The Catholic Church has been helping sinners see the light in confession since the first disciples were commissioned by Christ to forgive sins. Confession is intended by Christ for the forgiveness of sins. In more recent times the line that divides good and evil has become hazy for many of the faithful. People have come to think of the Confessional as a free counseling session with the confessor rather than a sacrament through which Christ forgives sins.
I personally have experienced many styles of confessors, from the very talkative and lenient to the stern and highly penitential. On occasion I encounter a priest that is so accustomed to the typical counseling style confession that they disregard my sins altogether. In my experiences with people in line for the sacrament of confession I have come across people who really need of psychological therapy but are using confession as an alternative. Many people who suffer from anxieties, addictions, etc. experience repression of their suffering by confessing them; but the problem arises that the person is not addressing the actual problem. Spiritual growth is a great way to help move away from problems, but is not the sole answer. Healing of the mind should accompany the healing of the soul to really cure the person.
The Vatican has issued a statement recognizing that faithful are confusing the confessional with the “therapist’s couch”.http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jun/03/confession-vatican-catholics-therapy-sin Handbooks are going to be given to priest to help them retake the confessional in an effort to save the sacramental life of reconciliation and help the faithful to seek healing for the soul in its proper place. This movement of confession back to the care of the spirit will leave the counseling of the mind for the psychiatrists and psychologists.
I challenge people who are going to confession; when confessing sins, to just confess; point blank, not a long story and scenario. If priests are going to regain the control over the confessional and stop the large number of people attending their ‘free therapy sessions.’ We as the faithful need to be supportive and go into the confessional prepared. Examine your conscience; think about it ahead of time. Going to confession involves thought process. Explain what you did, and how many times you did it. As the faithful we will remind priests of the difference between being a confessor and a therapist.