Have You Ever Considered Going To A Pastoral Counselor? Do You Have Questions About Pastoral Counseling and Pastoral Psychotherapy? Here are the Answers.

Brief Orgins of Pastoral Counseling and Psychotherapy

Pastoral  Counseling has evolved through the years from religious counseling  explaining dogma and/or spiritual counseling (compassionate care) to  what is known today as Pastoral Counseling and  Pastoral Psychotherapy  also know as Pastoral Therapy, which integrates theology, psychology and the behavioral sciences as well as the latest findings from quantum physics.  

Today  Pastoral Therapy has evolved to encompass state of the art evidenced  based techniques to help individuals resolve physical emotional, mental  issues and teach couples relationship skills to resolve conflict and  relationship challenges.   It also has a unique gift in that it not only  has an in depth understanding of relationships and how the mind works  for and against itself but also goes another step to focus on the  spiritual dimension of life to heal and transform the human condition.  

Pastoral  therapy has continually evolved taking the best from quantum science,  behavioral psychology and spirituality to help the clients tap into  their psychological insights and spiritual discernment as well as access  intuitive resources to look at life differently and respond to their  life situaltion from a boarder view.  

According the the American Association for Pastoral Counseling (AAPC) pastoral psychotherapy today   with its emphasis on psychological understanding as well as religious  or spiritual understanding is a powerful therapy to promote healing and  growth.   Pastoral Counseling and psychotherapy today has  now become a major provider of mental health services in this country,  accounting for over 3 million hours of treatment annually in both  institutional and private settings. 

Have You Ever Considered Going To A Pastoral Counselor?

Do You Have Questions About Pastoral Counseling and Pastoral Psychotherapy?      Here are the Answers.

Many have found that pastoral therapy because of its integration  of behavioral science and spiritual principles and practices is a  comfort and help when dealing with many of the complicated interpersonal  issues of marriage and work relationship and the fragmentation taking  place due to increasing global and economic stress in society. 

However, there is still confusion about the difference between  secular counselors and pastoral counselors as well as the difference  among the various sub categories considered to be pastoral counseling  including: biblical counselors and religious and/or  Christian counselors. (29) 

Within the spectrum of  mental health professionals, the pastoral individual and marriage  counseling and pastoral psychotherapy appear to be among the most  misunderstood.  Personal and  anecdotal evidence suggests that many individuals have an incomplete,  inaccurate, or nonexistent understanding of the training, capabilities,  and role of a pastoral counselor. There may be suspicion of pastoral therapy because of its religious heritage. (29)

As sophisticated and integrated as modern pastoral therapy is,  it still has a dark history dating back to the beginning of the sixteen  and seventieth century when religious dogma ruled the masses with fear,  guilt and shame.  Copernicus, (23), Galileo, Darwin and many others whose research challenged church dogma were immediately condemned and branded heretics. (14)

Even up until the beginning of the nineteenth century, science  and theology have had a tenuous and skeptical relationship and when  there was reconciliation, it was simple agreement that each would keep  to its own realm.  (14)

There has been, up until recently, a gap between secular and the religious movements.  Science  and Religion just like liberal spirituality and conservative organized  religion have gone from skeptical tolerance and outright distain for one  another to embracing and integrating with one another taking the best  from both worlds. (14)  

Historical religious counseling with its legalistic and dogmatic  condemnation of scientific thought has made the general population  leery and uncomfortable as well as skeptical and dubious of any kind of  benefit of an approach that comes out of religion.

The confusion and fear of pastoral therapy brings up the need  for more education for the public to give them clarity of the dimensions  of pastoral therapy especially modern pastoral therapy, which has  evolved along with science and behavioral psychology and operates today  as a sophisticated and consolidated, integrative mind, body spirit  psychotherapy in the broadest context. (14)

 For many years, secular traditional therapies followed suit and  stayed on the side of science, while religious counseling stayed on the  side of church doctrine. However according to a news article in Newsweek  “Science Finds God” “theology and science are entering into a new  relationship,” says physicist turned theologian Robert John Russell, who  in 1981 founded the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences at the  Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley.  (14) 

 This evolution of  integration has continued to bring science and religion and spirituality  and evidenced based psychology together into a more modern pastoral  therapy as a valid form of counseling and psychotherapy.

 However because of its  history individuals may be confused about certain aspects and the nature  of pastoral therapy. There may be also confusion about the difference  between secular counselors and pastoral counselors as well as the  difference among the various sub categories considered to be pastoral  counseling including: biblical counselors and religious and/or  Christian counselors. (29) 

This article discusses  the merits of pastoral counseling and psychotherapy over religious  counseling as well as traditional secular counseling and psychotherapy.  It also discusses the need and relevance of pastoral counseling and  psychotherapy (pastoral therapy) with answers to common questions and  concerns the consumer may have regarding the current practice of  pastoral therapy.

