Pastoral Counseling, Christian Counseling
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Introduction to Pastoral Counseling and Christian Counseling
The term Pastoral Counseling is used in at least two senses. One is the specialized care that ministers, usually in church settings, provide for hurting persons in a structured therapeutic relationship. By virtue of the trust and accessibility of their role, ministers are given many opportunities for these relationships. The other is the professional, licensed designation of Certified Pastoral Counselor. There is a sharp distinction between church ministers and CPCs, the latter possessing years of advanced graduate level training and supervised practice toward state licensure.
It is important to maintain the distinction between these two works, while at the same time not to limit “pastoral counseling” as the exclusive territory of either profession. Most certified therapists, whether CPCs, LMFTs, LPCs or others recognize the value working in tandem with ministers. This is often in a joint relationship where the therapist provides the specialized care while the minister mediates the spiritual resources of the faith community during the period of assistance. Most people of faith want the assistance they receive from mental health professionals to be congruent with their beliefs, and therapists often acquire the help of ministers to provide that assurance. It is not uncommon for clients to sign disclosure agreements that allow the therapist and minister to confer in the client’s best interest.
While it is possible for licensed therapists to hurt their clients by minimizing or cutting off the spiritual resources offered by ministers, it is equally damaging for ministers to presume a level of expertise they do not possess and maintain helping relationships that would best be taken over by trained professionals. Ministers should recognize when they are in over their heads, and make appropriate referrals.
The resources below are designed not for CPCs, but for ministers who provide pastoral counsel. As such, these books are not as technical and theoretically based, although they are responsibly written by respected licensed practitioners and seasoned academics in the field. They are biased toward the short-term, solution-focused therapeutic approaches that are most commonly recommended for ministers.
Note: Another important work is Spiritual Care, which although overlapping significantly with Pastoral Care and Counseling, is usually categorized in the field of spiritual direction, which will be included in a separate Ministry Resource Guide on Spiritual Formation (projected completion January 2013).
Pastoral Counseling & Christian Counseling – RESOURCES BY CATEGORY
- Ian F. Jones, The Counsel of Heaven on Earth: Foundations for Biblical Christian Counseling — Offers a well-crafted evangelical theology of Christian counseling. Uses theology to disassemble (critique) secular theory, and then reassembles a new whole that is properly integrative
- Frank A. Minirth, Paul D. Meier, and Donald E. Ratliff, Introduction to Psychology and Counseling: Christian Perspectives and Applications, Second Edition – A thorough introduction to the psychological concepts that underlie counseling theories and approaches.
- Stephen P. Greggo, Counseling and Christianity: Five Approaches, Christian Association for Psychological Studies Partnership Book – A technical volume describing five views of the science of counseling interfaces with Christian theology, and how this affects the work of the counselor.
Other Helfpul Volumes:
- David G. Benner, Care of Souls: Revisioning Christian Nurture and Counsel — Emphasizes the spiritual dimensions of common emotional and psychological struggles, and shows how to address them as a caregiver of souls and not a quasi-therapist.
- Tim Clinton and George Ohlschlager, Competent Christian Counseling, Volume One: Foundations and Practice of Compassionate Soul Care — Not a “how-to” but an excellent perspective on the nature of Christian counseling as soul care, and its theological, spiritual, biological and psychosocial roots.
- Randolph K. Sanders, Christian Counseling Ethics: A Handbook for Therapists, Pastors and Counselors – Not addressed exclusively to ministers, yet addresses the frequent ethical dilemmas all helping professionals experience in counseling, but with a strong sensitivity to scripture.
Christian Counseling – Dictionaries and Reference Manuals
- Tim Clinton and Ron Hawkins, The Popular Encyclopedia of Christian Counseling: An Indispensible Tool for Helping People with Their Problems – A landmark reference on Christian counseling, including nearly 300 entries by more than 100 recognized Christian counselors.
Other Helpful Volumes:
- Rodney J. Hunter, Dictionary of Pastoral Care and Counseling — Helps ministers stay theologically grounded on the spiritual and mental health issues encountered in pastoral care.
- W. Brad Johnson and William L. Johnson, The Pastor’s Guide to Psychological Disorders and Treatments – Defines most psychological disorders, and provides guidelines for selecting mental health professionals to work in tandem with pastoral care-giving.
Christian Counseling – Comprehensive Practice Manuals
- Dr. Tim Clinton, Dr. Archibald D. Hart, and George Ohlschlager, Caring for People God’s Way: Personal and Emotional Issues, Addictions, Grief, and Trauma – Probably the most comprehensive guide to pastoral counseling. Main contribution: specific concepts and strategies on over fifteen presenting issues in counseling.
