Ann OBrien addresses the Roundtable

Ann O’Brien addresses the Roundtable

Oct 2010

As a Senior Manager in Centacare Catholic Social Services – Diocese of Parramatta I have the responsibility for many of the services our organisation provides encompassing marriage and family counselling and marriage, family and relationship education. I also carry a small caseload of counselling clients and provide clinical supervision to a small number of counsellors.

One of the major difficulties I encounter is recruiting appropriately qualified counsellors (generally social workers and psychologists) who are also active or participatory enough in the Catholic faith to provide counselling to those Catholic clients who request a Catholic counsellor. Many clients view a Catholic counsellor as having a focus that values the sanctity of marriage and one who will work with them to improve their relationship. Many Catholic couples have a trust in our organisation that we will not work towards separation if it is possible and not a safety risk for the couple to remain married.

Supervision and training is therefore also an issue for any appropriately qualified marriage and relationship counsellors who are working with couples in the context of their catholic faith and their sacramental marriage. Starting point has to be professional competency and then formation in Marriage Counselling in the Catholic Perspective. Clinical supervision with a focus on counselling in the context of Catholic Marriage also needs to be available as a resource and support for counsellors undertaking this work. In many ways this is a specialist field and needs to be looked at as “specialist training”. Currently this needs to be provided “in house”, so it would be very helpful to have specialist training available.
Marriage Counselling in the Catholic context gives us the opportunity to offer HOPE (as that is the basis of our faith). Giving the message that change, forgiveness and growth is possible.

Would welcome a “network” of Catholic Marriage counsellors as a resource.

Ann O’Brien

Senior Manager, Centacare Catholic Social Services, Diocese of Parramatta