Assistant Professor of Pastoral Care and Counseling Philip Helsel’s most recent book, Pastoral Power Beyond Psychology’s Marginalization: Resisting the Discourses of the Psy-Complex, studies the psychological effects of debt, foreclosure, and unemployment in today’s economic system.
In the book, Helsel offers advice to ministers and counselors who work to help those struggling with their place in the working class.
“We have seen what you may call a ‘public despair’ in our times,” Helsel said. “We know that economic stress contributes to mental illness and mental suffering. In times of downturn, people are more likely to be distressed and be mentally ill.”
Helsel also claims that psychological labels negatively affect those who deal with emotional problems by reducing them to “problem-identities.”
Helsel previously worked as a chaplain, congregational pastor, and pastoral counselor in training before coming to BC. He now teaches courses including Trauma and Addiction and Introduction to Pastoral Care & Counseling: Narrative.
“It’s people who have been through the mental health system who have the central role in changing it,” Helsel said. “In a sense, experts, like myself, should play a background role and provide something like a forum for the concerns or access to institutional resources, but not set the agenda for such concerns.”
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