The Need for Pastoral Therapy

Allison Buckholz has written many articles discussing the need and interest of people to have a greater spiritual connection. Another article on “Pastoral Counseling and Pastoral  Psychotherapy” states there is a growing demand for faith-based  psycho-therapy which included a strong spiritual element. The article also cited the Washington Post 2005 article, written by Alison Buckholtz, titled: Help From Above: In Times of Trouble, Growing Numbers of People Take Comfort in Faith-Based Therapy.”  

Many have found that pastoral therapy is a comfort and help when  dealing with many of their daily stresses and spiritual problems.   The reasons are many but I will start with the following research:

The demand for spirituality based counseling is on the rise (11) because interest in spirituality is on the rise.   A recent report, Religion and the Public Interest, incorporating the research findings of groups including the Gallup Organization and Lilly Endowment, Inc., reported

  • 96% of the population- 242 million American say they believe in God (Religion and the Public Interest, 1996)
  • 79% of Americans acknowledge that faith helps with recovery from illness (USA Today, 1996)
  • 77% of patients feel physicians should consider their spiritual needs
  • 58% of respondents to a Newsweek poll said they feel the need to experience spiritual growth.

Health care professionals are starting to recognize that  patients, who have a strong spiritual support, have a tendency to heal  faster and better.  Even those  who are terminally ill are more peaceful about their exit when supported  by faith based therapy because they have more of an assurance about  their here after. (11)

Pastoral therapy today has become a credible and viable alternative to traditional mental health. Pastoral Therapy is unique, in that it not only helps the  individual cope with day to day problems, but it can also go beyond  daily stress challenges to help the individual come into contact with  greater meaning and purpose. 

 Pastoral  therapy unlike traditional secular therapy has the unique task of  helping clients improve coping skill by finding fulfillment in the  spiritual dimension of existence and provides the client a larger  context to heal all problems. (8)

Douglas Ronsheim, Executive Director of the American Association of Pastoral Counselors (AAPC), (10) states “the number of the counselors who integrate a faith-based view of therapy with academic training and licensure is increasing. ”Pastoral therapy has continually gained in popularity and is rapidly growing (16) and increasing as a preferred mode of support. 

Although the interest in spirituality has gone up, interest in  organized Religion has declined (18) (34). Although religion remains  popular among conservatives, study after study has shown that people are  leaving organized religion in masses. (18), (19), (20), (21) (34).  Church attendance has steadily declined since the 1950s (18).  This is especially true among the younger population.  (19) (20)(34)

In spite of the decline of religion, however, many individuals  are seeking help from pastoral therapists. Pastoral therapy is not only  becoming popular because of the down turn of the economy and the  government and management care cutting mental health benefits, but also  because many individuals are looking for answers for both secular and  spiritual concerns.  (2) 

In an article from Medscape Psychiatry & Mental Health, July  20, 2010, author Pamela L. Owens, PhD, is quoted as saying: “The number  of patients with Mental Health and Substance Abuse [MHSA] conditions  treated in Emergency Room Visits have never been higher (one out of  eight) and MHSA conditions have been steadily increasing for more than a  decade,” (15)

Owens also states that stress and mental health issues and resulting hospital room visits are at an all time high.  Almost 12 million of the 95 million total emergency  department (ED) visits (1 in 8) were made by adults in the United States  in 2007 who were due a mental health and/or substance abuse (MHSA)  problem. This rise has become a particular concern with the advent of  managed mental health care, where there has been a reduction in mental  health benefits available to people especially in counseling services  available to them.  (15)

The research also found that the most common MHSA-related reason for these visits was  a mood disorder (42.7%), followed by anxiety disorders (26.1%),  alcohol-related problems (22.9%), and drug disorders (17.6%). Nearly 41%  of the total MHSA visits led to hospitalization. (15)

 According to the Bureau of Labor Statics there has also been a  rapid rise in the need for secular mental health counselors and marriage  family therapist has rose more that  (19%) with the need for pastoral individual counselors has risen more (29% rise).   

There is even a more increasing need for pastoral marriage  family counselors with a expected rise of (31% rise). The needs in all  of the areas need is expected to continue to increase for mental health  service providers in general.  (1), (16)

Pastoral individual and marriage therapist have been able to  address the same issues with the same quality of care as secular mental  health and marriage therapist.   There  is an added benefited to seeing a pastoral therapist because more and  more people are seeking with a spiritual perspective. (16)

What Are the Various Forms of Pastoral Counseling and Pastoral Psycho-therapy?

Pastoral  Care, Religious Counseling, Christian Counseling and Pastoral  Counseling and Psychotherapy are commonly lumped together when thinking  about pastoral counseling, however there are major differences between  them.  Here are the differences according to “The Theory and Practice of Pastoral Counseling” (30)

