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.
The spirit especially needs to be accepted by a person because in our culture so often attacks the spirit calling a restrictive aspect to the flesh and living a hedonistic life style. For Christians, the spirit gives life to each of our bodies and mind, so by accepting that aspect about who we are then we become a more mature person and Christian. Yet also it is necessary to accept not just the idea of the spirit but the actual spirit given to each of us. The unique part of who we are that makes us… well us.
The spirit animates us and gives us our personality, so when we accept that part of us then we become more secure, we become founded in the truth, and we become more alive.
I know I want to become more alive and for me accepting my spirit, accepting whom I truly was, was and is a long process. The thing about it is an ongoing process. It doesn’t happen over night but takes some time to learn about yourself and learn about what you are accepting.
As a pastoral counseling they can take the actual idea and practice of getting clients to believe and practice unconditional self-acceptance. What does this look like?
Well that is a good question, it starts with looking at what the client already believes about themselves. This can come through a variety of techniques all coming from REBT. The thing that needs to be kept in mind is the willingness of the client to deal with his or her own beliefs. This affects the way a client can relate to themselves and to you as the counselor.
Next the client needs to start to change their beliefs by challenging the way they see themselves. Accepting yourself is not an easy task especially when you have a lot of thing you may not like about yourself. The challenge for the counselor is to navigate around looking at what the clients thinks and then accept those faults as not a determining factor of their whole identity. By adhering to the part-whole fallacy, they can see themselves in a light that doesn’t reflect their whole identity, which is who they are in their spirit, which is the way Christ, views them.
Who you are as a person is not what you think you are but who you are before God, and by accepting that about yourself you can come to a more full life.