Spiritually Sensitive Psychotherapy for Clergy, Religious Professionals, and Laity

clergyThe Program for Psychology and Religion at St. Louis Behavioral Medicine Institute specializes in the integration of spirituality and psychotherapy to help clients achieve wellness.

We are experts in the assessment and treatment of clergy and lay ministers and offer effective systems of evaluating clients and suggesting directions for the psychological and social aspects of formation, treatment, and future growth of religious professionals and candidates for ordination and religious vocations.

The Program for Psychology and Religion began more than three decades ago, with a mission to serve Roman Catholic priests, and women and men religious in Roman Catholic orders.  We have grown over time with added services to meet the unique needs of Protestant clergy and ministers.  We have helped ministers from the Roman Catholic Church, Episcopal Church, Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, United Methodist Church, and Presbyterian Church U.S.A.

In addition to our specialized services for ministers, our clinicians also provide spiritually integrative psychotherapy and Christian counseling for individuals, couples and families, with an emphasis on helping the client integrate his or her religion and spirituality as a source of healing, coping and strength.

What Makes Us Unique

We Understand Ministers’ Needs
We understand the joys and strains of ministry and know that it has become demanding and complex. We address the psychological, physical, and spiritual elements of health to support optimal balance as ministers continue to live out vocations rooted in the call and gifts of God and expressed in service.

A Consciousness of God’s Healing Grace Permeates Our Daily Work
We honor religious faith and practice, the culture of religious life and ministry, individual and corporate spiritual development, and the centrality of prayer. We address each individual’s spiritual growth, teach mindfulness in prayer and daily life, and support the gifts and spiritual strengths of each client

We Are Experts
We have on staff St. Louis University faculty, experts in health care, pioneers and leaders who offer evidenced-based treatment protocols. Our staff is multidisciplinary, professional, licensed, and board accredited.

Specialized Assessment / Treatment for Clergy & Ministers

To help ministers achieve balance, wellness and excellence in their ministry, we offer integrative behavioral, emotional, cognitive, interpersonal and spiritual health assessments. Recommendations to facilitate healing and growth are made based on the assessment results. The assessments are offered in two formats:  Clinical Assessment and Developmental Assessment.

Clinical Assessment
Commonly, ministers referred for a clinical assessment are experiencing difficulties in their ministry and/or relationships. They may be suffering from burn-out, fatigue, depression, anxiety, interpersonal stressors, addictive or compulsive behaviors, or other concerns.

The assessment is always conducted in a collaborative manner with the goal of providing recommendations to resolve the current problem while at the same time helping the minister better understand herself/himself. The assessment is conducted with sensitivity to the minister, in a manner that is respectful of his/her privacy, while also providing the necessary communication with the minister’s ecclesiastical supervisors or leadership as appropriate.

The comprehensive clinical assessment typically consists of the following components:

  • Intake Consultation
  • Clinical Interview and Psychosocial History
  • Psychological Testing
  • Spiritual Health Assessment
  • Psychiatric Assessment (added as needed)
  • Feedback Session and Written Summary with Recommendations

Developmental (Candidate) Assessment
We created this form of assessment to be less “intrusive” while focusing on the client’s forward movement toward healthy integration of body, mind, and spirit.

While major psychological problem areas are screened for, we place a particular emphasis on the client’s strengths and areas of growth.

The person seeking this form of assessment ranges from seminarians and ministry candidates to clergy, religious, and persons of faith who desire to know themselves better and desire to use the results of the assessment to map a path for personal and spiritual growth.

For more information or to schedule a consultation for either a Clinical or Developmental Assessment, please call Sue Mertens at 314- 289-9407.

Spirituality Integrated Treatment Programs for Clergy and Ministers
The Program for Psychology and Religion at St Louis Behavioral Medicine Institute takes pride in offering personalized treatment programs specifically for ministers. We address the mental, physical, and spiritual elements of health to support optimal well-being of mind, body, and spirit. Rather than a “one size fits all” approach, we utilize a comprehensive assessment process to develop treatment plans that address the individual’s specific needs.

We offer spiritual direction, alongside traditional psychotherapy/counseling and psychiatric care, indicative of our emphasis on holistic care.

We offer individualized intensive programs for clergy and religious in partnership with the Center for OCD and Anxiety Related Disorders and the Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Program of St. Louis Behavioral Medicine Institute. Paths for symptom resolution or growth are considered according to the needs of each minister’s unique situation.

All of our services can be personalized, tailored, and even combined with other treatment offerings at SLBMI.  For more information or on our specialty services for ministers, please call Sue Mertens at (314) 289-9407.

Outpatient Services

Spiritually Sensitive Psychotherapy/Counseling
Clinicians on the Psychology & Religion team are available to assist any individual who values the integration and respect for his or her religious faith, attention to the spiritual dimension of psychological issues, and scientifically-based treatment. Our spiritually integrative approach allows us to work with members of any religious or spiritual tradition.