  •    Pastoral care is the broad ministry  that includes the many ways that spiritually energized care is given to  people in faith communities for the basic purpose of enabling them to  live life with the maximum possible wholeness. It is different than  Pastoral counseling in that it largely takes place informally and spontaneously and would  include being with parishioners in activities of celebration and  mornings. This could include day-to-day activities such as baptisms,  funerals weddings and other church functions as well as hospital visits  and hospice care.
  •    Pastoral counseling also refers to a specialized form of psychotherapy or  counseling offered by licensed mental health professionals who have  been formally trained in pastoral counseling (which is the primary focus  of this article).   In addition to their training in psychology or a  related field, these professional counselors have in-depth graduate  level training in theology and religion.  Having advanced training  enables them to address the psycho-spiritual issues, as well as the  mental health issues, with which many people struggle.  It also gives  them a unique qualification and perspective that most secular counselors  and therapists lack.
  •     Pastoral counseling is a focused form of pastoral care  geared toward enabling individuals, couples, and families to cope more  constructively with crises, losses, difficult decisions, and other  anxiety-laden experiences. It differs from pastoral care in that it:  involves the explicit desire of clients to receive help from a  counselor; involves mutual understanding of goals and length of the  helping process; and requires the practitioners to be well trained in  methodologies and theories.  Pastoral  counselors usually have additional education including a Masters Degree  with or without ordination and certification in a specialization such  as addiction counseling, marriage counseling etc.   
  •    Pastoral psychotherapy is a more extended form of pastoral counseling that involves exploring complex  emotional and relationship issues. It differs from pastoral counseling  in that this kind of therapy should be done by specialists who have  academic training and supervision beyond that of the seminary education.  Usually advance training in the behavioral sciences and a Ph.D. in  Counseling, Psychology or Mental Health.  

The main difference is depth of the problem and time needed to  integrate and consolidate a new mind, body spirit perspective into one’s  life. Pastoral counseling (short term) therapy would normally be ideal  for life transitions involving grief or loss, ie. divorce, death of a  spouse, retirement including overwhelming feelings of loss, loneliness,  isolation etc. as well as any situation involving interpersonal  conflicts ie. marriage conflict parent child conflict. 

 Pastoral psychotherapy  (long term) more in-depth counseling dealing with more habitual long  term problems listed above along with more debilitating, self limiting  thoughts and emotions affecting self esteem.  Pastoral psychotherapy  is  successful with many conditions such as chronic depression, anxiety, panic attracts etc.   For the purpose of this article both forms of therapy are combined as Pastoral therapy not to minimize either.  

What Is The Difference Between Pastoral therapy and Biblical or Christian Counseling?

Christian Counseling

According  to a 2014 survey of 35,000 Americans, approximately 80% identify  themselves as Christians. [33] Other surveys in recent years have shown  percentages as high as 83%.  In addition, a Gallup poll conducted in the  early 1990s showed that nearly two-thirds of those surveyed preferred a  mental health therapist who represented spiritual beliefs and values,  over 80% wanted therapy to include their personal beliefs and values.  

 Considering  these numbers, it shouldn’t be a surprise that a fairly significant  number of those seeking professional help for emotional, psychological,  or behavioral problems would choose a therapist who not only understands  the role of spirituality and faith in the struggles they face, but who  is also qualified and prepared to address it in therapy sessions.

Christian counseling a specialized form of pastoral counseling that puts emphasis on the teachings from the bible and following the religious tenants of the bible as the sole  reference for health and well being. Today Christian Counseling is  attempting to integrate religion with secular psychology by using  tenants of science that agree with the bible as part of the counseling  process.

 In Christian Counseling, there is a strong emphasis on personal responsibility and choice as surrendering to the will of God over sinMaladaptive behaviors are a matter of sin and therefore subject to confrontation and education in God’s word, counseling the client to choose behavior that is obedient to God’s word, thus removing the sin in their life. Christian counseling has been criticized for being too dogmatic and defining mental health symptoms as sin which can compound an individuals problems ie. a person suffering from anorexia being told he or she is suffering from sin only incurs increase guilt and shame which can increase the symptoms and additional unworthiness.

The  difference between Christian Counseling and Pastoral therapy is that  the pastoral therapy provided by pastoral counselors integrates clinical  methods and theories of secular psychology with theology and Biblical  and / or other spiritual teachings and principles.  Pastoral counselors  respect and acknowledge their  clients’ spiritual beliefs, needs, and concerns in the context holistic psychotherapy and aspires to  help them live a more integrated and fulfilling life. 

Pastoral  therapists frequently incorporate a clients spiritual and religious  beliefs as an important aspect of their human experience.  Seeing the  client in the context of mind, body and spirit naturally results in a  more holistic approach to therapy which is increasing in its popularity.  

Secular  counseling on the other hand minimizes the clients’ religious beliefs  and spirituality and /or excludes them all together in secular  psychotherapy. 

There  were impressive findings reported in the Journal of the American  Medical Association (JAMA 1998 Vol. 280, No. 18 .) that there is a  increasing number of people turning away from traditional  health care  treatment with  47.3 % increase in total visits to alternative health  practitioners. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative  Medicine also reports that more than 42% of Americans now use  alternative medicine practitioners to address their physical, mental and  emotional health and wellness concerns.

They  also showed that people turned to alternative medicine consultants  mostly because natural health care more closely mirrors their own  values, beliefs, and philosophical orientations toward life.

In a  Health Psychology Update – Vol 13 issue 3 July 2004. Titled, “The  psychology of complementary and alternative medicine.” Adrian Furnham  reported that the success of alternative health care was varied but  essentially boils down to more and more people are dismayed with  traditional health care systems and they are looking to become a more  active participant rather than a passive recipient. 

