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Pastoral Counseling is a clinical practice that integrates both psychological and theological concepts similar to other modes of therapy when it comes to the therapeutic process. What sets it apart is the way faith, spirituality, and theology are incorporated into the model. Pastoral counselors believe this incorporation of spiritual exploration and support can foster wholeness, healing, and growth in those who are seeking help.
Beyond providing psychotherapy, pastoral counselors utilize resources such as prayer, scripture study, and participation in the congregation community to help guide people on their journey toward transcendence, transformation, and greater connection to others.
Who Might Choose Pastoral Counseling?
According to a 1992 Gallup poll, 66% of survey participants reported a preference for a mental health professional who held spiritual beliefs and values, while 81% of people seeking mental health treatment stated a preference for a counselor with values similar to their own. This data may explain why some people seek help from religious leaders or counselors who share their faith. Pastoral counseling may offer benefit to people of all backgrounds, but it may be best suited to those seeking mental health support or guidance grounded in a theological or spiritual perspective.
People might choose pastoral counseling when they:
• Want to approach mental health issues from a faith-based perspective
• Are not comfortable in a formal counseling setting
• Are facing end-of-life issues
• Have concerns that secular counselors will not validate their religious beliefs
• Have had negative experiences with secular mental health professionals