Christian Counseling/Psychotherapy
“Christian counseling” at SLBMI, refers to the combination of Christian principles with counseling interventions to help hurting people move toward psychological health and spiritual wholeness. The Program for Psychology and Religion at the St. Louis Behavioral Medicine Institute has several clinicians on staff who provide Christian counseling.

Spiritual Direction
Unlike psychotherapy or counseling, spiritual direction does not focus on solving problems, but it is instead geared toward discernment and responding to the leadings of God, and the innermost calling of a person’s spirituality. The spiritual directors at St. Louis Behavioral Medicine Institute have achieved certification as spiritual directors from seminaries or graduate institutions of theology.

If you are seeking a mental health clinician who is attuned to the mind-body-spirit relationships, call 314-289-9411 and ask for an appointment with a member of our Psychology & Religion clinical staff.

Education & Consultation

In addition to our clinical services, the Program for Psychology and Religion provides continuing education programs locally and nationally on topics related to clergy wellness, ministerial effectiveness, psychological and spiritual wellbeing, and the psychological and social aspects of religious formation.  Our staff serves as consultants to individual ministers and ecclesiastical leaders, church boards and councils, and religious orders and societies.  Below are links to a sampling of resources produced by our staff. We invite you to sign up for our e-mail newsletters to stay informed on upcoming educational programs and publications by our staff.

If you are interested in receiving our newsletters by mail and to be added to our mailing list, click here. Please be sure to check that box that expresses your interest in the Program for Psychology & Religion. 

Program for Psychology & Religion Recent Newsletters

“Spirituality of Aging: Implications for Living in the Autumn Years.” Spring 2015

“Resilience Following Trauma: Stories of Faith, Hope, and Love.” Summer 2014

“Behavioral Addictions in Ministry.” Winter 2014

“Cognitive Decline in Aging: Is this normal aging or is this dementia?” Spring 2013

“Engaging Communities in Reentry.” Fall 2012.

 “Food Addiction: A Fresh Perspective on Curbing Appetite and Shedding Pounds.” Summer 2012.

“Building Psychological (and Spiritual) Resilience in Ministry.” Fall 2011.

“Pain and Suffering: Part 2: The Christian Experience.” Winter 2011. 

“Compulsive Hoarding and Acquisition.” Spring 2011. 

“Intervention: Skill, Grace, or a Lot of Both?” Summer 2009.


Forming the Whole Person: The Importance of Psychological and Social Aspects of Spiritual Formation,” Presentation given to the faculty at Aquinas Institute of Theology by Dripps, B., PhD & Grimes, C., PsyD

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I schedule an appointment and get more information?
Call our intake coordinator at 314-298-9411 to schedule an appointment. Mention you are calling for the Program for Psychology & Religion.

Where do clients who come from outside the St. Louis area stay when they are receiving an assessment or other services?
We assist clients with locating appropriate housing options that fit their needs. For brief stays, there is a hotel with nice accommodations within walking distance of the institute. When longer term accommodations are needed, some clients stay with religious communities (Catholic Sisters or Brothers), or stay within local parishes and sometimes continue to practice a sacramental ministry in those settings. Lutheran pastors coming for an assessment may stay at Concordia Seminary.

How long does the assessment process take?
Though it varies by client, it generally consists of one to three days of assessment and a feedback session. These appointments can be spaced out or scheduled all within a normal workweek.

Do you involve religious leadership in assessment and treatment planning of ministers they refer?
Religious leadership is closely involved from the initial referral through the assessment of their members to the feedback conference where treatment recommendations are provided.

Does the program only serve Catholic priests and religious?
Although many of our clients are Catholic clergy or religious, we also work effectively with other denominations and other faith traditions. We are proud of our ecumenical relationships with ministers in the Roman Catholic Church, Episcopal Church, Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, United Methodist Church, and Presbyterian Church U.S.A. Our individual outpatient psychotherapy/counseling services and individual spiritual direction offerings are open to both clergy and laity of any religious tradition.

How is spirituality integrated in your psychological approach?
Individual meetings with a personal spiritual director are integral components of our assessments and treatment programs. Some program staff members hold advanced degrees in dual disciplines (psychology and religion) and all members of our team are trained in respect for religious faith and the importance of scientific research as the foundation of psychological evaluation and care.

We’re Only a Phone Call Away

If you would rather reach our Intake Coordinators by phone, please call 314-289-9411 to discuss appointment scheduling if you or a loved one may be experiencing a mental health issue. For additional questions about our programs, you can also use our online contact form.

In the case of a medical emergency or crisis, please dial 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.

Help and hope are closer than you think.

Personalized mental health treatment is ready for you. We are here to help.

Contact Us

New patients please call Intake Coordinators at:

City of St. Louis, Missouri (Macklind)

1129 Macklind Ave,
St. Louis, MO 63110
314-534-0200 (returning patients)

Chesterfield, Missouri (West County)

16216 Baxter Rd. Stes 205 and 225,
Chesterfield, MO 63017
636-532-9188 (returning patients)

Fairview Heights, Illinois

331 Salem Place, Suite 225-A,
Fairview Heights, IL 62208
618-825-0051 (returning patients)