This chapter explores the religious differences between counselors and their clients. It explores religious location, including one aspect of religious location that can pose what is arguably the only insurmountable barrier when the counselor and client occupy different religious locations. The chapter focuses on setting out the foundational concept of “language care”. It reflects forms and degrees of religious difference, challenges posed by religious differences in counseling, and the significance in counseling of the counselor’s religious location. Therapeutic relationality is of concern throughout the chapter, but a brief concluding section examines a few practices especially valuable for nurturing therapeutic relationality given differences in clients’ and counselors’ religious locations. The diversity of religious locations is demanding and perhaps daunting. Standards of professional competence and codes of ethics across the mental health professions include at least a mention of religion. The religious location of the counselor matters in the clinical process.
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This chapter explores pastoral counselors as mental health professionals, in terms of their professional identities, training, and licenses. Among the most significant transformations in the field of pastoral counseling over the past half-century have been the entrance of laypersons into the profession and the increasing numbers of pastoral counselors who identify as both religious leaders and licensed mental health professionals. Some of the largest growth in the profession has occurred among laypersons seeking training in pastoral counseling and licensure as mental health professionals. The curricula of mental health training programs are most often designed to meet national standards outlined by professional organizations and state/provincial licensing board requirements. In addition to training models and licensure requirements, pastoral counselors who work as mental health professionals are also exposed to and often endorse the prevailing paradigms, ethical codes, and standard practices of their mental health disciplines.