He recommended that rather than approaching someone you care about and saying: “You need to get fixed,” it is better to be able to say: “I want to do this with you and I feel like we need the help. I need to know how to be here for you and we need to deal with this thing that’s attacking our relationship.”
Greg and his wife, Lisa, were keynote speakers at the Vatican’s World Meeting of Families.
The panels at this year’s World Meeting of Families did not shy away from addressing difficult topics in family life. Married couples from South America, Europe, Africa, and the United States shared their stories about finding help for family members with addictions, spiritual healing after domestic violence, and forgiveness after a betrayal.
“People are really struggling to know what a healthy family life looks like,” Greg said.
“Because we really lost any cultural models for what that should be, so ... even faithful intact families don't have good models for what marriage and life really ought to be.”
The couple has recently started a digital platform designed to help Catholic families live out the “liturgy of domestic church life.” The Popcak’s app helps families establish rituals to ensure that they are connecting with each other on a deeper level.
For couples interested in trying out counseling, the Popcaks advise that Catholics seek out a therapist who shares their values.
“Every therapist is working toward a particular vision of what a healthy human being looks like. And as Catholics, we have a very different vision of what a healthy human being looks like, than the world does,” Greg said.
“More specifically, somebody who knows how to integrate their faith and Catholic values in an ethical and effective way in therapy — that's actually a really specialized skill to be able to do,” Greg said. “To work with somebody who really knows how to do that integration is really important.”
Greg is the founder and executive director of CatholicCounselors.com, which provides telecounseling with licensed counselors who also have additional training in Catholic pastoral theology.
“We've been doing telehealth since 1999, but it really became mainstream with the pandemic,” Greg said.
(Story continues below)
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“And so, with the advent of telehealth being so mainstream, I think most of the stigma attached to counseling has gone away.”
Courtney Mares is a Rome Correspondent for Catholic News Agency. A graduate of Harvard University, she has reported from news bureaus on three continents and was awarded the Gardner Fellowship for her work with North Korean refugees.