Dr. Erylene Piper-Mandy
A few months ago, while I was chatting with fellow church members in the foyer after the service, I received an urgent summons to my pastor’s office. The scene there was not new; as a psychological professional, I had been in similar situations several times during the year already. A young woman sat before the pastor, sobbing hysterically. Motioning me in, he stood up and briefed me quickly. The young woman – let us call her Renee – had just confessed that she had been sexually molested for several years by her uncle, and she had come into the pastor for help and guidance. He was deeply moved by her tragic circumstances, but he felt incompetent to respond effectively to her needs. He made the usual transition to me – “This is someone who will know how to help you”, and quickly Escaped.
The nature of religious services invites those who have suffered from sexual assaults to disclose their anguish. But despite the fact that most clergy receive some form of training in counseling, they are often unprepared to offer clear, concrete steps toward healing for the sexually abused. Those clergy who pastor churches large enough to house therapists can rely on professional expertise, but more often than not, clergy members are the first line of response for those suffering the debilitating effects of sexual misconduct.
Finally, there is a simple, straightforward approach to addressing this vital need. In her landmark text, And He Restoreth My Soul, Darlene Harris has provided a comprehensive, frank exploration of this difficult subject. This compilation of leading specialists in the field of sexual abuse offers specifics in defining, understanding and addressing the path to healing.
This book is an invaluable resource to clergy and others in several ways. First, it presents meaningful explanations and descriptions of types of sexual assault and abuse in uncompromising but comprehensible language. By providing categories for understanding the styles and patterns of sexual exploitation practitioners gain powerful insight into full spectrum of responses and symptoms, which in turn aids them in their selection of appropriate healing approaches. By presenting these ideas in plain language, clergy members are empowered for safe, intuitive means of communicating with the distressed victims.
Second, Harris clearly understands the complex process of healing. She draws from professionals whose sensitive treatment and thoughtful presentation model the most effective lens through which to plan a healing protocol.
Third, And He Restoreth My Soul provides clear steps for multiple avenues to recovery. Different strategies are appropriate not only for different types of sexual abuse but also for different categories of victims and perpetrators. The “one-size-fits all” approach to counseling the sexually assaulted has always been met with limited success. The discerning practitioner can now select from an array of perspectives and protocols the ones that best fit the needs of the Client.
Furthermore, the text is designed with ordinary practitioners in mind. Most clergy receive minimal training in sexual abuse counseling; it is usually presented as only one topic in a number of counseling situations. And He Restoreth My Soul takes this fact into account and recommends clear-cut, fundamental steps to assisting those on the path of healing. Clergy do not need an advanced degree in counseling to understand and apply many of the techniques and processes offered in this ground-breaking text.
Finally, the emphasis of this book is Christian-based intervention designed for clergy. Harris and her team of counselors employ the power of principle-centered intervention strategies established in a firm grasp of the Scriptures and in the inherent energy in the Word of God to transform and renew life. This is perhaps the strongest asset of the text; it is rooted in the belief that the soul can and will be restored by its Creator.
In short, I predict that And He Restoreth My Soul will have an unprecedented success in instructing clergy in their effort to heal those broken-hearted by the horror of sexual abuse. We generally prefer statistical analysis and evidence-based investigation in order to declare achievement, but Darlene Harris and her colleagues understand success in human, as well as in scholarly terms. Harris believes that if even one soul is returned to the path of health and healing, then “our living has not been in vain”. And I could not agree with her more.
He makes me lie down in green pastures
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul…
Psalm 23:2,3 (first part)
Erylene Piper-Mandy, Ph.D (Passed away September 24, 2020)
Professor California State University Long Beach
Center for Cross Cultural Experience
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