Pastoral counseling is a unique form of counseling/psychotherapy which uses spiritual resources as well as psychological understanding to facilitate healing and growth. Pastoral counselors are trained mental health professionals who also have in-depth theological training. The process provides for psychologically sound therapy that includes the religious and spiritual dimensions of living. Pastoral Counselors are in an especially advantageous position to integrate the psychological and theological disciplines. A client in pastoral counseling can count on his or her values and beliefs being respected.
The pastoral aspect of this counseling includes acknowledgement of the God-given free will with which every person is created. Pastoral counselors respect the pace at which people need to go through the healing process, even respecting the possibility that a person may choose not to heal. The pastoral piece also involves offering respect and empathy to a client in his or her suffering and in the individual’s efforts to be open to healing. The pastoral shows up in the compassion that a pastoral counselor offers to the client, sometimes by speaking the truth in love. It often means naming the strengths in a client’s life – naming where the client has started from and where he or she is going. It involves claiming God’s presence in all of what is happening for clients in the therapeutic process and in their lives.