Pastoral Counseling at Franciscan University of Steubenville


Overlap between counseling and pastoral counseling skills can appear to be fairly large in their practicality but in reality there is often a lot of pastoral skills and techniques in actual clinical mental health counseling.

One technique in particular that could be effectively used in a pastoral setting is the concept of unconditional self-acceptance that comes from REBT. This very foundational pillar of REBT is essential to the health of the whole person: body, mind and spirit.

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Pastoral Counseling vs. Clinical Counseling?

What is pastoral Counseling? My first thought when I hear those words is an office inside the parish of my Catholic Church. Even though I have not experienced pastoral counseling in that setting, the stories of other parishioners begin to flood my memory. The wife seeking answers about the lack of communication in her marriage after thirty years, or the friend who just heard that it was best if she aborted the baby because there was something wrong with the “fetus.”

Pastoral Counseling at Franciscan University of Steubenville

Pastoral Counseling

Pastoral counseling had been a part of my life since I was a child, and was integral to forming my identity and understanding of a catholic sense of community. I considered myself to have a unique upbringing; as an only child, over the years I witnessed my parents form a charismatic Filipino community called Bukas Loob Sa Diyos (Open Your Hearts to God) after having newly immigrated to Canada.

Pastoral Counseling at Franciscan University of Steubenville

Reflections on Pastoral Counseling

My personal reflections of what I am studying in pastoral counseling takes me back to my protestant roots and my years of studies in preparation for ministry.  I would like to address three key points that Brenner (1998; Care of the Soul) discusses which are congruent to my own beliefs; 1) pastoral care, 2) pastoral spiritual counseling and 3) pastoral counselors licensed for community counseling.

Fork in a dirt road

Sharing the Road

Since I was a child, my friends always seemed to come to with their secrets: about what girls they were interested in, who did better on a test or what one of my friends said about another. At the time I thought that was normal, but as we grew older the secrets became more real and personal such as: family troubles, thoughts of depression and advice on how to navigate tricky situations. Little did I know it was molding me into an empathetic and understanding person and ultimately my career.

Pastoral Counseling at Franciscan University of Steubenville

What is Pastoral Counseling?

The field of counseling encompasses a vast array of theoretical disciplines and specialties. Among these is pastoral counseling. Pastoral counseling is similar to other forms of counseling in that it is interested in how the client’s mind, body, and soul operate and perceive reality. The counselors with a pastoral counseling discipline, like in other trains of counseling, are constantly becoming more informed about new counseling techniques, theories, and research findings.

nick miller 'help me'

5 Things I’ve Learned About the Human Experience (Studying Pastoral Counseling at Franciscan University of Steubenville)

For the past year, I’ve been studying in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling graduate program at Franciscan University of Steubenville. More recently, my fellow students and I have been exploring what it means to be a Catholic Pastoral Counselor. A particularly holistic flavor of the profession, Catholic Pastoral Counseling uses the truth of the Catholic faith as well as evidence-based psychological techniques to help and heal every level of the human person: their body, their soul, and their mind.