These  active participants also believe in a mind body connection and believe  that interventions at the psychological, social and spiritual level  are relevant and important as well as they want to learn how to take  better care of themselves with relevant information using holistic  principles and skills.

Seeking Answers From Above 

Seeking answers to the meaning of life and looking for spiritual union with God is as old as mankind itself.  Through  out time mankind has sought a deeper connection to spirit and meaning  and purpose. According to a summary of a public opinion poll findings by  the Hakomi Educational Resources Summary of Findings as follows: (2)

The  research found that an overwhelming number of Americans recognize the  close link between spiritual faith, religious values and mental health,  and would prefer to seek assistance from a mental health professional  who recognizes and can integrate spiritual values into the course of  treatment.  It also revealed:

  • 83 percent feel their spiritual faith and religious beliefs are closely tied to their state of mental and emotional health.
  • 75 percent of respondents say it is important to see a professional counselor who integrates their values and beliefs into the counseling process.
  • 69 percent believe it to be important to see a professional counselor who represents spiritual values and beliefs if they had a serious problem that required counseling.
  • 77 percent say it would be important for an elderly parent or relative who was in need of treatment to get assistance from a mental health professional who knew and understood their spiritual beliefs and values.
The  results are drawn from questions appended to a national political survey  of one thousand likely voters conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Research  from October 30-31, 2000. The margin of error is +/- 3.2 percent.  (2)

According to another spirituality poll by Parade (13) “The  number of Americans with faith in a spiritual being—nearly nine in  10—has not changed much over the past two decades, according to  historical polling. Seventy-eight percent said prayer was an important  part of daily life, an increase of 2 points since 1987.

 Eighty-five percent said  religion is “very important” or “fairly important” in their own lives—a  number that hasn’t changed much since 1992. Nearly half (48 percent)  described themselves as both “religious and spiritual,” while another 30  percent said they were “spiritual but not religious.” Only 9 percent  said they were neither religious nor spiritual.” (13)

Gerald De Sobe, PhD, past president of the American Association For Pastoral Therapist AAPC.  Stated  “It is interesting to note that not only is this a time of increased  emphasis on therapy, but also a time of increased interest in  spirituality,” “Combining these two areas in a person’s life in helpful  and healing ways is what pastoral counselors do.”(2) 

Unlike  traditional secular therapy, which does not allow praying or discussion  of the relevance of God and consideration of spiritual principles,  pastoral therapy encourages prayer and discussion of contemplation and  surrender to a higher power/intelligence/God or integration of Spiritual  values as a Loving Principle  which is understood by most as the Peace of God  that comes from surrendering to a power greater than themselves.  

 Pastoral therapy emphasis on spiritual principles has  become a valid form of therapy that helps individuals tap into their  spiritual nature as image and likeness of God to improve all aspects of  their life.  Pastoral therapy  also provides techniques for removing blocks and limitations to free the  individual to return to his/her to wholeness. 

Carl Jung was  quoted as saying “Among all my patients in the second half of life–that  is to say, over thirty five -there has not been one whose problem in  the last resort was not that of finding a religious (spiritual) outlook  on life. (3)

Jung was not  talking about religious rigid dogma or creeds or even seeking a church  membership. He was talking about understanding our essential nature, our  spiritual core greater than a limited view of ourselves in daily life.  He also defined psycho-neurosis as the suffering of a human  being who has not discovered what life is about in the broadest  perspective an what life means to him.  

Thomas More in his book “Care of the Soul” states that the  “complaints of our time” include; emptiness, meaninglessness, vague  depression, disillusionment about life including unfulfilling marriage,  relationships, and a loss of values are all symptoms of loss of Soul  (God/Spirit Connection) and lets us know what the Soul craves.  The  idea of being out of touch with our Soul is indicative of a need for  methods to help us find our way home to our spiritual center and  original nature. (7)

As the demand for spirituality and counseling becomes greater,  pastoral therapy has been increasingly more accepted and sought out as a  viable and relevant form of therapy not just for the religious but also  for the general masses.  (16)

How did Pastoral Therapy Get Started?

Through out time religious and ecclesiastic (spiritual) organizations, spiritual leaders have always provided some element of counseling as part of their caring for the followers.  Individuals, and families often came to their priests, ministers or rabbis to unburden themselves, sort through issues and seek the council of their religious tradition in personal matters, relational matters and ethical quandaries.

The field of pastoral psychotherapy has evolved from it’s humble roots focusing only on church doctrine and application to daily life along compassionate care for parishioners just being with them in their life experiences ie. Marriage, divorce, birth and death,

In today’s modern pastoral therapy a caring presence is still the hallmark and major difference from many secular professionals who emphases on diagnosis and cure doing something to someone with an expected result.  Pastoral Psychotherapy has built on the being present and using techniques to remove barriers and allowing an opening for the love of God to enter model.  Pastoral therapy has also integrated a mind, body spirit energy psychology approach with increasing sophistication leading to what is called today pastoral psychotherapy..

