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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- Go to chapter: Perspectives from Beyond the Field: Psychology and Spiritually Integrated Psychotherapy
An indicator of the growth of research in the field of psychology and spirituality can be seen by examining the increase in the number of citations found over the past several decades in the PsycINFO database, which is the premier resource of the American Psychological Association (APA) that provides abstracts of peer-reviewed literature in the behavioral sciences and mental health. In addition to the field of psychology, data on the relevance of religion and spirituality is being generated by disciplines in the humanities and the physical and other social sciences to which spiritually oriented psychologists and other mental health therapists need to pay attention. One area that blends the psychological and the spiritual and offers an opportunity for collaboration between psychology and pastoral counseling is that of mindfulness-based therapies. The challenges for the world’s religions and spiritual traditions are the challenges for psychology and its allied professions, including pastoral counseling.