Covid Care group for Pastors

The Centre For Effective Living recognises that the COVID-19 pandemic has left many in ministry with a sense of dismay about how to cope, manage change, care for their congregations and forecast for the new realities ahead.  As a result, Valerie Ling, Clinical Psychologist, has launched a 6-week group support programme for ministers to address these issues.

The evidence from other national and international crises is that experiences such as these are profoundly transformational for individuals. The transformation will not only be short-term, in terms of developing resiliency (the immediate ability to bounce back in times of adversity). A crisis such as this will also bring about a prolonged struggle, as ministry workers deconstruct their sense of self, ideas of church, and watch those around them go through significant suffering. 

As psychologists, we understand these processes as post-traumatic transformation and growth.  The mechanism to support individuals through this process is beyond what could be achieved through simply imparting knowledge and information.  Instead, ministry workers need the opportunity to reflect on, evaluate and learn from their experiences, with the assistance of professionals who understand the psychological impact and needs of such a process.

The sessions being offered by Valerie are designed to provide this kind of professional support.


The group sessions would cover the following topics:

Group Session 1

Post traumatic growth and transformation: unpacking what it means to ourselves and our congregations after natural disasters. Specifically, helping our congregations and ourselves to cope with the grief, loss and meaning anchors in our world which have been disrupted.

Group Session 2

Stress and anxiety management for ministry folk during COVID-19, working from home and parenting in small proximities.

Group Session 3

Sharpening our ministry values and convictions and clarifying where our energy for ministry is best focused on. Burnout from role ambivalence is typical in the ministry space, and made all the more complicated now that our roles and ways of doing things have shifted.

Group Session 4

Resiliency and care during COVID-19. Creating new rhythms, routines and personal, spiritual resourcing for resiliency. This is really re-looking what we already know of ministry resiliency factors and catering to the different scenarios that we face when we cannot meet others, and are juggling collision of home, work and personal breathing space.

Group Session 5

The new normal -  ministers may feel lost to work through the uncertainty of what the future looks like. How to "forecast" with little data and when decision points keep shifting.  Working through clinical underpinnings of uncertainty, worry, decision making fatigue and what to do with this. 

Group Session 6

Working with others, meeting and group dynamics. There is a level of newness to working through staff and group dynamics through online platforms.  This is meant to impart skills that counsellors have used to manage things like checking in with people, knowing how long to hold a meeting for, debriefing, knowing the paradigms and functions of group dynamics.


Given that the groups are designed not simply to provide information, but to support participants through the transformation process, the sessions will incorporate the following elements:

  • Reflective exercises;
  • Group discussions;
  • Hearing the experiences of ministry peers within the group;
  • Implementing strategies;
  • Opportunities for questions

Group Details

The details for the groups are as follows:

  • They would be targeted towards pastors 
  • The sessions would begin on Wednesday 20 May and run for 6 consecutive Wednesdays until 24 June.
  • The sessions will be 90 minutes in length
  • Each group would cater for no more than 10.
  • The cost would be $250 per person for the 6 sessions. 
  • The groups would be offered via the Zoom platform, with which Valerie is very familiar and has previously used extensively for therapy and group sessions.