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Mental Health Matters Series


Learn the knowledge and skills for managing and intervening when mental health concerns arise arise in diocesan settings and religious life.

8 hours

Product Description

I. Mental Health 101

Presenter: Br. John Mark Falkenhain, OSB, Ph.D.

In the introduction to the series, Br. John Mark Falkenhain outlines the four main domains of psychological functioning (i.e., affect, behavior, cognition and interpersonal functioning) and begins to describe the dynamics of healthy and unhealthy functioning within each. Constructs of severity, disorder, comorbidity and impairment of functioning will be discussed. This presentation includes a preview of the remaining sessions in the series, providing an overall framework for thinking about mental health concerns when working with men and women in screening, formation and personnel settings.

II. Relationship: Understanding Personality Disorders

Presenter: Emily R. Cash, Psy.D.

Personality disorders are distinguished by deeply ingrained, maladaptive personality traits with problematic consequences for personal and professional relationships. Emily R. Cash, Psy.D., discusses the key characteristics of personality disorders and explores problematic personality traits commonly found among individuals drawn towards service in the Church. Participants will learn about some of the personality-related obstacles to formation and participate in case study discussion.

III. Behavior: Understanding Addictions & Compulsions

Presenter: Msgr. Stephen J. Rossetti, Ph.D., D.Min.

Msgr. Stephen J. Rossetti, Ph.D., D.Min. reviews some of the common “addictions” that typically affect priests and men and women religious and discusses diagnosis, treatment and long-term prognosis. Should you take someone with compulsive behaviors? What is the best treatment? What does the long-term picture look like? Msgr. Rossetti will make the case that in these changing and challenging times, the “bar” for formation and active ministry has been and must continue to be raised.

IV. Affect: Understanding Mood & Anxiety Disorders

Presenter: Crystal Taylor-Dietz, Psy.D.

Crystal Taylor-Dietz, Psy.D., focuses on understanding affect and emotional regulation and what happens when “typical” mood states and anxiety move towards symptoms of mood and anxiety disorders. Participants will learn about some of the most common mood and anxiety disorders, along with contributing factors, symptoms and effective treatments for each. Dr. Taylor-Dietz offers examples of how mood and anxiety disorders present in a ministry setting and includes strategies for intervention and support.

V. Dealing with Histories of Trauma & Abuse

Presenter: Br. John Mark Falkenhain, OSB, Ph.D.

Br. John Mark Falkenhain, OSB, Ph.D., examines the considerations for discerning and working in formation with individuals who have suffered trauma and various types of abuse. Participants will learn about prevalence of abuse histories among candidates for religious life and priesthood, factors associated with long-term adjustment, the interaction of abuse history and motives for celibacy, and trust as a key variable in openness to formation.

VI. How to Participate in Evaluation & Treatment

Presenter:  Rev. David Songy, O.F.M.Cap., S.T.D., Psy.D.

Rev. David Songy, O.F.M.Cap., S.T.D., Psy.D., explores the practical considerations for formators accompanying a seminarian, priest or religious community member receiving psychological services. Topics to be addressed include: strategies for making a referral, responsibilities of formators during the evaluation or treatment process, how to implement clinical recommendations, and managing the fine balance of respecting confidentiality and maintaining accountability.

VII. Internet Pornography & Online Addictions

Presenter: Emily R. Cash, Psy.D.

Internet pornography and online addiction pose a unique formation challenge for those called to the priesthood and religious life. Emily R. Cash, Psy.D., examines trends in problematic online behavior among seminarians and those discerning a call to consecrated life. Participants will learn the warning signs and risk factors and obtain practical skills and intervention strategies for responding effectively to individuals struggling with this issue.

VIII. Cognition: Intelligence, Learning & the Autism Spectrum

Presenter: Br. John Mark Falkenhain, OSB, Ph.D.

Br. John Mark Falkenhain, OSB, Ph.D., explores the fundamental constructs of intelligence and adaptive functioning and the implications of these for formation, ministry and community life. The presentation emphasizes better understanding learning disabilities and autism spectrum disorder (sometimes referred to as Asperger’s disorder) while asking the ultimate question: Should our community/diocese accept an individual who has these challenges?

Course Learning Outcomes

Participants will:

  • Be able to identify the four major domains of psychological functioning and how they are involved in specific disorders;
  • Be able to recognize some of the mental health problems that commonly arise among men and women pursuing priesthood, religious life and ministry in the Church;
  • Grow in their understanding of the implications of mental health concerns for successful ministry and community life in the Church;
  • Gain a deeper understanding of the Church’s documents on formation for priesthood and religious on the specific topics of human formation and affective maturity; and
  • Gain a greater appreciation for the relevance of contemporary social science for priestly and religious formation.