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.
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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 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.
This chapter provides an overview of traditional Native American spiritualities and life ways as systems of faith, then discusses the role and influence of Christianity, and, finally, offers implications for pastoral counseling with Native people from a culturally based perspective. In terms of faith and belief, Christianity has had the greatest influence on Native Americans. Essentially, cultural competence is critical in pastoral counseling with ethnic and spiritually marginalized groups such as Native Americans due to historical struggles, mistreatment, and a resulting potential for mistrust. Pastoral counselors must avoid making assumptions about the cultural identity of Native American clients without gathering information about both the individual’s internal and external experiences. Both verbal and nonverbal cues offer pastoral counselors a sense of a Native American client’s level of acculturation. Pastoral counselors might get involved with working on large social issues that will then indirectly affect the experience of Native American clients.
- 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.
- Go to chapter: Integrative Psychotherapy Training Program: A Department of Spiritual Care and Education
This chapter examines the development and organization of pastoral care within the context of managed care. It illustrates an approach that has been effective at engaging a medical system while providing quality care to patients. The chapter provides a potential plan on how to further establish a training program in the context of educational systems and licensing boards. Pastoral psychotherapists have historically been well educated and trained in diverse counseling and psychotherapy clinical theories and methodologies. The term pastoral in pastoral psychotherapy typically connotes a specificity of education, training, supervision, and experience. The Integrative Psychotherapy Training Program (IPTP) offers a useful model for how pastoral counseling and psychotherapy is self-differentiating while extending its influence into the complexities of a very large health care delivery system. When developing an integrative psychotherapy service center and training program, the program must discern the service needs of the health care system.
This chapter explores pastoral counseling assessment through an integrated interdisciplinary framework. Religious and spiritual assessment within pastoral counseling is an interdisciplinary practice insofar as it understands the human being from both theological and psychological traditions. The primary aim of the tacit dimension of assessment is to identify the theological and philosophical lenses through which pastoral counselors understand the sacred narrative of their clients. Context-independent pastoral identities tend to assume that one particular way of being spiritual and religious is sufficient for all people. Pastoral counseling is characterized by the formational experience of developing an identity capable of practicing spiritually sensitive and theologically integrated assessment. Pastoral counselors should engage in explicit, formal assessment of religiousness and spirituality when clinically indicated. The pastoral counselor must develop a sophisticated pastoral identity to offer a sacred space able to encounter the mystery of the client’s world.
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.