It is not unusual for Bishops to refer people to trained therapists or psychiatrists. I was very blessed to have a therapist who was also a Bishop (in another ward) so he understood my foundation in the gospel. It's not always possible to find someone like this, but there are also some good therapists who are not members of the church. I highly recommend it. You may not hit on the right one for you the first time, but keep looking until you find someone who can help. It is essential that they understand your moral foundation, so be clear with them about that.
As a General Authority Seventy who came to our stake some years ago said in leadership meeting, "I don't know where or why members get the idea that Bishops are marriage counselors". Having said that I know it's natural for many members to seek counsel from their Bishop because they recognize or feel that mantel that the Bishop has or they have been taught that's who you go to. Certainly there has been good advice and comfort given by many Bishops in regards to marriage or life problems but their main responsibility is spiritual. But that also doesn't mean a trained counselor or therapist always has answers and may even say things that are contrary to gospel standards or may make things worse.
thanks for the message I hope we are receiving it loud and clear!
Years ago my then-husband and I had a question we needed our bishop's help to resolve. The ensuing discussion led us off-topic and into areas that we had not planned on discussing. My ex came away totally angry and surely thinking that our bishop had no insight or inspiration. I tried to reassure him. Bishops lead their own lives and are not experts on everything that might come up. Of course, we want them to be considerate of our needs and to give spiritual guidance, but sometimes they may have to refer to the Church Handbook for guidance or accurate policy as well. My ex saw that as a weakness in our bishop. For a number of reasons, we divorced a year or so later. I became a single mother, and it was not easy. In my new ward, a close friend received much support and assistance from our bishop. Though I felt the bishop knew my situation, I felt I had to figure many things out on my own. I believe the Lord knew my strengths and what I could handle, and I (and my child) survived those difficult years.
Some highlights that I appreciated from this article:
- Speak clearly about the direct impact their [the bishops'] words and actions have on those they serve ... say something directly to him.
- “Good inspiration is based upon good information,” which “includes your own thoughts, feelings, and experiences.”
- “there’s no requirement for you to counsel with your bishop … if … trust isn’t earned … it’s okay to move on and seek other support”
- “you have the right to discern if … counsel is helpful”
- “be clear with yourself about your expectations of the bishop”
I have had overwhelmingly positive experiences with the many bishops I have encountered and with whom I have served, but I know people who have had negative ones as well, so I appreciate this informative article. Bishops are people, and every, single person born into this world has been imperfect, with one Exception. We grow because of and in spite of one another, bishops included. I am grateful that the atonement of our Savior ultimately applies to everyone, including bishops :)
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