Logo der NAK NAK Kirchentag 2014

Pastoral care can help –also for the Psychologist!

(07.06.2014) Many visitors were interested in the theme of the Podium discussion „Psychotherapy and Faith – an area of conflict“, and come on Saturday to the Kleinen Olympiahalle. More than one District Churches worked together and came to the conclusion, both can be combined and also complement each other.

Participants of the discussion were Diplom (master degree in Germany)-Psychologist Ellen Bruckmayer, Priest Uwe Jakob and Juergen Sommerer, both active as Psychotherapist, and Bishop Manfred Bruns from District Church North Rhine-Westphalia. The Moderator was Bishop Rolf Ludwig (District Church South Germany), who himself is physician.

A letter from a psychologically ill sister in faith to her pastor was read to the audience. “A call for urgent help”, mentioned Ellen Bruckmayer in her presentation. It was an inner conflict between hopeless and hope of help, also a conflict between nothing can be done with this psychic illness and the hope, God may fulfill a miracle.

“Hopelessness is a typical sign of depression”, stated the Psychologist and mentioned many other psychic illnesses and mental disorders.  Statistics show that 33% of all German people get ill every year.  Mental disorders are main reason for stationary treatments in hospitals, even more than therapies for Heart-attacks, etc. It looks like a true widespread disease.

The referee talked about symptoms, cause and different ways of treatment. Then she focused on the area of conflicts.

In the following Podium discussion Bishop Ludwig moderated the question, how does mental -disorders influence the live in faith? Some examples: A person can’t concentrate to his prayer or follow the service any more. A sister in faith suffers on claustrophobia and can’t sit in the crowded church. A brother in faith doesn’t accept a soul-care-visit, because he believes the pastor and all other people are against him.

In following discussions it became more and more clear, that soul care is able to help.  Prayer helps! The pastor can listen, show understanding and recommend a therapy. He can help to work for a condition for a successful treatment.

Believe to the loving God provide sense and values, stated psychiatrist Uwe Jakob. This faith is not able to prevent a depression, but supports healing.  A sister expressed after the treatment:  ”I  feel fear, but I have inner satisfaction.

Ellen Bruckmayer asked soul-care servants in the audience to be careful with concrete suggestions, which belong to the competence of a doctor, and also not to intervene in a running therapy.

It’ wise not to force too much to reconciliation in the sense of Holy Communion. It may take years and it is a hard and log way to overcome guilt pangs, if they are caused by the illness. Bishop Bruns added, a pastor can take pressure away, when he mentions that Holy Communion is an Offering of God himself which supports this process for forgiveness.

Finally Ellen Bruckmayer talked about a question, asked before: what need to be done in case of suspicion of a psychic illness which may lead to suicide. It’s important to come to a clear diagnosis. Suicide is the main reason for death but the signs to it are often hidden.  In case of a suspicion it needs to be asked more intensive. If a dangerous situation is foreseen, the pastoral discretion ends and the patient must not be left alone and it needs to drive for professional help.

To conclude:  Faith helps the patient and the therapist, who takes care of the patient. In the end, soul-care servants and therapists want the same: Health to them, who they take care of.


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