Work with Clergy and with Religious Institutions

Clinical Work with Clergy

Psychotherapy: I have long worked with priests, deacons, seminarians, and men and women religious to address psychological needs while incorporating an understanding of and respect for their spiritual beliefs. This work includes dealing with diagonseable psychological conditions (e.g., depression, anxiety) as well as problem related to identity, satisfaction with life choices, and challenges in ministry.

Psychological Testing: Since 2006, I have been conducting evaluations to assess individuals applying for admission to seminaries (priesthood) and formation programs (men and women religious; priests in religious orders, permanent diaconate). These evaluations have primarily been for individuals applying for formation within the Roman Catholic church, but have included other denominations such as the Greek Orthodox and Episcopal churches. I conduct these in both English and Spanish.

These evaluations are to help assure to the degree possible the psychological and developmental health of the applicant, suitability for formation, and the broad cognitive ability to complete educational demands. They also include an assessment of risk factors for sexual abuse/sexual acting out. These evaluations are considered by admissions committies alongside a broader portfolio of information about an applicant (e.g, recommendation letters, medical history, background check, financial background check, other interviews) to help determine suitability for admission to these programs. These evaluations typically include:

  • Clinical interview for personal history, diagnostic assessment and sexual history.

  • Cognitive assessment

  • Objective personality measures

  • Projective personality measures

Multidisciplinary Evaluations: I am part of the team that conducts multidisciplinary evaluations of male religious and priests when these have been accused of boundary violations or sexual abuse. I travel to and work with a team of professionals at the St. John Vianney Center in Downingtown, Pennsylvania. These evaluations provide diagnostic information about the individual and offer treatment recommendations to guide the individual and his/her superiors regarding continued ministry.

--


Child Abuse Prevention in Religious Settings

I been active in the field of child abuse prevention for almost 15 years, particularly among Roman Catholic clergy and in Catholic institutions. I have consulted to the Religous Education program at Holy Trinity Church (Washington, DC) on the implementation parish's child protection policies and the diocesan child protection curriculum, including presenting the curriculum to middle and high school students in the religious education program. In addition, I chaired the parish's Education Committee and proposed a comprehensive program on this issue to the Parish Pastoral Council.

I chaired a regional Review Board (2005-2010) that advised leaders of religious orders on their child protection practices, policies, and the supervision of offending members of their orders. This role included working with six religious orders as they underwent the process of accreditation by Praesidium, Inc. to assure each order's implementation of best practices for child abuse prevention.

I also recently ended a three-year term (2014-2017) as Vice-Chair of the National Advisory Council for the Conference of Majors Superiors of Men (CMSM). This council advises the CMSM's Executive Board on child abuse prevention policies that affect their membership of over 17,000 men in the priesthood and religious life in the United States. I continue to serve on the NAC as secretary.