This chapter explores how pastoral counselors might work with queer-identified persons. It reviews theories of sexual orientation and literature establishing gay/lesbian-affirming approaches to pastoral counseling. The chapter considers emerging theories regarding “queer” identities and how such identities are related to prevailing constructs of gender and sexuality in psychotherapeutic discourses. Pastoral counselors working with queer-identified persons especially in couples and family therapy are challenged to critically reflect on and intentionally deconstruct the ways in which dominant discourses of gender and sexuality have become embedded in operative psychotherapeutic approaches. It is critically important for queer-affirming pastoral counselors to clearly identify the theological, scientific, psychological, anthropological, and sociological conclusions about human sexuality because each of these assumptions shapes the clinical practice. Pastoral counselors are encouraged to seek continuing education and specialized training before working with persons who are transgender, especially those who are actively seeking gender transition.
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This chapter focuses on the common themes of meaning and the sacred that emerge in pastoral counseling practice. It elucidates explicit and implicit spiritual content that is commonly presented by clients. The chapter explores the explicit spiritual content commonly raised by clients within the Abrahamic traditions. It also explores implicit spiritual content, which is seemingly inherent to the human condition and often occupies the subtext of a client’s presentation. Grounding the exploration of explicit and implicit spiritual content in pastoral counseling is the belief that competent practice requires counselors to be spiritually and theologically flexible. Pastoral counselors employ a diversity of treatment modalities and are not limited to one model or school of psychotherapy. Responding to explicit and implicit spiritual content within mental health practice is a hallmark of pastoral counseling. Whether spiritual content is explicit or implicit, one primary goal of pastoral counseling is to facilitate spiritual growth.
Suffering is an ineradicable part of life, even as fate and death. In other words suffering is a highly subjective, complex, universal phenomenon and, thus, an ordinary dynamic of the human condition. It is integrally associated with physical pain and/or emotional distress, mitigated, at times, by the individual’s intrapersonal and interpersonal processes related to resilience or hardiness. History has shown how human beings can adopt attitudes and value systems that devalue differences and establish industries marked by prejudice, racism, judgment, and bias that contribute to an individual’s pain and suffering. Suffering, distress, and pain are ordinary, and yet, some of these experiences happen as a result of the culture’s synthetic pressure and influence. Suffering is a complex, universal, highly subjective phenomenon caused by enduring physical or emotional pain that can be broadly understood through intrapersonal and interpersonal processes and their interaction with constitutional factors.
This chapter provides brief introduction to key issues in distance counseling, with particular emphasis on the implications of pastoral counseling practices for pastoral counselors. Distance counseling technologies include both asynchronous and synchronous formats. An increasing number of counseling professionals now offer distance counseling as one part of their traditional, face-to-face, counseling practices, and a smaller number of counselors practice primarily in a distance format. It is important to emphasize that distance counseling is not intended to replace entirely conventional modes of pastoral counseling; rather, it may serve as an essential adjunct to traditional methods. Like other forms of spiritual and mental health care, pastoral counseling is most often offered to clients as a face-to-face activity. Distance pastoral counseling may limit some forms of assessment and understanding of the client and his or her experience and concerns. As an emerging practice, distance counseling presents both opportunities and challenges for pastoral counselors.
This chapter discusses how pastoral counselors are different from other counseling professions. Pastoral counseling exists in a substantial community of related disciplines and professions. The two theoretical bodies of knowledge that combined to create pastoral counseling were the disciplines of psychology and theology. A review of pastoral counseling’s professional heritage sets the stage for the discipline’s contemporary identity dilemma. The formative nature of pastoral counseling training shapes the pastoral counselor’s self and is the rudiment from which the distinctive interventions of pastoral counselors organically emerge. Among the elements of training and formation most salient to shaping pastoral counseling interventions are clinical integration, pastoral formation, and the development of a spiritual orientation. The unique training and formation of pastoral counselors lays the groundwork for the development of interventions. Pastoral counselors share distinctive interventions that are born out of particular ways of being and a particular set of goals and objectives.
This chapter focuses on distinct advances occurred over the past 2 decades that are worthy of greater engagement by the pastoral counseling community. In the past decade, childhood studies have even earned a place in the study of religion, becoming a new program unit in the American Academy of Religion (AAR). When the new program unit of Childhood Studies and Religion sought AAR renewal in 2005-2006, one of the concerns raised by the program committee was the unit’s proximity to what the committee described as normative, Christian, and practical interests. Children have been misperceived as a low-status subject of little theoretical interest except to those in professional or practical areas such as religious education or pastoral care. As childhood studies in religion suggests more generally, fostering respect for religion in all its complexity is an equally important dimension of understanding children.
This chapter focuses on the workings of “Torah therapy” by drawing on what Cheston describes as the three points of focus essential to all counselors: the counselor’s way of understanding clients, the counselor’s way of being with clients, and the counselor’s way of intervening in the therapeutic process. It concludes by comparing and contrasting Torah therapy and pastoral counseling as it is traditionally understood. The wisdom of Judaism, as contained in the reservoir of divine teachings known as the Torah, is intended to guide the Jew’s outlook in all areas in life, including one’s vocation. Torah-based therapist makes a concerted effort to help clients to reconstruct past hurts in a positive light. Torah therapy overlaps with pastoral counseling in large measure but not perfectly, for whereas the government places educational and licensing demands on the pastoral counselor, one may reach the status of Torah therapist less formally and officially.
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.
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To Diagnose or Not to Diagnose: Pastoral Counseling Distinctives in Conceptualizing and Engaging Human Distress
This chapter proposes a way of understanding pastoral diagnosis as a process of discernment that seeks to bring into dialogue alternative ways of knowing, while at the same time being grounded in a larger interplay between knowing and unknowing, which brings a unique experience to the engagement with human distress. The idea of pastoral diagnosis that developed in the 20th century had its roots in the worldwide pattern of religious interpretive systems in general and more particularly in the centuries-old practice of pastoral care from the Judeo- Christian tradition. Implicit in pastoral diagnosis is not only a way of conceptualizing human distress but also a way of engaging human distress with a particular focus on experience. The pastoral experience implied in the process of pastoral diagnosis with its inclusion of various ways of knowing engages the primary, raw, affective aspects of “core-consciousness” that often underlie human distress.
This chapter presents a type of culturally open pastoral counseling that requires a transformation of self and society beyond an educated mind and a politically sensitive vocabulary. It discusses the current state of multicultural competence and social justice discourses. The chapter offers a few guiding principles intended to foster a more culturally open approach to cross-cultural training for pastoral counselors and other helping professionals. Training cultural competence in pastoral counseling and related fields focuses on meeting the ethical guidelines established by professional organizations. Training and discussions of social justice in pastoral counseling and related fields are aimed at drawing attention to the injustices inflicted on marginalized populations and motivating privileged populations to address and eradicate the resulting disparities. The primary focus of cross-cultural training for pastoral counselors is awareness, knowledge, and self-reflection. Developing cultural competence requires heightened awareness of personal cognitive dissonance when confronted with conflicting beliefs.