The role of a pastoral counselor is different than that of the psychologist, psychiatrist or secular counselor. Yes, each is in the helping profession and desires to assist people. However, the pastoral counselor is uniquely qualified to deal with presenting problems such as depression, anxiety or marital conflict from a spiritual perspective as well as the physical, mental and emotional. Pastoral counselors know that man was created with a spirit, soul and body and that each of these areas are affected by issues such as depression. Therefore, the method or modality of counseling that the pastoral counselor employs must be large enough to address not only the problem but how the problem affects each area of the person.
Pastoral counselors should be trained in theological matters as well as Christian counseling techniques. As they go through their training they must be aware of the secular philosophies that are so engrained in the field of counseling. In essence, the pastoral counselor should be trained in two disciplines rather than just one. These two also need to be kept in balance with the theological taking the primary position. The techniques that a Christian counselor uses should never violate spiritual truth.
In addition to the intellectual training of the pastoral or Christian counselor there is a requirement for spiritual maturity. The counselor’s own walk with the Lord is a vital consideration that should not be passed over. It is, in fact, the greatest component or asset that they have. Pastoral counselors know that while they may show compassion or share a spiritual perspective it is really the Holy Spirit who is the counselor and does the work in the client. Without spiritual maturity it is difficult for the counselor to get themselves out of the way and hear what the Holy Spirit would like to say to the client.
When pastoral or Christian counseling is undertaken from this perspective it should show much more compassion, love, gentleness and hope than secular counseling. In addition to being loving and kind, Christian counseling involves the discovery of absolute truth. When this truth is discovered and followed the success rate is much higher because the individual is following divine truth rather that human philosophy.
Watch for the candidate conference call information in your email,
Rev. David M. Smuin