The pastoral counselor in a parish setting
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This paper deals with the role and identity of the pastoral counselor, first, as it has developed in Scripture and in the history of the church; and second as it can be fulfilled in a parish setting.
The first part of Chapter One examines the Biblical content of the term "pastor," emphasizing that both the Old Testament and the New Testament describe the role of the pastor as being the shepherd of the whole flock and its individual members. The second part of the first chapter explores the development of pastoral care in the history of the church, noting how it both molded and responded to the dominant theological and cultural themes of each period.
Chapter Two is a brief history of the development of the modern pastoral counseling movement. This chapter demonstrates that the movement came about in an attempt to incorporate new psychological theory and clinical practice into education for ministry. The question as to whether the dominant force in pastoral counseling will be psychotherapy or pastor ministry is raised as an issue in the very earliest attempts to organize pastoral counseling as a separate discipline or specialization.
Chapter Three uses a survey of current pastoral counseling literature and the results of interviews which I conducted with pastoral counselors to describe the current orientation of the pastoral counseling movement. The conclusions reached is that the identity of that pastoral counseling, as represented by the membership of the American Association of Pastoral Counselors and the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education, is more significantly within the field of psychotherapy than it is within the field of pastoral ministry.
Chapter Four suggest ways that pastoral counselors may recover or strengthen their pastoral identity. This chapter explores the meaning of ordination to the pastoral ministry, with special consideration given to the ministry of Word, Sacrament, and Order. In addition the appropriateness of the parish as a setting for pastoral counseling, the importance of a theology of the laity to the fulfillment of pastoral identity, and the distinction between therapy and discipleship are addressed. The conclusion of this chapter is that a dynamic relationship to the people of God is an essential requirement for the establishment of a pastoral identity for pastoral counseling.
The final chapter demonstrates some of the ways in which the special skills and calling of the pastoral counselor may be used in the parish and addresses some of the objections which are raised to the practice of counseling by parish pastors. This chapter develops some of the benefits to the church of parish based pastoral counseling: the training of the laity for pastoral care, the management of the pastoral care system of a parish, and utilization of the traditional pastoral resources. In summary, this chapter makes the point that the parish is a natural place for the practice of pastoral counseling and suggests some ways by which it might become the more usual place for such practice.