- Cynthia Franklin and Rowena Fong, The Church Leader’s Counseling Resource Book: A Guide to Mental Health and Social Problems – Offers educational insight and practical approaches for dealing with many commonly encountered issues that are not dealt with adequately in other ministry-based manuals.
Other Helpful Volumes:
- Gary R. Collins, Christian Counseling: A Comprehensive Guide – The classic in the field among evangelicals from one of the founders of the Christian counseling movement. Main contribution: tested strategies for specific counseling situations.
- Dr. Ron Hawkins and Dr. Tim Clinton, Quick-Reference Guide to Biblical Counseling – Gives ministers ready-made yet responsible ways to be a competent and caring presence in common pastoral situations.
- John C. Thomas and Lisa Sosin, Therapeutic Expedition: Equipping the Christian Counselor for the Journey – Traces the typical development of a long-term helping relationship, and guides the counseor through each phase, thus the “expedition.”
Christian Counseling – Manuals for Short-Term Pastoral Therapy
- David G. Benner, Strategic Pastoral Counseling: A Short-Term Structured Model – Presents the approach of Strategic Pastoral Counseling (SPC). It elevates the uniqueness of pastoral care, and draws an effective line on issues beyond the minister’s capability. Best guide to short-term therapy.
Other Helpful Volumes:
- Donald Capps, Giving Counsel: A Minister’s Guidebook – A popular volume on pastoral counseling from a recognized professor of pastoral theology.
- Howard Clinebell, Basic Types of Pastoral Care and Counseling: Resources for the Ministry of Healing and Growth — A long-recognized standard in the field of pastoral care and counseling.
- Richard Dayringer, The Heart of Pastoral Counseling: Healing Through Relationship — A multi-disciplinary approach for utilizing pastoral counseling relationship to bring about positive change.
- James E. Dittes, Pastoral Counseling: The Basics – Offers answers to some of a minister’s most basic counseling questions and provides insight into other fundamental issues.
- Russ Harris, Christ-Centered Therapy: Empowering the Self – Christ-centered Internal Family Systems combines the power of internal system therapy with the healing power of God for lasting change.
- Charles Allen Kollar, Solution-Focused Pastoral Counseling — Argues that therapy need not be long-term to produce results, and suggests a model for conducting short-term sessions that help people get their lives back on track.
- Dan Montgomery, Christian Counseling That Really Works: Compass Therapy in Action – A deeply theological approach to pastoral counseling with a strong emphasis on the Trinity and man’s need for relationship with God.
- Charles L. Rassieur, I Have a Plan: A Pastor’s Guide to Counsel – Rassieur presents a detailed outline for short-term counseling that focuses on the issues that are at the core of most troubled marriages.
- Howard Stone, Strategies for Brief Pastoral Counseling — Eleven leaders in pastoral counseling lay out the rationale for brief pastoral counseling, and suggest specific strategies for common pastoral care situations.
Christian Counseling – Manuals for Premarital Counseling (see separate guide, Pre-Marital Counseling)
Christian Counseling – Special Issues
- Abuse: Sexual – Len Hedges-Goettl and Daniel G. Bagby, Sexual Abuse: Pastoral Responses. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2004.
- Abuse: Woman-Battering – Carol J. Adams, Woman-Battering (Creative Pastoral Care and Counseling Series). Abingdon Press, 1994.
- Addiction – Bucky Dann and Daniel G. Bagby, Addiction: Pastoral Responses. Abingdon Press, 2002.
- Alcohol – Andrew J. Weaver, Harold G. Koenig, and Howard Stone, Pastoral Care of Alcohol Abusers (Creative Pastoral Care and Counseling Series). Abingdon Press, 2009.
- Anxiety – Allan Hugh Cole, Jr., Be Not Anxious: Pastoral Care of Disquieted Souls. Eerdmans, 2008.
- Crisis Counseling
- Death and Dying
- Depression – Binford W. Gilbert, The Pastoral Care of Depression: A Guidebook. Haworth Pastoral Press, 1998.
- Elder Care
- Grief, Transition and Loss
- Life Cycle, Life Transitions – Richard Dayringer, Life Cycle: Psychological and Theological Perceptions. Routledge, 2000.
- Marriage and Family
Pastoral Counseling and Christian Counseling – Organizations and Journals
- American Association of Christian Counselors
- Association for Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE)
- Association of Professional Chaplains
- Christian Association for Psychological Studies
- Journal of Psychology and Christianity
- Journal of Pastoral Care
- Journal of Health Care Chaplaincy
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Related Ministry Resources
See Other Resources on Pastoral Care and Counseling:
- Christian Counseling and Pastoral Care, Intro
- Pastoral Care
- Christian Counseling, Pastoral Counseling
- Pre-Marital Christian Counseling
- Ministry Resources for Weddings and Funerals
See Resources on Over 100 Areas of Christian Ministry: