Clergy are listed among administrators, social workers, healthcare providers, fire fighters, and police officers as professionals with high levels of occupational stress (Hill et al., 2003; Greenberg, 1990). Clergy are valuable resources to the American culture in that they perform an array of services to comfort and assist others. From natural catastrophes to personal misfortune, pastors are often expected to be present to offer consolation or to extend ecclesiastical services. Researchers have found that pastors are the primary mental health counselors for tens of millions of Americans (Weaver et al., 2002). Darling et al. (2004) report, "Clergy in U.S. culture stand at the forefront of helping people during troubled times. They are frequently called upon to support individuals in personal crises...they often work long hours and place the concerns of their congregation and community before their own personal and familial issues (p. 261)". It is this type of sacrifice that makes the clergy professional so valuable, but potentially deleterious to the pastor's health and overall well-being.

For decades the clergy profession has been noted for excessive demands, intrusions, emotional and physical exhaustion, often at the expense of the pastor's family (Lee, 2000). The demands of the pastorate often create familial, emotional, and physical catastrophes, which affect the pastor's well being, family dynamics, and social support system (Morris & Blanton, 1994 a). Lee and Iverson-Gilbert (2003) noted that pastors occasionally experience interactions of a personally critical and demanding nature in the church that detrimentally affect the pastor's subjective well-being (Krause et al., 1998). Given the nature of the clergy profession and the expectations to uphold unrealistic standards of behavior, pastors may find it difficult to get assistance for themselves (Hill, Darling, & Raimondi, 2003).

As a result of the qualitative study, the Clergy Family Program (CFP) was created to provide a safe nonjudgmental therapeutic environment to assist clergy and their families in dealing with their personal and familial needs that are often overlooked largely because of the nature of the pastoral profession. The CFP will provide social support networks that will assist in creating new relationships with others outside the pastor's ministry and help to better facilitate the boundary making process that is often challenging for pastor-parishioner relationship. That is, the CFP will address boundary issues within the family and ministry context; the goal is to empower pastors to effectively respond to ministry demands, congregational intrusions, and to avoid triangulation as they serve their parishioners. It is also the goal of the CFP to assist pastors in securing their financial futures by providing economic counsel by a financial analyst. Not unlike other families, lack of adequate economic resources is especially an important source of stress for pastors who are often restricted in the extent to which they can share their financial struggles with others. It is expected that providing a program that focuses on addressing, reducing, and potentially eliminating some of the stressors for pastors will improve the emotional, marital, financial well being of pastors and their spouses. It is also the view that the pastor's and their spouse's participation in the CFP will create new social support networks that are often limited within this profession. Marriage and Family therapists have become increasing interested in understanding the ways in which interventions with a systemic worldview may be beneficial to families including professional families. The study of Clergy families is one area that fits within this emphasis.

LLU Discipline

Marital and Family Therapy


Counseling and Family Sciences


School of Science and Technology

First Advisor

Colwick Wilson

Second Advisor

Doug Huenergardt

Third Advisor

Siroj Sorajjakool

Degree Name

Doctor of Marital and Family Therapy (DMFT)

Degree Level


Year Degree Awarded


Date (Title Page)




Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings

Clergy -- Office -- Psychological aspects; Clergy -- Mental health; Clergy -- Job stress; Stress management; Clergy -- Counseling of; Clergy -- Family relations; Family therapy; Narrative therapy; Educational counseling; Seventh-day Adventists -- Clergy


Doctoral Project

Page Count

xii; 98

Digital Format


Digital Publisher

Loma Linda University Libraries

Usage Rights

This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.


Loma Linda University Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Collection Website



Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives