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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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 explores the diversity of professionals engaged in pastoral counseling, the characteristics of those professionals within the ever-expanding landscape of mental health care, and the settings in which pastoral counseling most often occurs. It describes the plurality present within the discipline, summarizes the discipline’s use of the adjective pastoral, and offers a broad, fluid understanding of pastoral counseling. Pastoral counselors at the center of practice in the 1950s to 1970s may have claimed to speak in a singular tongue and envisioned a monolithic tower representing the theory and practice of the discipline. Pastoral counseling is an approach to mental health care that draws on the wisdom of psychology and the behavioral sciences alongside spirituality/religion/theology. Pastoral counselors are bicultural because they have graduate training in both religious/spiritual/theological education and a mental health discipline. Religiously endorsed pastoral counselors are, like all pastoral counselors, bilingual and bicultural.
The Dictionary of Pastoral Care and Counseling identifies pastoral counseling as a 20th-century phenomenon. E. Brooks Holifield (1983) highlighted how early American pastoral care reflected social and theological issues of the time. Pastoral counseling in liberal congregations began to shift away from cognitive, intellectual answers and toward helping parishioners surrender to a “wider self” that would lead to transformation. For pastoral counselors and theologians, psychoanalysis raised awareness that human emotional, spiritual, and volitional life was more complex and mysterious than supposed by earlier theological anthropologies. The Association for Clinical Pastoral Education standardized clinical pastoral education (CPE) as a professional education program for ministry with a focus on pastoral identity, interpersonal competence, and chaplaincy skills. Pastoral counseling specialization gained credibility partly through academic interest in seminaries and graduate schools. Although racial and multicultural tensions contributed to slow growth in the United States, pastoral counseling gained strength in Asia and Africa.
- 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.
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.
This chapter examines the relationships between pastoral counseling and spiritual direction with an eye to how the related disciplines can work together to provide holistic care for clients facing the complex problems of modern life. It explores the common ancestor of spiritual direction and psychotherapy in the care for the soul in Western philosophical and religious traditions, tracing their separation in the past century. The chapter considers ideas from an interfaith and contextual perspective and raises questions for the future of pastoral counseling based on cultural differences and emerging social trends. Positive psychology has provided helpful distinctions that are useful in describing how counseling, pastoral counseling, and spiritual direction are both similar and different. Many counselors both pastoral and clinical mental health are interested in promoting cognitive, psychosocial, and faith development, and these concepts also inform spiritual direction; both relationships would cover ideas such as images of God.
- Go to chapter: Reframing Pastoral Counseling: Toward Developing a Model of Pastoral Care within Muslim Communities
This chapter provides some thoughts on exploring the possibility of developing a model of pastoral counseling in Muslim communities. As a concept, pastoral counseling does not translate entirely or accurately in the Muslim community. Religious leaders in most Muslim communities are well-meaning, well-intentioned individuals who want to provide help to members of the faith, but often they have no background or expertise to do so. The notion of pastoral care as it exists in the Muslim context bears little semblance to the way that it is understood in its broader professional context. Muslims are required to live in their own historical time and seek contemporary solutions to practical problems of human existence drawn from the knowledge base of society in their own time. Viewing Muslims through the exclusive lens of their religion can become very problematic when attempting to provide care in the context of mental health and mental well-being.
This chapter describes the practice of supervision used across the spectrum of clinical mental health counseling to train pastoral counselors. It advocates the need for pastoral counseling supervisory training and certification at the state licensure level. The chapter highlights practices that can be used to address spiritual and religious issues within the supervisory process. It addresses the practice of clinical supervision in both academic and agency settings with pastoral counselors in training. Clinical supervision is the mechanism that helps to manage the continuous process of both personal and professional formation. Generally, supervision is categorized as a clinical practice that occurs between individuals in a professional setting. Supervisor training and certification is one way to ensure that pastoral counselors in training and all counselors in training receive supervision that attunes the client’s spirituality/religion into biopsychosocial assessment and treatment. Academic supervisors must also address ethical and legal issues while supervising.