Covenant Eyes recently conducted a survey at the last CCEF conference (Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation).
This survey represents the counselors and pastors of approximately 538 total weekly clients.
Those surveyed were asked to identify the group to which they belong:
Counselor AND Pastor/Elder (CP)
Training to be in counseling or pastoral ministry (CPT)
Those surveyed were asked to identify the percentage of their clients that were males; approximately 150 counselees that were represented (per week) were females (those who counsel all or mostly all women are labeled group F).
Data from this survey shows the following:
1. “On a scale of 1 to 10, how prepared do you feel to offer counseling to another person regarding compulsive use of pornography?” The average for the various groups was:
2. “What percentage of your counselees would you estimate are struggling with sexual issues in general?” The average for the various groups was:
C – 62% P – 61% CP – 50% CPT – 65% F – 51%
3. “What percentage of your counselees are struggling with Internet pornography use specifically?” The average for the various groups was:
C – 31% P – 51% CP – 33%
CPT – 45% F – 22% (40% of men counselees)
1. Over 50% of those who see a pastor/elder for counseling are struggling with Internet pornography. This is in line with previously studied trends in our culture and in the church.
2. Overall, about 1/5 (22%) of the female and 2/5 (40%) of the male counselees struggle specifically with Internet pornography, as it applies to the need for counseling. Of course, this statistic applies to those who are receiving regular counseling, not the church at large.
3. Those who are practicing counselors tend to perceive themselves less prepared to deal with pornography issues than those who are also pastor/elders.
It is possible that pastors are actually better prepared to deal with these issues because of their closer relations to those (and the families of) whom they counsel. Or it could also be that counselors, with their training, may have come to recognize further complexities in dealing with sexual issues than might be seen by those who are in a pastoral ministry. There could be a number of contributing factors.
4. Those currently in training feel better prepared to deal with pornography concerns than other groups. This may be due to a greater recent awareness about Internet pornography in current coursework. This might also be related to age: those currently in formal training tend to be younger and are a part of the “Internet generation.” These may feel more equipped from a personal perspective to deal with issues regarding Internet pornography.
5. Those who are practicing counselors tend to counsel less about the specific issue of Internet pornography than those who counsel in a pastoral ministry.
Certainly pastors have opportunities to get to know counselees and their families intimately, so they may be more aware of extra-counseling issues. Counselors tend to deal with issues that immediately present themselves and may have less time to spend with a counselee: the issue of Internet pornography may not readily or easily present itself in that time. Finally, those who struggle with Internet pornography may simply seek out counseling from a pastor before they see a professional counselor.