Taking care of your self implies taking care of the physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects; for example nutrition, leisure activities, emotions, relationships, etc. Counseling may assist in taking care of your mental well-being which affects your emotional and physical health. The point that I am trying to make is that a clinical counselor helps you take care of your life, and so, who helps you take care of your soul? Without separating life or daily living activities from faith or spirituality, who do you talk to about your faith or your spirituality? That would be the job of a Pastoral Counselor. I believe it is safe to offer as one of the definitions of Pastoral Counseling that a Pastoral counselor is someone who assist and guides you in taking good care of your life and your faith altogether.
But, what exactly is pastoral counseling? When people tell you that the concept of pastoral counseling does not really have an exact definition or identity and that pastoral counseling is usually interpreted as spiritual guidance or counseling for the clergy then it can be confusing and perhaps even difficult to explain. Let me attempt to show you how I perceive Pastoral Counseling, from a general point of view and as well as from my Catholic perspective.
Pastoral counseling allows me to incorporate faith, which offers a greater level of hope, and to incorporate a religion or spirituality to be able to guide my client’s faith. Counseling is a service provide to people willing to be counseled, whether they have some idea of the areas they want to work on or whether they just need to talk to someone. Likewise, I believe Pastoral counseling is offered and whether you have a strong sense of faith or not you are very welcomed and encouraged to incorporate faith as part of the counseling process.
As a catholic I believe in God, Jesus, and our mother Mary. Understanding that God, the one and only, loves you and created you in His image should be the most empowering truth to everyone. Being able to incorporate this truth in counseling as a grounding value provides so much potential for spiritual growth and personal improvement.
Working as a mental health counselor the number one desired quality is hope. A great deal of hope is needed to believe that your clients can change and accomplish their treatment goals. People who enter the field of counseling must have a strong sense of hope; that is why they are in this field after all right? Form the very small amount of experience I have in counseling I believe that it can be very easy to lose hope in mental health services; however, if you are a counselor and practice your faith, your source of hope can never be extinguished. Regular counselors do offer hope, God bless them, but Pastoral counselors offer hope plus the source of hope, just saying…