CCT Special Edition

54 christian counseling today SPECIAL EDITION These are the words of a distraught and disillusioned pastor of a large conservative church. Pastor Dirk, as he was affec- tionately called, was loved by his congregation, respected in the community, and considered a great orator. Dirk’s pres- ence evinced a confident and capable man whose drivenness awarded him many successes. His childhood, however, was anything but polished. Dirk’s father was an alcoholic; his parents separated and eventually divorced when he was 11. Yet it was not those wounds that prompted Dirk to seek counseling. Since the initial episode, his panic attacks became more frequent… ambushing him at “inopportune times.” Sometimes they lasted only a few minutes, but other times he experienced terrifying panic for nearly 15 minutes. The panic “consumed” him. In a haze of disbelief, Dirk muttered, “I feel like I’m coming apart.” Indeed, Dirk’s life and ministry were in shambles. No matter how hard he tried, he could not rid himself of the panic. Like most victims, he began to avoid places that he associated with panic, but that was not always possible since many attacks occurred during service or in a church meeting—at those times he simply had to grin and bear it. More and more, however, he limited his activities to his home, becoming increasingly agoraphobic. PANIC ATTACKS C A N T H E Y R E A L L Y B E S T O P P E D ? JOHN C. THOMAS It was the most frightening experience of my life. I thought I was having a heart attack. Imagine a pastor collapsing on the platform in front of his congregation! The doctor assured me that my heart was fine; he told me that it was a panic attack. As a minister of the Gospel, I cannot have panic attacks! Perhaps other people can have attacks, but not me. I have preached against worry, urged my congregation to trust God, and rebuked those who live in fear instead of faith. If people knew that I had panic attacks, they would never look at me in the same way. ‘‘ ’’