral expectations imposed upon the child by family, church congregations, peers and self; 2) stereotypes imposed upon the child through psychological, sociological, and anthropological influences; 3) life experiences that are universally perceived by PKs as negative; 4) spiritual development; 5) blurring of parental boundaries; 6) psychosocial issues; and 7) coping mechanisms employed by the PK.

The second part focuses on 1) using Bowen’s Family Systems Theory as a basis for assessment and treatment of the PK and the family; 2) illustrating the use of a genogram as a viable tool in understanding multigenerational processes; and 3) suggestions for counselors and parents.

Course #30-93 | 2017 | 45 pages | 20 posttest questions


Dec 31, 2020


Counselor CE, Psychology CE, Social Work CE





Credits / Hours




Presenters / Authors / Faculty

Robert Gauger, DMin; Leo Christie, PhD, LMFT

Sponsors / Supporters / Grant Providers


Keywords / Search Terms

Professional Development Resources Counseling the Pastor’s Kid, CE Course, Online CE Course, Pastor's Kid

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