Sunday, July 22, 2012

Pastoral Counseling and Coaching In Ministry Today

Whether you are a pastor, seminary student, or church affiliated therapist, I view you as a companion in the field of pastoral counseling. I will present theoretical and practical principles with this in mind. Together we share a joint commission from Christ to love and to heal. We seek to help people develop greater wholeness, liberating them from constraints that block fulfillment, strengthening their participation in knowing themselves and doing God’s will.

 My own calling as a psychologist and pastoral counselor has extended over forty years. During that time I have persistently encouraged pastors, chaplains, and Christian therapists to take back the high ground of counseling, an opportunity for ministry that in the twentieth century was too often relinquished to mental health professionals.

In defining the scope of this post, I have deliberately paired pastoral counseling with coaching to underscore what many pastors have told me they need: a practical method for interacting with parishioners that promotes people’s understanding of self and God, reconciliation with others, ability to cope with the crises faced throughout the lifespan, and motivation to integrate their Christian faith with the challenges of daily life.

The counseling aspect of this book presents a Christian personality theory and method for pastoral counseling intervention that sizes up factors disrupting a person’s life and offers growth strategies that move a person forward toward resolution.

 The coaching aspect responds to a counselee’s need to feel emotionally significant and understood by a caregiver, especially during times of vulnerability. When you exercise the coaching function of pastoral counseling, you build people up by providing an occasional pep talk, praying with them for God to show his loving guidance, or offering an encouraging word when they feel dispirited.

In counseling you listen with the third ear (a form of hearing that requires discernment in psychological and spiritual causes and effects), whereas in coaching you impart enthusiasm and faith that strengthens motivation. Both counseling and coaching are needed in pastoral ministry, since a pastoral counselor functions more as a consecrated shepherd of Christ than as a state licensed therapist.

As we make progress in this blog, you will put together pastoral counseling and coaching in creative ways that bring you fulfillment and serve your constituency well.

For more information about Christian counseling, read:

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