I first attempted to answer two questions in this blog; however, this being a topic which necessitates not only detail but proper attention, I am only able to answer the first half of one question within the characters allotted.
Today’s blog will explore the relationship developed in pastoral counseling. I am a firm believer that if statements, already made, have been made eloquently by another and express, in words, those thoughts you have attempted to concisely verbalize, then by all means use whichever is most eloquent, just cite it. Throughout this investigation I will make reference to such writers as David Benner (2003), Melvin Blanchette (1983), Veneta Lorraine-Poirier (2003), and Kevin Culligan (1983).
3. What is the relationship between persons invloved?
Blanchette offers several statements that describe how the pastoral counselor enters into the therapeutic relationship: 1) the most important quality of the pastoral counselor is to be a person who can be with others; 2) the effective pastoral counselor facilitates and motivates a person to make choices and exercise the freedom that is within; 3) the pastoral counselor is no divine genius, but, a human person who can be with another who struggles with the unfinished business of becoming human; 4) the pastoral counselor helps the person discern what is really healthy, assisting in the process of making decisions that will enhance life and which enable them to become what they are meant to be; 5) the pastoral counselor’s task is to help persons formulate and test out the validity of their decisions; and finally, 6) any solution to a problem must be undertaken with a clear view toward the importance of values, these values are the silent and hidden potentials of behavior which take the form of questions we ask of life. Through the dialogic process of pastoral counseling, the person is helped to frame and understand the question so that the answer might be realized not in the abstract but in the day-to-day existence of life.
“Just as the relationship between the pastor and the flock, between God and His people, is marked by both compassion and challenge, the relationship between pastoral counselor and client is marked by similar characteristics of growth. If, through the person of the pastoral counselor, a person meets a God who is with His people in their joys and in their sufferings, the client is on a path toward experiencing the freedom which counselors see as the goal” (p. 31).
David Benner offers the following illustration of the therapeutic relationship, “pastoral counseling is, by its very nature, a special and unique relationship. Like emergency room care, it is a form of intensive treatment that should be replaced as soon as possible by more regular and ongoing care, in this case, pastoral care” (p.66). With this illustration in mind, the relationship of the counselor and client becomes clearer, the client brings their current life situation that is hindering their ability to grow, both personally and spiritually. The client may have a clear idea of their goal or where they want to be and how they want to feel, but the path leading to that end point is hidden from their sight. The relationship is similar to a lighthouse guiding a ship into harbor. The ship has all the capabilities to make it into harbor safely; however, the darkness prevents the captian from seeing that course and is in need of assistance by the light shed within the lighthouse. Simply put, the pastoral counselor, enlightened by faith, seeks to shed light on the safest course to aid the client in achieving their goal. However, it is most important to recognize that just as the ship has the capabilities to achieve safe harbor without assistance, the client holds within him or her all the answers they need, they are just temporarily blinded to seeing such courses that would allow them to continue on their path to growth in personal relationships, social/occupational functioning and growth in their spiritual relationship with God.
In the next blog I will begin to depict the relationship between to Spiritual Director and directee. But first, I will offer a beginning point illustrated by Veneta Lorraine-Poirier. “Spiritual direction does not address psychological issues directly; therefore, when these issues are predominant, attention to them must take precedence. To be in spiritual direction requires the capacity to look at what one really wants. This is only possible when personal identity is sufficiently intact and the ego has sufficient strength to name these desires and to embrace failures and limitations” (p.58).