Skip to main content

Book: The Pastoral Handbook of Mental Illness

(First note: it took me five minutes to make sure the title was right, what with the capital “I” and the lower case “l”s right there beside each other.)

(Second note: this book was provided by Kregel Academic/Ministry for the review. Then I spilled coffee on it, set it aside to let it dry, and forgot to review it until the last minute.)

PastoralMentalIllnessSteve Bloem’s The Pastoral Handbook of Mental Illness is a useful tool in the minister’s toolbox. That’s the key line here: if you are a minister in a church, you should get this work and keep it on hand as you deal with people, especially as you deal with those who come to you for counseling. Why? Because most of us do not have counseling degrees. Most pastors and ministers spent some time in counseling classes, but that was mixed with courses on everything else that is involved in the day-to-day work of serving a church.

But, at times, we are the first people that our congregants ask about mental health questions. Perhaps the second, after they have asked a family care care doctor. And we are often ill-equipped for the questions. Bloem’s work helps crack open the door so that you can see the depth of what a problem may involve, which will help you see how to help alongside encouraging the individual to seek competent mental health care.

Which is a key aspect of this book: it is not here so that unlicensed individuals can play Sidney Freedman. The goal is that ministers will be equipped to guide those who have mental health issues to competent care.

The other use of this work, which is potentially more valuable, is that the minister becomes more equipped to broaden awareness of mental health problems and provide community support within the church. For too long, Bloem asserts, the church has not been a place where those with mental health issues can find care and support. He suggests that a general ignorance may be part of the problem. I’m inclined to agree.

The book starts with a rationale for its existence, which is helpful, and that is followed by an alphabetical reference section of major diagnoses. This is extremely useful for those times when someone comes to you and says “Pastor, my family member has been diagnosed with SAD. What does that mean, and what do I do?” You can turn right to Seasonal Affective Disorder, and see some suggestions of help.

The list is of major issues, and therefore is not exhaustive. I would have liked to have seen a bit about adult diagnoses on the autism spectrum, but there are some personal reasons for that. Overall, it is very helpful and gives you good guidelines.

The strength of this book is in the questions at the end. Bloem explains the difference in counseling models, highlights the Biblical reasons one might seek counseling, and addresses some other common questions.

In all, this one should be part of the required texts for pastoral counseling classes and then kept on your shelf through your ministry years.

Book provided by Kregel Academic. They didn’t provide the coffee I spilled on it, though…


Popular posts from this blog

Book: By the Waters of Babylon

Worship. It is what the church does as we strive to honor God with our lips and our lives. And then, many churches argue about worship. I have about a half-dozen books on my shelf about worship, but adding Scott Aniol’s By the Waters of Babylon to the shelf has been excellent.

First of all, Aniol’s work is not based on solving a musical debate. While that branch of worship is often the most troublesome in the local church, By the Waters of Babylon takes a broader view. The starting point is the place of the church. That place is a parallel of Psalm 137, where the people of God, Israel, found themselves in a strange land. The people of God, again, find themselves in a strange land.
Second, in summary, the book works logically to the text of Scripture, primarily Psalm 137 but well-filled with other passages. Then it works outward from how the text addresses the problems submitted in the first chapter into how worship, specifically corporate worship, should look in the 21st century Weste…

Put Down That Tablet! Exodus 35

Moses assembles the people of Israel at Sinai one last time before they set out into the wilderness, headed for the Promised Land. He gives them a reminder of some portions of the commands of God and emphasizes the construction of the Tabernacle (Exodus 35 link).He also gives the one Biblical mention of tablet-type mobile devices in Exodus 35:3, where the command is given not to use your Kindle Fire on the Sabbath Day. Some of you just groaned. Some of you skipped the one-liner, and others just missed it. I’ll address you all in turn, but first let us address the person who thought this might be the hidden meaning of that command. After all, we are so easily distracted from our worship and commitment by all of the digital noise around us, why would we not take this text in this manner?The quite simple answer is: because it is not about digital devices. In total, the command to focus the day on Yahweh, Covenant God of Israel and all of Creation, and if your device subtracts from your f…

Book Review: The Heart Mender by @andyandrews (Andy Andrews)

The Heart Mender: A Story of Second ChancesEver read a book that you just kind of wish is true?  That's my take on The Heart Mender by Andy Andrews.  It's a charming story of love and forgiveness, and it's woven into the historical setting of World War II America.  For the narrative alone, the book is worth the read, but the message it contains is well worth absorbing as well.However, let's drop back a minute.  This book was originally published under the title Island of Saints.  I read Island of Saints and enjoyed it greatly.  Now, Andrews has released it under a new title, with a few minor changes.  All of this is explained in the Author's Note at the beginning, but should be noted for purchaser's sake.  If you read Island of Saints, you're rereading when you read The Heart Mender.  Now, go ahead and reread it.  It will not hurt you one bit.Overall, the story is well-paced.  There are points where I'd like more detail, both in the history and the geog…