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REG. $39

Counseling the Pastor's Kid

Robert Gauger, DMin; Leo Christie, PhD, LMFT

CE Credit: 3 Hours

Target Audience: Psychology CE | Counseling CE | Social Work CE | Marriage & Family Therapy CE | School Psychology CE

Learning Level: Intermediate

Course Type: Online

Course Abstract

Counseling the Pastor’s Kid (PK) 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.

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 PKs 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.

Closeout Course #30-93 | 2017 | 45 pages | 20 posttest questions

Learning Objectives

1.Identify expectations that can have deleterious effects on the development of PKs
2.List stereotypes that impose conflicting pressures on the PK
3.Identify life experiences that are common in the lives of clergy and their families
4.Describe coping mechanisms that PKs use to survive in the clergy home
5.Identify the basic elements of Bowen’s Family Systems Theory
6.List family dynamics that need to be addressed in the process of therapy with clergy families

Professional Development Resources is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. Professional Development Resources maintains responsibility for this program and its content. Professional Development Resources is also approved by the Florida Board of Psychology and the Office of School Psychology and is CE Broker compliant (#50-1635 - all courses are reported within two business days of completion). Professional Development Resources, Inc. is recognized by the New York State Education Department’s State Board for Psychology as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed psychologists (#PSY-0145).


This online course provides instant access to the course materials (PDF download) and CE test. The course is text-based (reading) and the CE test is open-book (you can print the test to mark your answers on it while reading the course document).

Successful completion of this course involves passing an online test (80% required, 3 chances to take) and we ask that you also complete a brief course evaluation. Click here to learn more.

Have a question? Contact us. We’re here to help!

About the Author(s)

Robert Gauger, DMinhas served as a full-time minister for over 30 years. He was a parish minister for 27 years, and has also been a hospital chaplain in Jacksonville, Florida. Currently he is a hospice chaplain. Bob holds a Masters degree from Southern Seminary (KY) and a Doctorate Degree from Regent University (VA) with honors. His own personal experiences of depression and stress in ministry have drawn a special interest and focus on the topic in his life, as have his experiences with family suicidal attempts. Bob enjoys playing the trombone and through the years has played with many professional orchestras. 

Financial: No relevant financial relationships exist.
: No relevant nonfinancial relationships exist.

Leo Christie, PhD, LMFT, is a Florida-licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with a doctorate in Marriage and Family Therapy from Florida State University. Past President of the Florida Council on Family Relations, Dr. Christie is a past CEO of Professional Development Resources, a nonprofit corporation whose mission is to deliver continuing education credit courses to healthcare professionals throughout the United States. He has more than 20 years' experience in private practice with a specialty in child behavior disorders and as an instructor for over 500 live continuing education seminars for healthcare professionals.

: Receives a salary from Professional Development Resources, Inc.
: No relevant nonfinancial relationships exist. 

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