A Vital Tool for Caring People

When you are a caring person, others come to you for advice.

Do you seem to attract hurting people who want to talk with you about their problems? Do people share their anxious thoughts and their sad — even depressive — feelings with you, and you don't know what to do?

Maybe you wonder if they are just having a bad day or going through a phase, but there are so many articles about mental illness in the media that you wonder if they need medication. Perhaps you heard that the local psychiatric hospitals for youth are full, and this young person seems to need one, but you are unsure.

Actually, only about 4% of the people in distress need hospitalization, and only about 15% need professional counseling. So how can you differentiate what is needed? The enclosed video and written handout will assist you to make that decision with clarity. This teaching is being used by hundreds of ministers and influencers around the world because they found it essential to their work. 


Gary Sweeten

Founder - Sweeten Life Systems, Relational Peace University

If you want to know the origins of Relational Peace University, you can look at my fifty-year career as a counselor and educator. When I was a child, I liked school because I could help my friends with their lessons — and also because school was the only place in our little Illinois town where I could be with so many kids. That love of school led me to become a teacher and a coach — so I could teach kids and still play games with them. When I had still been a student in a community college, my favorite teacher was also a counselor, and that seemed like a wonderful job. So after a few years of teaching at the elementary and junior-high levels, I went back to graduate school and earned a master’s degree in Counseling and College Student Personnel. With that degree, I worked for several years at the University of Cincinnati as an associate dean and an assistant vice provost, and I also used my time at UC to earn a doctoral degree in Counselor Education. Armed with that degree, I left academia to become the Minister of Christian Education at Cincinnati’s College Hill Presbyterian Church. After a short time in that role, though, I became aware of families in the congregation who were in distress, and that changed the trajectory of my career. I used my counseling background to equip lay people in the congregation with the skills to informally counsel troubled people. I didn’t realize it at the time, but the “holistic” materials I developed for that effort were about forty years ahead of the innovation curve. Over the ensuing years, I founded Equipping Ministries International (EMI) to teach church and community organizations how to replicate my work. I also founded Sweeten Life Systems to promote “A Lifetime of Great Relationships” all over the world. My materials have been used in 85 countries, and I personally got to set up training centers in Norway, Denmark, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan, and China. My book, Listening for Heaven’s Sake, has been translated into several languages, and it’s sold over two million copies. Now at the apex of my career, I’ve been thrilled to launch Relational Peace University as a way to encapsulate my life’s work in a format that will reach new generations. Since 1961, my closest partner in all of these ministries has been my wife Karen. We now live in Mason, Ohio, and we have two adult children, plus four grandchildren.

Course curriculum

  • 1

    Helping the Distressed Find the Help They Need

    • How to Evaluate and Refer

    • Quick Reference Guide - How to Evaluate and Refer