Select Page

313 | A Cord of Three Strands: Intentional Collaboration Between Counselor, Church, and Focused Support Groups

Friday 9/15 8:45 – 10:00 AM, Mental Health and the Mission of the Church, Workshop Tracks


Brent Van Elswyk, D.Min.; Wendy Mahill, B.S.



Approved For CE

Licensed Professional Counselors, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists, Licensed Clinical Social Workers, Pastors, Pastoral Counselors, Lay Counselors, Coaches

Approved For CME/CEU




All licensed mental health professionals and ministry leaders desire to improve treatment outcomes for hurting people. In the same way that physical healthcare has become more specialized in recent years, so has mental healthcare, resulting in a growing number of options for care. The number of people suffering from sexual trauma/abuse, sexual addiction, eating disorders, marital strife, dysfunctional relationships, divorce, grief, etc. is enormous and growing. Yet, many Christians are unsure where to go for help. Should they go to the Church, a clinician, or a support group? Why not all three? (Farrell and Goebert, 2008; Breuninger, Dolan, Padilla, and Stanford, 2014; Sullivan, Pyne, Cheney, Hunt, Haynes, and Sullivan, 2017). What might impact treatment outcomes if there was increased, intentional collaboration between the clinician, the pastoral counselor, and the leaders of focused support groups (Prov. 11:14)? One of the obstacles to improved treatment outcomes has been the lack of collaboration between the clinician and the Church (McMinn, Aikins, and Lish, 2003; Oppenheimer, Flannelly, and Weaver, 2004; McMinn, Vogel, and Heyne, 2010; Milstein, Middel, and Espinosa, 2017). This workshop will identify and discuss the impact of increased and intentional collaboration on client outcomes. The presenters will demonstrate how clinicians, teaming up with pastoral counselors and focused support group leaders, provide a more comprehensive care system to those in need. Encouraging the hurting to participate in focused support groups, pastoral counseling, and professional therapy concurrently will improve treatment outcomes that exceed those working in only one of these settings. Increased collaboration will then increase the effectiveness of each individual setting.

Learning Objectives

1. Discuss the benefits and obstacles to helping those suffering from mental health and trauma issues through increased, intentional collaboration between clinician, pastoral counselor, and focused support group leader
2. Identify and explore specific strategies for increased collaboration and networking between focused support groups, therapy groups, clinicians, and the Church to enhance treatment outcomes for clients
3. Demonstrate how pastors, trained lay counselors, support group leaders, and licensed clinicians can collaborate to help hurting people in their communities
Register For World Conference