Steer into the Storm. Dynamic Psychotherapy for Preaching in Anxious Times


  • Joseph H. Clarke
  • David M. Csinos



COVID-19-crisis, psychotherapy, preaching


Global catastrophes such as the COVID-19 crisis raise individual and collective anxiety among faith communities. Fears about the well-being of loved ones, grief over the hiatus of corporate worship services, and uncertainty about the sustainability of local churches loom large. A significant challenge surrounding preaching during a pandemic is the need to speak a word to and for this anxiety. But psychotherapists know an important thing about anxiety: it contains no information. It is no more than “a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal,” to use St Paul’s words. To reassure it away from the pulpit is tantamount to colluding with it. What if instead of attempting to soothe away anxiety in troubling times like these, the preacher and the congregation collide head-on with the feeling that resides on the other side of the anxiety? What comes into view then? This paper will bring the central tenets of dynamic psychotherapy to bear on the task of preaching amidst global catastrophe. By relying on how therapists move past anxiety to directly address the deep feelings of patients, we raise ideas for preaching sermons that go past anxiety, fear, and helplessness and steer into the storm of emotions stirring among the faith community.

Author Biography

Joseph H. Clarke

Joseph (Jody) H. Clarke and David M. Csinos work at the Department of Pastoral Theology,
Atlantic School of Theology, Canada.