I am tired of this life!

 Author: Albright A Banibensu. Date:  February 3, 2020.

“I am tired of this life!” was her seemingly simple statement when we closed from our evening service. She said it absentmindedly as people stopped to meet and greet one another after the evening midweek religious service. Immediately responses followed: “You can’t say that!” “Shut up!” “A person of faith doesn’t speak that way!” were some of the words of rebuke from the “brethren.” Did these words help or hurt her? The fact is, this sister was having some real challenges and didn’t know what to do. Fortunately, one of the brethren, who was a Counselling Psychologist and heard the conversation, got in touch and scheduled a counselling session the next day. That was how a possible suicide case was averted.

Our faith-based communities and places of worship are fertile grounds for healing and restoring those who are going through all kinds of challenges to their daily living. Some of their issues do border on religious factors whilst others are social, emotional, economic, physical and mental in nature. Therefore, with the complement of people trained in specialized fields that can help the faith-based organizations, the leaders of these organizations will go a long way to fulfil their mandate of ministering to the spirit, soul and body of their followers better. Counselling Psychologists play such vital roles perfectly in our faith-based settings because of their training.


Basically, Counselling psychologists help people to manage change, either by adjusting to change or influencing change by lifestyle decisions. They may do this in one-on-one individual sessions or through group therapy in which people with similar problems are professionally selected and put in a well-defined group for help. Some of the common themes counselling psychologists work on in faith-based situations include personal wellbeing, interpersonal relationships (pre-marital and marital), work, recreation, health, and crisis management. Mostly, whereas the religious leaders and ministry team may have conflict of interest if engaged in some of these issues, an independent Counselling Psychologist is more neutral and seen as simply discharging his/her professional duties. Like Medical Doctors, Psychologists are trained in assessment, formulation of diagnosis and treatment planning. They work hand in glove with other professionals like Pastors, Imams, Medical Doctors, Social Workers, just to mention a few.


Having being a religious leader for 17years and having being in the Counselling ministry for over 23 years, I can attest that being trained as a Counselling psychologist made it a more rewarding experience. I can identify issues relating to social alienation and mental health easier and I have the tools and skills it takes to quite effectively separate the spiritual issues from the emotional, social, economic and physical ones and thus offer quality problem solving service. Not every problem in the faith-based setting is a spiritual issue. Being registered with the Ghana Psychology Council (which anyone who professes to be a Counsellor or psychotherapist in Ghana is required by law to do) further enhances my work. That gives me credibility and offers opportunities to receive continual further training and development.


Religious organizations can take advantage of the services of a Counselling Psychologist by either employing one (at least at their district organizational levels), contracting one, on an as-and-when-needed basis or have a Counselling psychologist come around to train their counselling teams for a more effective, professional and quality service delivery.


A religious leader who has employed a Counselling Psychologist to handle their counselling cases remarked: “I can now focus on ministry and not be too much afraid of what to preach, which might sound like somebody’s case. Now all my counselling concerns are being handled by a professional.”