Counseling the Pastor’s Kid (PK)

New Online CE Course @

Counseling the Pastor’s Kid (PK)Counseling the Pastor's Kid 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.

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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 Pastor’s Kids 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

Professional Development Resources
is approved to sponsor continuing education by the American Psychological Association (APA); the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC ACEP #5590); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB #1046, ACE Program); the Florida Boards of Clinical Social Work, Marriage & Family Therapy, and Mental Health Counseling (#BAP346) and Psychology & School Psychology (#50-1635); the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board (#RCST100501); the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs (#193); and the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists (#114) and State Board of Social Worker Examiners (#5678).

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The Perfect Amount of Stress

By Thea Singer

Stress is a killer and a life force. How can you tell the good from the bad, and too little from too much?

The Perfect Amount of StressYour company’s revenues are shrinking. Your kids need braces—and hundreds of thousands of dollars for college just down the road. Your aging father has landed in the hospital again. And now that idiot driver on your left is swerving into your lane as he yaks on his cell phone. You might just snap.

Stress, when it’s chronic or repeated, does more than unnerve us; it can make us physically sick. It dampens the immune system and dries out the digestive tract, setting the stage for disorders from irritable bowel syndrome to ulcerative colitis. It impairs memory and in extreme cases fuels anxiety. It can even gnaw away at the ends of chromosomes, thereby accelerating cellular aging.

It may come as a surprise, then, to learn that this villain is also—paradoxically—a wellspring of life. Without stress, we’d be as good as dead. We wouldn’t have the gumption to slalom down Whistler’s mountains to Olympic gold, to play Juliet to our Romeo, to ask the boss for a raise, or even to get out of bed.

That’s because stress in appropriate amounts is the very stimulation that keeps us engaged with the world moment to moment.

When the brain perceives a stimulus, the sympathetic nervous system kicks into gear. It tells the adrenal glands to release the first stress hormone, epinephrine (aka adrenaline). Epinephrine dilates the bronchial tubes in the lungs to make space for more oxygen and charges the heart, enabling more blood to push through. It dilates the blood vessels leading away from the heart, too, so that oxygenated blood can flow freely to where it’s needed most: the brain and the muscles, which must be ready to flee or fight.

Next, the hormone norepinephrine spurts from the nerve endings of the sympathetic nervous system. Norepinephrine constricts the veins leading to the heart so returning blood can slam more powerfully into the chamber and exit with even more force. It constricts the arteries leading to the skin, too, to slow down bleeding in the event of an injury.

Finally, the third—and major—stress hormone, cortisol, joins the party, also emanating from the adrenal glands, to mobilize cells’ stored energy and to keep the rations coming for the duration of the stressor. In nonemergency situations, cortisol follows the body’s circadian rhythms: It’s highest in the early morning—time to wake up—and lowest at night.

“Our goal isn’t a life without stress,” Stanford University neurobiologist Robert M. Sapolsky says. “The idea is to have the right amount of stress.” That means stressors that are short-lived and manageable.

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Helping the Helpers of Alzheimer’s

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there are approximately 5.3 million people in the U.S. who have Alzheimer’s and nearly 11 million unpaid caregivers involved in their daily care. It is the 7th leading cause of death, and it costs us around 172 billion dollars each year. While there are a number of causes of dementia, Alzheimer’s is the most common type, accounting for 60-80% of cases. In advanced Alzheimer’s, people need help with bathing, dressing, using the bathroom, eating, and other daily activities. Those in the final stages of the disease lose their ability to communicate, fail to recognize loved ones, and become bed-bound and are reliant on 24/7 care. Their needs can become an almost unbearable burden for their caregivers.

alzheimer's continuing education“This is where family members and other unpaid caregivers begin to come to the attention of health and mental health professionals,” says Leo Christie, PhD, CEO of Professional Development Resources. “While most caregivers are proud of the help they provide, many of them also experience very high levels of stress and depression associated with their caregiving roles. One study showed that family members who provided care to a person with dementia spent at least 46 hours per week assisting the person in the last year before the person’s death. The majority felt they were on duty 24 hours a day. Our goal is to provide continuing education (CE) courses that give professionals the tools they need to help the helpers.”

Negative health effects can run the gamut from stress to heart disease. Research has indicated that caregivers – many of whom are elderly themselves – may show high levels of stress hormones, reduced immune function, new hypertension, and new coronary heart disease. In one study, 24% of spouse caregivers had at least one ER visit or hospitalization in the previous six months. Mental health effects include severe stress and depression. There are also social and economic impacts, such as isolation and reduced employment.

“Our main task is to convince caregivers that it’s OK to ask for help and take time for themselves,” adds Christie. “They feel that they should be able to do everything themselves, that it’s not all right to leave the person with someone else, that no one will help even if they ask, or that they don’t have the money to pay someone to watch the person for an hour or two. It all adds up to burnout.”

Among the Alzheimer’s courses offered by Professional Development Resources are:

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