Today pastoral therapy, with its integrated spiritual and secular counseling approaches for healing mind, body and spirit, is a complex multifaceted blend of the latest theory and techniques from psychology, behavioral sciences, Neuroscience and quantum physics along with spiritual psychology, transpersonal psychology, theology and existential theism or Existential Meta Psychiatry.

Pastoral psychotherapy today offers state of the art techniques and principles for removing barriers to giving and receiving love and returning the individual to their original nature as a state of wholeness.

Pastoral Therapy Today.

Today pastoral therapy has become an effective, integrated mind,  body, spirit therapeutic approach, which combines the latest research  from evidenced, based behavioral sciences and quantum physics along with  the latest research from marriage therapy, spiritual psychology and  modern theology.  Pastoral  therapy has been shown to be successful in dealing with various  physical, emotional, mental, as well as the spiritual challenges facing  people today.  (8)


Education Requirements for Pastoral Counselors

Pastoral  counselors are trained mental health professionals that provide both  psychological therapy and spiritual guidance to individuals, couples,  families, and groups in various settings.   Pastoral  therapists offer support to the religious and non-religious alike.  Beyond the support or encouragement of a religious community, pastoral  therapists offer clients sound psychological techniques that perfectly  weave in an added spiritual dimension.

Due  to the nature of their counseling work, pastoral therapists must be  highly trained in both psychology and theology. Therefore, the following  are the education requirements:

Licensed Pastoral Therapists have the same education and background as Secular therapists. Certification helps ensure excellence and recognition of high standards. AAPC requirements for certification as a pastoral counselor include a comprehensive list of educational and professional criteria.

Most pastoral therapists obtain the same training and  Certification and licensing as licensed secular therapist with one  important addition.  Pastoral  therapists receive specialized training in theology and spiritual  psychotherapy from various religious and secular institutions and  certifying agencies.  The most well know is The American Association of Pastoral  Counselors (AAPC), which is one of the oldest and leading voices for  Pastoral Therapy. 

In other cases Pastoral Therapists receive certification from institutions of higher learning and religious training centers.  Pastoral  therapists like secular therapists also seek additional advanced  clinical and holistic training from various secular and non secular  training institutions. 

 Along with this  training, pastoral therapists like secular therapists receive additional  professional board certifications such as; Marriage Family Counseling,  Grief Counseling, Addictions Specialist, Health and Wellness Counseling,  Substance Abuse, Sexual Health, Christian Counseling, Biblical  Counseling, Holistic Energy Counseling as well as others.

While  the educational and licensure requirements may vary somewhat from state  to state (within the U.S.), the minimum educational requirements that  pastoral therapists are: 

As noted above, Pastoral therapists education and training is  similar to traditional therapists in that they also complete advance  degrees in the behavioral sciences with a emphasis on human development  and counseling theory completing a Masters, Ph.D. or Doctorate in a  related field or Divinity (D.Div.).  The  difference, however, is pastoral therapists in addition to specializing  in certain techniques; they also receive additional training in  Theology, Spiritual Psychology and Pastoral Sciences (Spiritual Healing)  

Qualifications for Certification and Licensure as a Pastoral Therapist

In  addition to satisfying the above education requirements, it is required  in most states for pastoral counselors to be licensed to practice. There  are only six states in the United States that actually license  individuals with the title of Licensed Pastoral Counselor (LPC), which  are Arkansas, Kentucky, Maine, New Hampshire, North Carolina, and  Tennessee. Since the other states still require pastoral counselors to  possess a valid license to practice in their borders, it is common for  pastoral counselors to gain licensure as a Marriage and Family Therapist  (LMFT) or a Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC). It is important to  note that pastoral counselors may need to complete supplemental  coursework to match the curriculum needed for these licenses, depending  on individual state requirements. 

Although  it is not required for practice in the majority of states, many  pastoral counselors receive professional recognition by obtaining  certification as a Certified Pastoral Counselor (CpastC) or Certified  Clinical Pastoral Therapist (CCPT) from the American Association of Pastoral Counselors.  For certification, counselors must have a master’s degree from an  accredited institution, a minimum of three years in ministry with an  active relationship to the local religious community, and at least 375  hours of pastoral counseling experience with 125 hours of supervision in  an AAPC-approved training program.

After  fulfilling all of the education and certification requirements,  pastoral counselors are prepared to provide personal or vocational  counseling sessions and/or advice in a religious context, help  individuals find direction in their crises of faith. There will be a  high demand for pastoral counselors to provide these services in  churches, hospitals, nursing homes, correctional facilities, community  centers, military bases, rehabilitation clinics, and individual  practices. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics,  the need for counselors is expected to grow much faster than average at  a rapid rate of 37 percent before 2020, meaning that it is an excellent  time for those interested in this gratifying profession to get started

As appealing as pastoral psychotherapy may be, there are still  questions that may need to be answered to address the needs of the  people.  There is also a need to clarify the different aspects of pastoral therapy and answer common concerns and questions. 

