What is Pastoral Counseling?

July 19, 2022

What is pastoral counseling anyway?

Pastoral counseling and care is a clinical practice that intertwines both theological (spiritual) and psychological concepts into a comprehensive framework to help individuals overcome challenges.

While pastoral counseling might not look that different when compared to other forms of therapy, what sets pastoral care apart is that the counselor incorporates spiritual exploration and the resources of faith traditions into the counseling process.

Beyond providing counseling, pastoral counseling utilizes other tools such as prayer, scripture study, and participation in a faith community to guide people toward their journey of transformation and greater connection.

You may seek pastoral counseling if you’re struggling with things such as grief and loss, issues related to a chronic or terminal illness, conflicts about your identity and spiritual beliefs or teachings, or mental health concerns that are directly linked to religious beliefs or doctrine.

Who are pastoral counselors?

Pastoral counselors are often ordained or commissioned individuals that have dedicated their professional study to the development of counseling skills linked with faith. The American Association of Pastoral Counselors (AAPC) recommends that pastoral counselors have one of these graduate degrees: Master of Divinity, Master or Doctorate in Biblical Studies, Theological Studies or Spiritual Studies, or a Master or Doctorate degree in Pastoral Counseling.

Similarly to how other professionals undergo advanced education before working in their chosen field, so do professional pastoral counselors.