Part 1: Getting, offering, or demanding help…what are some suggestions?

Hi Theresa. I want to go in a new direction, talking about getting help. I am often asked when I speak to missions or churches: "How does one know when one needs counseling?" I am asked that by people for themselves, because, evidently I can come across as trustworthy! (?) I am also asked that by people who are wondering how to help a loved one whom they think is struggling. And finally, I am asked that by mission or church leaders who are concerned about a member of their team (as in “employee” or “colleague”).


I have a standard response to the first two questioners. I see life as full of successes, difficulties, failures, opportunities and challenges. As a result of these, we may become stressed, and at some points our normal coping mechanisms don’t work like they usually do. We may sense this, or those around us may pick it up before we do. I usually encourage people with this question to first seek out their trusted sounding boards, like friends, pastor, etc., and get a reading on what these folks see. I also ask people to engage in self-reflection. Does the stress or struggle they are feeling intruding into daily life? Does it show up every day in different behaviors or symptoms that aren’t usual? For example, feelings thoughts or attitudes of fear, anger, depressed thinking, and avoidance may show the extent to which the person is not functioning effectively. These are markers that may mean a person could use some help. At this point, most people in the discussion will see what they are troubled by. This helps them to think through the best path towards restoration and renewal.

My question for you has to do with the third issue, that of the organizational leader who sees a staff member or employee experiencing difficulties. What can they legally do to facilitate healing? How much influence can they bring to bear on that person to get care? How much can they impose consequences for noncompliance or continued problematic behaviors.

I wonder if you could give a few points that would chart the landscape for us in this dialogue?

More articles in this series: Part 2

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