Founded  on the strong belief that God speaks to and guides people during their  challenges and dilemmas, pastoral counseling aims to help clients form a  deeper understanding of their religious beliefs to receive spiritual  awareness and direction on their journey through life.

The intention of this article is to help the consumer better  understand pastoral therapy as a valid choice for personal growth and  improved mental, physical, emotional, relational and spiritual health.  

Given the history of religion and religious counselors, people  may be confused and dubious or somewhat leery of any counseling that has  religion at its roots. It would be reasonable to assume that there to  general concerns and a need to answer common questions to give more  regarding the facets of pastoral therapy before one could commit to such  a process.  

Below is a discussion with questions and answers to common concerns regarding pastoral counseling and psychotherapy. 

Do Pastoral Therapists Have the Same Education and Training as Secular Therapists. 

Licensed Pastoral Therapists have the same education and background as Secular therapists. Certification helps ensure excellence and recognition of high standards. AAPC requirements for certification as a pastoral counselor include a comprehensive list of educational and professional criteria.

Most pastoral therapists obtain training and Certification and  licensing as licensed secular therapist with one important addition.  Pastoral  therapists receive specialized training in theology and spiritual  psychotherapy from various religious and secular institutions and  certifying agencies.  The most well know is The American Association of Pastoral  Counselors (AAPC), which is one of the oldest and leading voices for  Pastoral Therapy. 

In other cases Pastoral Therapists receive certification from institutions of higher learning and religious training centers.  Pastoral therapists like secular therapists also seek  additional advanced clinical and holistic training from various secular  and non secular training institutions. 

 Along with this  training, pastoral therapists like secular therapists receive additional  professional board certifications such as; Marriage Family Counseling,  Grief Counseling, Addictions Specialist, Health and Wellness Counseling,  Substance Abuse, Sexual Health, Christian Counseling, Biblical  Counseling, Holistic Energy Counseling as well as others.

While  the educational and licensure requirements may vary somewhat from state  to state (within the U.S.), the minimum educational requirements that  pastoral therapists  are: 

As noted above, Pastoral Therapists education and training is  similar to traditional therapists in that they also complete advance  degrees in the behavioral sciences with a emphasis on human development  and counseling theory completing a Masters, Ph.D. or Doctorate in a  related field or Divinity (D.Div.).  The  difference, however, is pastoral therapist in addition to specializing  in certain techniques; they also receive additional training in  Theology, Spiritual Psychology and Pastoral Sciences (Spiritual Healing)  

It should be noted, that in the U.S., most pastoral therapists  do get licensed but do not need a State License to practice, except in  six states. There are only six states in the United States that actually license individuals with the title of Licensed Pastoral Counselor (LPC), which are Arkansas, Kentucky, Maine, New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Tennessee.  (27)

Pastoral therapists may also obtain professional licensure from  an ecclesiastical licensing Institution such as the Pastoral Medical  Association, (PMA).   (5)

The  PMA is a self governing international, ecclesiastical (spiritually  based) assembly of health care practitioners. The main distinction of a  Ecclesiastic organization is separation of church and state.  This  status gives the PMA their own right to govern themselves without  government interference.   The PMA was also set up to take a stand  against the infringement of Government and dictates of State Licensing  Boards and to empower and protect all healers right to practice with  freedom from fear of persecution from the state. (5)

The  PMA  is a rapidly growing institute made up of all levels of Mental  Health and Health Care Workers which includes: Medical Doctors,  Chiropractors and Alternative Health Practitioners who wish to practice  with greater  security and ease without  fear of legal harassment and  intervention from any Court or Agency. (5)

 What Are Pastoral Therapists Approach to Treatment?

Pastoral counselors like secular counselors have many specialties and have various orientations toward health and Wholeness.  They  may also wish to differentiate themselves from “Christian counselors.”  Religious counselors who identify themselves as Christian counselors  tend to be conservative in theology. Potential problems arise for  confused prospective clients. 

If a non-religious person to a Christian counselor equates the  title “Christian counselor” with the title pastoral counselor, he or she  may be disappointed with the amount of biblical emphasis and unlikely  to choose to see another pastoral counselor, fearing an approach that is  more grounded in biblical precepts rather than empirical approaches can  not help them. 

Similarly, a highly conservative Christian may find his or her  expectations of Christian counseling are not met with a pastoral  counselor’s use of a theoretical behavioral psychology background. (29)  Although pastoral counselors are theologically trained and usually have  enough biblical training to frame the counseling in a biblical context  and can accommodate the conservative Christian.

Pastoral  counselors are more similar to secular therapists and counselors, in  that they vary in terms of their theoretical orientation but all theory  and techniques are grounded in science as well as spirituality. The  majority of pastoral therapist believe in God or a higher power being a  force of Love and Intelligence in the universe and will put all  techniques in this context to help the client discover a meaningful  relationship and connection to this Source or spirituality. 

In  other words, there isn’t one specific therapeutic approach or type of  counseling that’s used by all pastoral counselors but they will use all  their techniques to help the client find the peace of God.  

Pastoral Therapists Are First Spiritual Counselors over Religious counselors.

