The Pastoral Counselor

As, both, a Christian and aspiring Counselor, I find the idea of pastoral counseling pretty intriguing and attractive. The question is: what is TRUE pastoral counseling?

There is a plethora of different interpretations of what pastoral counseling truly consists of. Some believe pastoral counseling is any opportunity for the pastor to guide or comfort, in a particular setting.

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What is Pastoral Counseling?

It seems that every source on this topic and every person asked has a different answer to the question, “What is pastoral counseling?” Some are in agreement; others are not.  To answer this question, I think it’s first necessary to ask why we are asking this question in the first place. What is the purpose of distinguishing pastoral counseling from other forms of counseling or from other modes of being in day to day life?

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Moury: Interning on Capitol Hill

It was 10 a.m. on June 27, 2016, and I was sitting in a small wooden chair in the side aisle of the Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C., waiting eagerly for the justices to announce their decisions.

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Who is Helping You Take Care of Your Soul?

Taking care of your self implies taking care of the physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects; for example nutrition, leisure activities, emotions, relationships, etc. Counseling may assist in taking care of your mental well-being which affects your emotional and physical health. The point that I am trying to make is that a clinical counselor helps you take care of your life, and so, who helps you take care of your soul?

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What Makes Pastoral Counseling Unique?

Many Christians have heard of spiritual direction and most people have heard of mental health counseling but far fewer have heard about pastoral counseling.  Is pastoral counseling simply getting advice from your pastor or is it something more?  There is something more to pastoral counseling and the simplest way to understand the approach is to first explore what makes pastoral counseling distinct from spiritual direction and from Christian counseling and then look directly at what pastoral counseling is.

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Faithful Guidance – The Importance of Pastoral Counselors

The term “pastoral counseling” can hold a variance of meanings to different individuals. To some, this brings to mind an image of a male pastor who helps clarify God’s direction in a person’s life. To others, this term specifically relates to a professional counselor who only helps those practicing the Christian faith.

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The Nature of Pastoral Counseling

Although there are many different definitions of what pastoral counseling is, I notice several common themes which writers have drawn upon. The term “integration” appears a lot in reference to guiding a client towards physical, mental and spiritual well-being. For Christian clients whose faith is important to them, knowing that pastoral counselors share their faith helps develop trust, rapport and accountability.

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The Unique Pastoral Counselor

“Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.”

With the many thoughts and images the term “pastoral counseling” evokes, it is not difficult to imagine why the disciple is so difficult to define.  Yet, with a culturally, historically, and religiously rich word such as “pastoral,” surely a counseling profession claiming the title must also contain a certain depth.  

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Ready to Launch: AFROTC at Franciscan

Growing up as an Air Force “brat,” moving around every couple of years and living on different military bases around the world was a part of my everyday life. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s the lifestyle I also pictured for myself. However, I also wanted to attend Franciscan University. Thankfully, I’m able to do both thanks to Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFROTC) at the University of Pittsburgh—just 40 miles from campus.

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Schmiesing: Like Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa is a favorite saint for many young Catholics, myself included. She moved mountains with her quiet, steady, and loving presence. She answered a call that was extremely difficult, trusting in God even when she falt utterly abandoned and alone. And this great saint, a leader of service and love, a spiritual giant among mankind, started simple.

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Niemaszyk: Learning How to be Served.

Mission is fruitful. Mission is hard. Mission is learning how to serve and to be served. Over ten-day break, I was on a team that went and ministered to high school students in Budapest, Hungary. The Austria program had five Eastern European mission locations this semester: two in Slovakia, two in Romania, and one in Hungary. Each mission varied in its experiences and ministry but all benefited from the raw experience of the Lord’s love and His ability to work through each missionary individually.

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Niemaszyk: Footsteps – Verso l’alto

Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati: a modern witness to the hope that springs from the Gospel. A young Italian whose faith and way of life were harmoniously fused. A man who prayed through the night and climbed a mountain in the morning to hear the voice of God clearer. A man whose life was full of constant joy and self-giving.

