What is the place of psychological counseling in the Church?
January 1971

“What is the place of psychological counseling in the Church?” New Era, Jan. 1971, 10–11

What is the place of psychological counseling in the Church? When do you see the bishop, and when do you see a counselor—or can you do both?

Answer/Elder Marvin J. Ashton

The Father has always had helpers in his kingdom: his Son to create the world, Adam and Eve to begin the mortal race, and all manner of men for all manner of tasks. God did not do it all by himself. He did direct the creation, the procreation of mankind, and all that has concerned this earth; however, he had help, and with that help he was able to accomplish that which he set about to do.

Our biological and environmental scientists assist our Father in heaven, as do professional counselors and other professional people dedicated to helping man live more effectively with himself and his fellow beings.

Trained counselors are an essential source of help as they work with the priesthood leaders, and as bishops work through them to help members. It is important that we continue to allow God to direct us in whatever is our assignment, and that we use our talents as required by the Lord.

As the father of the ward, the bishop has the responsibility of caring for the spiritual, temporal, and social welfare of his ward members. What a blessing it is that he does not have to maintain this welfare alone.

There is a social service task committee in every stake in the Church. This committee is comprised of specifically assigned high councilors who are responsible for the social-emotional needs within a stake.

When the bishop needs a trained counselor to help him with some social-emotional need within the ward and there are no members in his ward with such a professional background, he may turn to the stake social services task committee. This committee will then call on one or more of the resource people within the stake who have been called to serve in, such a capacity because of their abilities. The bishop, of course, is to direct and supervise any assistance given to any member of his ward.

The place of psychological counseling in the Church is under the supervision of the bishop, and one sees a counselor at the suggestion of the bishop. Perhaps we may follow the pattern set in the First Vision. The bishop may introduce a member in need to someone in whom he has confidence, and suggest that the member in need listen to the counsel of this person. Hopefully, through the joint efforts of the individual, the bishop, and the counselor, a better way of life will be realized.

  • Assistant to the Council of the Twelve and Managing Director of Unified Social Services