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.
Your search for all content returned 29 results
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.
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 addresses the importance of understanding the dignity of human nature. The human condition is a complex theological, philosophical, and psychological term that refers to the nature of our human experience. Significant pastoral concerns arise directly from the givens of human existence, as well as the contexts in which those experiences occur. The organization and method of discourse cover six key contexts for understanding the human condition:human dignity and depravity, story, relational style, family, gender, and view of God. The essential unity of the human family with God is part of the dignity inherent to the human condition and is often described by the mystics. One’s view of God has direct implications on one’s understanding of the human condition and thus one’s counseling practice. One cannot truly understand the human condition without first examining how humanity views the divine.
Suffering is an ineradicable part of life, even as fate and death. In other words suffering is a highly subjective, complex, universal phenomenon and, thus, an ordinary dynamic of the human condition. It is integrally associated with physical pain and/or emotional distress, mitigated, at times, by the individual’s intrapersonal and interpersonal processes related to resilience or hardiness. History has shown how human beings can adopt attitudes and value systems that devalue differences and establish industries marked by prejudice, racism, judgment, and bias that contribute to an individual’s pain and suffering. Suffering, distress, and pain are ordinary, and yet, some of these experiences happen as a result of the culture’s synthetic pressure and influence. Suffering is a complex, universal, highly subjective phenomenon caused by enduring physical or emotional pain that can be broadly understood through intrapersonal and interpersonal processes and their interaction with constitutional factors.
- Go to chapter: The Challenges of Being Bilingual: Methods of Integrating Psychological and Religious Studies
This chapter describes how pastoral counselors draw on religious and theological studies along with psychological studies. Pastoral counselors can be described as bilingual and bicultural. The near history of American pastoral counseling in the 20th century generated several distinct ways of relating psychological studies with religious and theological studies. Pastoral counseling by religious leaders has been going on for centuries. Psychologically informed pastoral counseling and chaplaincy became specialized vocations as religious leaders pursued education and training in psychological counseling. Clinical pastoral education (CPE) within psychiatric hospitals was recognized as a form of clinically based theological education and was required by some seminaries and denominations as preparation for ministry. Pastoral counselors using a theistic worldview will likely retain a more conformist religious identity, especially religiously endorsed pastoral counselors who feel responsible for explicitly representing the cornerstone beliefs of their religious tradition.
- Go to chapter: To Diagnose or Not to Diagnose: Pastoral Counseling Distinctives in Conceptualizing and Engaging Human Distress
To Diagnose or Not to Diagnose: Pastoral Counseling Distinctives in Conceptualizing and Engaging Human Distress
This chapter proposes a way of understanding pastoral diagnosis as a process of discernment that seeks to bring into dialogue alternative ways of knowing, while at the same time being grounded in a larger interplay between knowing and unknowing, which brings a unique experience to the engagement with human distress. The idea of pastoral diagnosis that developed in the 20th century had its roots in the worldwide pattern of religious interpretive systems in general and more particularly in the centuries-old practice of pastoral care from the Judeo- Christian tradition. Implicit in pastoral diagnosis is not only a way of conceptualizing human distress but also a way of engaging human distress with a particular focus on experience. The pastoral experience implied in the process of pastoral diagnosis with its inclusion of various ways of knowing engages the primary, raw, affective aspects of “core-consciousness” that often underlie human distress.
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 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.