Pastoral Counseling is beyond what anybody quoted in a textbook can tell you. Many people will debate that only the clergy can do pastoral counseling. Some even say that everybody does pastoral counseling because we are helping other people to become the “best-version-of-themselves.” This is what we do as pastoral counselors, but we do it in a unique way. A lot of people will go to a pastoral counselor and asked what to do in this situation. Some people like being told what to do. However, there is a difference between pastoral counselor and spiritual direction. A spiritual director cares a lot in terms of making sure the person receiving direction believes in the Triune God. Counselors, though, are not advise-givers and will not tell you what to do. Rather, the counselor will help the person heal their broken heart.
I often reflect on Simon of Cyrene in the Passion of the Christ. Jesus is being beaten and scorn to death out of his love for humanity. All of Jesus’s friends abandon him. People are there weeping and mourning the loss of their savior, but a lot of them are hurting him. Out of all the people who were present, only one of them help carry Jesus’s cross: Simone of Cyrene. We all have crosses to carry. Are you going to be someone’s Simon?
I believe there is something more to what pastoral counseling is about: that pastoral counselors are shepherds that are trained in a certain way. Each person has a human soul. That is what makes the human race unique and different from any other species. That is what God made us for. The capacity to think and to fully understand His love and being in communion with Him. Many people will not understand or believe it. It can seem too good to be true. The biggest problem that every human person faces is that they will never truly know how much they are loved. People will develop this maladaptive belief and then they end up developing an addiction or some behavioral disorder. They do not know what love is and they do not know how to challenge this core belief that they have.
How I identify as a Christian Therapist will be how I treat certain core beliefs by using a wide set of tool that includes the integration of spirituality. The very teaching of God’s love and allowing the Holy Spirit to communicate God’s love is what heals a client.
My name is Michael Graul and I am second year graduate student in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling. It is my dream to find a way to integrate spirituality in a therapeutic session. I currently work Franciscan University Wellness Center and the Gateway Rehab. On a personal side, I was a missionary for three years and served all around the world. I hope in the future to specialize in treating addictions and trauma.