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Becoming a Healthier Pastor (Creative Pastoral Care and Counseling) [Paperback]

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Item Number 145408  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   150
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.4" Width: 5.4" Height: 0.5"
Weight:   0.5 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Dec 1, 2004
Publisher   Augsburg Fortress Publishers
ISBN  0800636392  
EAN  9780800636395  

Availability  0 units.

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Item Description...
This is a follow-up to Richardson's successful Creating a Healthier Church, which was called "1999 Book of the Year" by the Academy of Parish Clergy. Applies the popular family systems thinking of the late Murray Bowan to leadership styles in the church and the pastor's own family.

Publishers Description
Among the most helpful and widely acclaimed resources for addressing church conflict and the quality of church life is Richardson's groundbreaking volume Creating a Healthier Church (Fortress Press, 1996). His application of family systems theory to congregational life has enormously clarified its operative systems and especially its emotional system. In this sequel, Richardson employs the same methodology to address the roots of personal issues that may hinder pastors' ability to function effectively as leaders within their congregations, and may in fact cause them deep difficulties. He especially addresses pastors' own families of origin, a major but often hidden component in how they function emotionally in their congregations. When anxiety arises, unresolved familial issues and old family patterns return, often unhelpfully. Richardson explores these patterns, how they operate in church situations, and how pastors can do their own family-of-origin assessment. His volume will become a standard tool for analysis of patterns in ministerial behavior and developing strong personal effectiveness.

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More About Ronald W. Richardson

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Born at the end of the 1930's, Ron Richardson started life in Missouri, grew up in Los Angeles, graduated from UCLA, Princeton Seminary, and the Colgate/Rochester Divinity School. He worked as a pastor in two Northeastern US cities for ten years, before he became a Marriage and Family Therapist and Pastoral Counselor. He moved to Vancouver, BC (Canada) in the mid seventies and eventually became the Executive Director of the North Shore Counseling Centre. The Centre grew rapidly under his leadership and had 8 field offices around greater Vancouver and a clinical staff of 30 therapists. He retired in 1995. His books are based on his own clinical practice with clients and his teaching work with students from various clinical disciplines, as well as with clergy of different denominations. Ron adopted Bowen Family Systems Theory as his preferred approach to practice early in his professional life. He also found it especially effective in his own family and marital life. Documenting this, he has recorded some of his personal family work in his book "Becoming a Healthier Pastor." He and his wife enjoy travel and are active outdoor enthusiasts. He does occasional workshops with people who are interested in Bowen Family Systems Theory.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
So, tell me about your mother...  Apr 13, 2007
Ronald Richardson is a retired pastor and counselor who has written "Becoming a Healthier Pastor" as an aid to pastors who want to begin a process of self-differentiation. The author advances the idea that a major obstacle to effective self-differentiation (which leads to regular, patterned conflicted relationships) is unresolved issues within the family of origin. To be an emotionally, relationally healthy person, it would be highly beneficial to engage in "family of origin" work. As he writes, "This current book has one simple premise. Our development and experience within our family of origin is a major but usually hidden component of how we function emotionally within our congregations as pastors."

The author then takes the reader through the process of addressing his family of origin through diagramming, contacting family members and talking (even the "black sheep" of the family), and other helpful means. Throughout, Richardson gives very helpful tips on how to conduct one's self within a system, what kinds of questions are to be avoided (as they raise anxiety in the other) and what kinds of questions are to be asked (because they really ask the same thing in less aggressive language). A great emphasis is placed in how one projects a "less-anxious presence" and the emotions/anxiety/problems one might experience when doing family of origin work. Richardson frequently makes strong connections between the successes of "family of origin" work and functioning within the congregational system.

Richardson's final unit deals with how a pastor might want to begin getting his parishioners to research and come to grips with their own families of origin. Tips and techniques concerning both private counseling and group work are presented.

"Becoming a Healthier Pastor" is a very readable book for being technical. The author uses liberal anecdotes--including anecdotes about his own conflicted family--which illustrate his points and make for entertaining reading. The emphases on self-differentiation process and awareness of triangles were helpful, but the most helpful by far was his strong emphasis on what you will probably be feeling/experiencing as you try to research your family, bond with them, and define yourself as a distinct and unique person within that family. Also if great importance is Richardson's emphasis that there is no cause-and-effect excuse to patterned behavior; every person can change the way he relates to others through deliberate effort to self-define.

While the book is thorough, and is a help to clergy and laity alike, the author has failed to convince me of the extraordinary importance of family of origin work. The author has presented anecdotal evidence concerning growth he experienced through his own family-work and successes he's witnessed through counseling, but these anecdotes come across as descriptive rather than universal principles. While this reader admits that family is highly influential in forming a child's relationship schemas, family-work will most likely not be the "silver bullet" for all people.

That being said, this book is highly recommended. As Richardson focuses on family-of-origin work, he gives the reader a virtual cornucopia of valuable advice that can be applied in nearly every system. This book did much to increase my understanding of Bowen Systems Theory and how to effectively conduct myself within a system.
Understanding How Your Own Family Helps You to Help Others Better  Oct 5, 2006
Richardson's book is part of the Creative Pastoral Care and Counseling Series published by Fortress Press.

The main premise of this book is that the pastor has to have his or her own family issues in perspective in order to effectively deal with providing pastoral care and counseling to the congregation they serve. Utilizing the work of renowned family systems therapist, Murray Bowen, Richardson provides a quick and dirty review of family systems theory, its strengths and how family issues in the pastor's life can contribute to providing quality pastoral care in the parish. Richardson also provides some helpful suggestions on how to use family systems theory to look at the life of a parish and work with individual members of congregation.

For persons already grounded in an understanding of family systems theory this books is and excellent review. For the new comer it is a good introduction. The chapter on triangulation is most helpful and the concept of coaching members to work through their family issues rather than counseling them is most helpful, especially when working with Older Adult congregational members, who have picked up a `the need for counseling is bad' message from society.

The premise of Family Systems theory and Richardson's book is that there is much we can learn about our selves and our lives of faith from our family of origin. Suggestions on how to run a family of origin group in the church is provided in the last chapter. This is the `gold mine' for those in Older Adult Ministry for two reasons. The wealth and richness of lived faith that will come from the process of helping our Older Adult members work with each other in their family of faith to resolve issues that may not have been resolved in order to help them grow to their full potential. Richardson's main caveat is that the pastor or person doing this kind of work and facilitating such a group must first have a good handle on their own family of origin issues.

I would recommend this book on a number of levels, first to those who want a basic understanding of family systems theory and how it can be used in the congregational setting. I would also recommend this book to those working with Older Adults as a way to help the eldest of God's Children become more whole.

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