Psychosomatic Health of the Orthodox Clergy in Europe and the USA

In all Christian denominations clergy have been a high-risk group in terms of their stress and its impact on psychosomatic health; the same is true about their spouses. The reasons are multiple and include, but are not limited to:

- Stressful nature of ministry itself (listening to problems, finding solutions, burden of dead-ends, handling of difficult personalities, troubles in cooperation, etc.);

- Problematic personalities of clergy (perfectionist, narcissistic, obsessive-compulsive, ambitious, guilt-motivated, etc);

- Poor quality or decay of clergy marriage;

- Unreasonable expectations of the congregation;

- Conflicts with the bishop or fellow priests; and

- Inconsistency in spiritual life;

So the group discussions will focus on the following points:

a) Specific stressors of clergy in America. What are the specifics of American society and of those of Serbian origin inside it? What types of prevention can there be, both by the priest and the central administration?

b) Clergy wives’ burden and its impact on their health. How do wives share the priest’s stress? In which ways does the clergy wives’ burden affect the priest’s? How can marriage be a source of relief and support? How can we facilitate better marriages of candidates?

c) Relationships among clergy as sources of either (di)stress or alleviation/support. What factors make fellow clergy sources of alleviation or of further distress? How can friendship and mentoring be promoted? What about confidentiality?