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.
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This chapter presents common research methods, both qualitative and quantitative, including how the researcher influences what is being measured, challenges and opportunities in measuring religion and spirituality, and cultural implications of the measurement of religion and spirituality. When reading reports of research on the impact of religion and spirituality on psychological constructs, pastoral counselors must consider what the researcher intended to capture, as this may be different from the pastoral counselor’s personal definitions of religion or spirituality. Pastoral counseling falls in the broad category of the social sciences. There are two general categories of social science research: quantitative research and qualitative research. Research in religion and spirituality must consider the cultures of those who devise the research and the cultures of those who participate. Pastoral counseling research is complex because it crosses multiple disciplines and encompasses concepts that are difficult to define and conceptualize: religion and spirituality.
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.
- 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 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.
This chapter focuses on Buddhist approaches to the work of pastoral counseling and the role of the counselor. It explores the topics of Buddhism and pastoral counseling as separate entities, looks at how they can be joined, and presents unique elements of working with Buddhist and non-Buddhist clients. The chapter introduces the notion of the Buddhist pastoral counselor as the kalamitra, or spiritual friend. In Mahayana Buddhism, the teacher is often termed kalamitra, Sanskrit for spiritual friend. The kalamitra as counselor is one who has worked with his or her own mind and therefore knows the workings of the mind and how the mind creates suffering. Similar to all counseling, the Buddhist pastoral counselor will rely on the relationship with the client as the main process and intervention of counseling. Buddhism and mindfulness will continue to influence psychology, and therefore Buddhist pastoral counseling as a discipline will continue to grow.
This chapter explores the interventions employed within pastoral counseling that resonate with other mental health professions. Although interventions differ by definition and discipline, the chapter intends to elucidate the common ground shared across professions that serve to promote mental well-being. The actual interventions employed by different allied health professions similarly share a common ground. Most of the interventions used by pastoral counselors stem from a psychotherapeutic perspective informed by psychological theories and the historical, collective experience of the mental health disciplines. Pastoral counselors and other allied professionals are equally likely to draw from the shared pool of therapeutic interventions. The allied professions find common ground in psychodynamic interventions given the historical roots and cultural breadth of that paradigm. The humanistic and existential paradigms of psychotherapeutic intervention serve as another common ground for pastoral counselors and the allied professions.