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 approaches the topics of referral, consultation, and collaboration from the perspective of the pastoral counselor, although religious leaders and allied professionals in other related fields should be able to benefit from the conversation. It addresses why and when a pastoral counselor would choose to work with a client without any additional outside professional resources and why and when a pastoral counselor would choose to obtain consultation, request collaboration, or provide a referral or some variant combination of these. In a pastoral counseling context, consultation is understood as the process of obtaining input from another professional regarding the clinical work that is being done with a client. Collaboration can involve better communication, closer personal contacts, sharing of clinical care, joint education programs and joint program and system planning. Collaboration often happens on an organizational level around topics or events irrespective of any particular client.