The  common element among pastoral counseling is that finding the Peace of  God or connection to their spirituality as peace, assurance, gratitude  and love (PAGL) would be central to their approach. 

Some  pastoral therapist may have a psychodynamic approach to therapy, while  others base their therapy on cognitive behavioral principles or a family  systems model.  Others may use an eclectic or integrated approach to  therapy, meaning they combine elements of two or more theoretical  approaches (eclectic) or tailor their approach (drawing from different  theories and methods) to fit the specific needs of each client  (integrated).  

Also,  some pastoral counselors may use specialized therapy methods such as  Energy Psychology, which includes techniques such as Emotional Freedom  Techniques, EFT, and Tapas Fleming Acupressure TAT, and META Health and  META Healing. They may also use EMDR (eye movement desensitization  reprocessing) or sand tray (or sandplay) therapy when warranted. (8)

Many  pastoral therapists are eclectic like myself in using two or more  approaches for healing and integrating the body, mind and spirit.  I personally draw upon Christian and Buddhist Principles and Energy Psychology techniques, Cognitive Therapy and META Health and Healing for Spiritual Transformation.  See my web site www.drtimothyryan.com/techniques.

 What is the difference Between Pastoral therapy and Traditional Secular Therapy.

The  Merriam Webster on line dictionary (2012) defines secular as “of or  related to the worldly; not overly or specifically religious.” Counselor  from the same source is defined as “a person who gives advice or  counseling” such as marriage counselor. 

Today’s’ pastoral therapists have in-depth graduate level training  in theology and psychology.  This enables them to address the psycho  spiritual issues, as well as the mental health issues, with which many  people struggle. This combination of blending spirit with science and  psychology also gives the pastoral therapist a unique qualification and  perspective that most secular counselors are lacking. (8)

In  many ways, pastoral counseling is very similar to traditional counseling  and secular approaches to psychotherapy.  However, there are several  things that set it apart and make it truly distinct in its own right.   These include:

 The vast majority of pastoral counselors believe in the Biblical God or some other higher / divine power.

 Spiritual  issues, faith, and personal beliefs play a prominent role in the  counseling process; pastoral counselors help you use your beliefs to  resolve and / or cope with the challenges in your life.  

Pastoral  counselors have a strong background in theology or a related field, and  are well-trained to handle issues related to faith and spirituality (8)

Pastoral counseling  differs from other forms of therapy and counseling in other significant  ways as well.  For example, it’s not uncommon for pastoral counselors to  encourage prayer and use it in the session in a therapeutic way  (depending on the client). They may also encourage clients to establish a  connection (or strengthen the one they have) with their own religion  and religious community.

In  a article discussing quantum mechanics and its role for restoring  religion, states that quantum mechanics reverses the Galilean and  Darwinian revolutions of that in a sense, removed us from being central  to the operation of the universe. We the observers, and like the  Heisenberg Principle in quantum physics, we create the universe.

Elevating each of us to an important position in the  cosmos is relevant to New Age and classic theologies that give the  individual a direct connection to God. QM may also provide a natural law  explanation for the anthropic principle, (embracing rather than  rejecting the present moment (human awareness and oneness with what it  observes) whereby the laws governing our universe are especially  suitable for the development of intelligent life.  

The following is a discussion of the two perspectives to help  consumers understand the subtle and not so subtle difference between a  traditional secular therapist and a pastoral therapist. 

Traditional Counseling and Psychotherapy:

Traditional secular therapists are license by the state and come under state legislators and  HIPPA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996).  

Traditional secular therapists also receive advanced education  and training in behavioral sciences with a emphasis on human development  and counseling theory completing a Masters Degree and Ph.D. along with  an internship and upon licensing are held to a very high code of ethics.  

Traditional secular therapists also receive additional training  in Diagnosis and treatment planning and a specialization such as  cognitive, emotional, behavioral, or psychodynamic, psychoanalytic  training with emphasis on a certain theory and technique of correcting  aspects of mal adjustment or mental health dysfunction.  The goal is a well adjusted individual.   

For example Cognitive Therapists would focus on a client’s  thinking particularly on cognitive distortions, which lead to suffering  and show the client a healthier more rational way to think about life  and life’s circumstances.   There  is nothing wrong with any form of traditional secular therapy and all  types of counseling are beneficial,. in that they are all intended for  the higher functioning of the individual or marriage relationship.  However even though the methods have merit, in increasing normalcy.   I’m not sure they all serve the highest good of a  person’s soul increasing his/her authenticity of an integrated of mind,  body and spirit along with greater connection to self, others and God.  Improving coping skills does not necessarily lead to wholeness of  Being and existential fulfillment or Peace of God.  

 Pastoral Counseling and Psychotherapy

Unlike traditional secular counseling, pastoral counseling has an emphasis on the whole person mind, body and spirit.  Geary’s  (29) definition which stated that pastoral counseling “… is informed  by spiritual values and is open to the possibility of exploring  spiritual and religious issues in the counseling relationship… and is  in conformity with current knowledge of psychology, spirituality,  healing and human development.” Gerkin  (as cited in   Yevenes, 2005, p. 60)

One  of the major differences between traditional counselors and pastoral  counselor is that traditional counselors are secular (worldly)  counselors in that they are licensed by the State.   Pastoral  counselors may obtain licensing with the state but are usually licensed  by the Church and/or any other number of religious organizations or  ecclesiastic (spiritual) organizations. 

