This book offers suggestions regarding how pastoral counselors can navigate the changing landscape of mental health care in our current context to maintain unity amid our diversity. Pastoral counseling continues to evolve from its origins as a specialized ministry to an approach to mental health care offered in a wide array of contexts, including both religious and secular settings. The book first offers an introduction to the discipline of pastoral counseling by outlining a brief history of pastoral counseling as well as an understanding of how the discipline maintains unity amid the vast diversity of practices and practitioners. Then, it details pastoral counseling theory and practice according to three precepts: a way of being, a way of understanding, and a way of intervening. Next, the book reflects the religious diversity present among pastoral counselors and those they serve. It further illustrates special issues in pastoral counseling. These special issues further exemplify the distinctiveness of pastoral counseling as evidenced by the functions of referral, consultation, and collaboration, the education and supervision of pastoral counselors, and the use of both qualitative and quantitative research methods. In recognition of our increased technological abilities, as well as the dearth of mental health resources available in some geographic regions, the book guides the reader in understanding distance counseling and how to engage in an ethical distance counseling practice. Finally, the book builds on the theory and practice of pastoral counseling by offering a prophetic call for the future of the discipline.
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In many ways, Joretta L. Marshall’s journey in pastoral counseling represents what is often referred to as a more traditional model of formation. Her work as a pastoral assistant, college chaplain, associate pastor, and staff person in a youth crisis center shaped her pastoral identity in church and community. Formed by a doctoral program that was clearly grounded in pastoral theology while working alongside pastoral clinicians who brought sophistication to their theological and clinical integration, Marshall began to see the identity of a pastoral counselor emerging among the multiple identities. Many of pastoral counselors related to the American Association of Pastoral Counselors (AAPC) assume, at their own peril, that there is one traditional model out of which all other pastoral counseling movements arise. Lifelong learning activities emphasized the pressing need for pastoral counselors to increase their clinical competency and effectiveness.