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.
“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.
For those of us who are not quite making the big bucks, or making few bucks at all, at least getting to window shop and dream about what we might like to buy if we won the lottery is a realistic alternative.
Probably the most important message I have tried to relay in all of my posts at this point is that the counselor is not perfect–shocking, I know–and certainly not immune to depositing his or her own baggage in the midst of a session, not in the least. Various forms of this imperfection present within a session, and luckily many of them are noticeable or at the very least easy to rectify once detected.
I think one of the key skills of pastoral counseling would be the integration of spirituality into the counseling process. One key way in which this integration could be demonstrated is with a client who is having difficulty in a relationship and needs to work towards forgiveness of a past hurt.
We have talked a great deal in all of my counseling classes thus far about counseling in general being a certain walking or journeying with our clients. By this, I mean to say that counselors do not simply stand there at the finish line of “health.”
“As situations in the lives of others hold our clients mentally, spiritually, physically and emotionally hostage, I pray that God bless me with the ability to disarm the spirit of captivity with prayer, faith, and love as a Pastoral Counselor”. God bless!
There’s this notion (I’m not sure how widely it is held, but it exists) that those in the counseling field are in the field initially to learn how to fix themselves, or those in their environment, or perhaps both. And really, I don’t imagine that is too far off the mark, considering the amount of introspection it takes to be able to reach into someone’s world, pull out the themes and major characters of their life and give it back to them in a new, healthy perspective that evokes positive change–all while being able to model that kind of lifestyle in a way that convinces the client it is possible.
So, in my last blog, I sort of jogged around the idea of Pastoral Counseling being an avenue for God to work through the counselor and the client in ways that help both of them grow in faith and in health. I mean for this blog to be a continuation of that, but to highlight another avenue of how Pastoral Counseling calls the counselor to be closer to God through the vessel of the client’s experience’s. First, as you will find is typical of me, I will offer a real life example.
Going through life, and especially growing up, we are constantly asked what we want to be when we grow up. Some kids say they want to be president, others want to be an astronaut, and some claim they will be dinosaurs.