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Schmiesing: Born in the Spirit

I grew up number three in a family of seven children. My parents met as students at Franciscan, married, and never left. I’ve always thought of myself as a ‘traditional Catholic”—no hand-raising, speaking in tongues, etc. All that was somewhat foreign, even though, as kids, we saw a great deal of charismatic worship on campus.

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Schmiesing: Praying with Strangers

Standing in the middle of the hallway of Franciscan University’s academic building, Egan Hall, I found myself with eyes closed, hands folded, and praying with a complete stranger. Two of my household sisters were next to me, but I still couldn’t get past the fact that it was normal to pray in public with someone I didn’t know.

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Hughes: Forming a ‘Disciple’

In casual conversations with friends at Franciscan, you’ll often hear stories about saints with crazy heroic virtue. Francis of Assisi threw himself into thorns at the first inkling of temptation. Teresa of Avila levitated during her deep conversations and unions with the Lord. Padre Pio, well, Padre Pio once woke up…

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Watson: Fitting In

Whenever you enter a new environment or a new culture, it can take time to adjust. Thankfully, one of Franciscan University’s households helped me to navigate this time of adjustment.

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Jernberg: Traunsee Lake

We ran into this unexpected lake and stunning location on our way from Hallstatt to Linz! A few of us were even brave enough to jump into the freezing cold water.

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Niemaszyk: European Backyards, People, and Backpacks

In New Hampshire, my backyard has a shed, a pool, a large grassy area, a tree with a swing…things that are ordinary for a backyard to have. So far, the places I’ve stayed in Europe have had extraordinary backyards, with astounding nature and famous historical sights to replace the ordinary.

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Vodola: Relearning the Power of Prayer

A few days after my eleventh birthday, I was admitted to the hospital with a ruptured appendix. It felt like someone had spilled boiling soup all over my insides, and it landed me in the pediatric ward for more than three weeks.

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Jernberg: Hallstatt

After an amazing weekend of driving through central Europe, we had to head home from Lake Bled to Linz. In Linz we would drop off our rental car and then take a train back to Gaming. On our way back we were able to stop for lunch in Hallstatt and were lucky enough to soak in the beauty of this amazing town while munching on kabobs, good bread, and brie!

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Crites: Seeing Pope Francis in America

Regardless of whether they are Catholic, Pope Francis is someone who absolutely amazes Americans. He is puzzling, he is baffling. So when he came to America almost a year and a half ago for the first time as pope, twenty-four-hour news stations followed his every move.

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Schmiesing: Households are Families

Here at Franciscan University, we have a unique system called “Households.” Commonly explained as a “Catholic fraternity,” these small groups of men or women are united by more than just a banner, color, or t-shirt. Households are families.

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Jernberg & Niemaszyk: Beauty

My friends and I took advantage of our first free weekend. We spontaneously planned a trip in two days and ended up spending time in 4 countries: Austria, Germany, Italy, and Slovenia. It sounds like a lot, and hectic, and not worth it, but it was totally doable and a great asset to our Europe experiences.

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Niemaszyk & Jernberg: Avalanches

The Carthusian monastery I’m currently living and studying in has steep, slick roofs and Austria has snow built up on every surface from recent storms: the perfect equation for an “avalanche.” At any time of day, heavy snow will unexpectedly slide off the roof and crash to the ground, disturbing the silence and even waking people from their sleep in the midst of the night.

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The Best Paper in the World: The Troubadour

I joined The Troubadour as a freshman during my first week at Franciscan University. I came in as a mass communications major with a concentration in journalism and had high hopes to become a mainstream newspaper journalist. It made sense to join the school paper. I had been a part of my school paper in high school and wrote a few articles so had some experience that would help me be successful, but my editors gave me the tools I needed to do well. Within my first year at Franciscan, I wrote over 40 articles on topics ranging from expansions on campus, student government, the March for Life, and more.

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Crites: Reasons Why Franciscan Professors are the Best

Because of the very broad core program at Franciscan, Franciscan students have the opportunity to take classes with a wide variety of professors from different departments. Within my first semester, I knew there was something very special about this group of people who have dedicated themselves to the education of their younger brothers and sisters in Christ. So what is it that makes them the best?

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