Ecclesiastic  organizations such as the Pastoral Medical Association have their own  set of governing rules and regulations and client data is absolute  confidential and privileged.  It can never be court ordered to be given out. (5) 

It  should be noted that many pastoral therapist have sought and obtained  licensure with the state and are encourage to do so by their  professional organizations.  (10)

It becomes somewhat  cumbersome when a pastoral therapist obtains state licensure, because  state licensed therapists must abide by state regulations including  following insurance HIPPA rules of giving a diagnosis and treatment  protocols.  Pastoral therapist who are licensed by a National  ecclesiastic governing board are not under State Regulation or obligated  to follow state rules and regulations.  

Not having a state license is beneficial for several reasons.  A  major advantage for the pastoral therapist who doesn’t get a state  license is that he or she is free from court orders for records and  state requirements to diagnose or label their clients and risk giving  their clients the identity of the label itself.  

Having a state license  works for and against the pastoral therapist who do obtain one because  he or she must follow State legislation in protecting the consumer  rights but must also abide by Court subpoenas and give out information  to Insurance providers which have had several breaches of HIPPA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) violations request for client data. 

State licensed pastoral  therapist must also deal with the separation of state and church issue  in that, State Boards prohibit secular counselors from promoting the  idea of God, religion, or anything concerned with religion at the same  time honor their own ethical requirements to help the client gain the  highest perspective possible and honor their spiritual original nature. 

Most state licensed  secular counselors are ethically bound not to even mention anything of a  religious nature. They typically reframe from praying, do not ask God  for help, and do not to mention anything to do with religious at all.   

Pastoral counselors can get past some of these ethical issues in that they are staying within the scope of their training, which includes prayer, and relying on Holy Spirit for healing if the client is comfortable with these methods.

There is also the issue of confidentially.  Legally since traditional secular therapist are bound by the state and HIPPA  they usually deal with insurance companies and increasing risk of data breeches.

In  recent years I’ve noticed that confidentiality and privacy of records  has become an increasing concern for the helping profession. It appears  that the size of insurance companies and health care agencies have  become so great that transfer of data between different parties has  become an increasing problem because of the shear size of record  keeping.  Rostolsky (24)  told HealthITSecurity.com. “Breaches are a matter of ‘when’ and not ‘if’  … 

“That  being said, breaches happen. Even to entities that are very proactively  compliant. Making smart HR decisions will also be essential to data  breach prevention, especially in relation to insider breaches, Rostolsky  maintained.  He continue sayiing  “I’ve seen a lot of hacking incidents  in healthcare, more so now, and that’s concerning,” he said. “It’s  going to be difficult to always get in front of that..”  (24) 

Violations  became so bad that a supplemental act was passed in 2009 called The  Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH)  Act which supports the enforcement of HIPAA requirements by raising the  penalties of health organizations that violate HIPAA Privacy and  Security Rules. The HITECH Act was formed in response to health  technology development and increased use, storage and transmittal of  electronic health information. (24)

This is an ongoing problem with HIPAA.,  (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) so much so that it is impossible to give them all the required clinical data for insurance  forms that are continually passed around from one department to the next and insure that is kept from being compromised.

At face value, HIPPA allows for the release of records in response to a subpoena  without a clients consent or even their knowledge.  Insurance companies actually require therapist to give information regarding diagnosis, pathological symptoms and how many times patient has self destructive tendencies etc.  to qualify for insurance reimbursement.  HIPPA claims that it takes privacy very seriously and all information is legally protected and all patient information is confidential.  (26)

There  are also provisions to have your attorney file a motion to quash the  subpoena on protection of client-therapist privilege and the clients  privacy however the court will ultimately rule on the motion, settling  the question of whether the therapist must testify in person or on  camera or turn over records.  (26)  http://www.zurinstitute.com/subpoena.html – top

It  continually amazes me, however, how often-mental health clinicians are  forced to turn over their case notes when legal issues arises. Mental  health professionals even after talking to their attorneys will respond  to general subpoenas since they appear to be court orders, which must be  followed, or risk a contempt of court citation. However, although  subpoenas for records, deposition or trial testimony are “court orders”  or “writs of court” which should be complied with; (25) It should be noted that in most  states, it is considered illegal to turn over notes in that there are  usually provisions that take precedence, however that doesn’t stop it  from happening.  (26).   

Client  notes can be subpoenaed and if that doesn’t work the clinician is  subpoenaed to testify anytime by the Court deems it is necessary  especially when the clients are forced into signing a release.  

When  this often happens such as in custody battles, there is little a mental  health therapist can do when ordered to testify.  The Clinician along  with his notes are disposed and any all information is submitted as evidence, as records or documents, before a court or other deliberative body is mandatory or be in contempt of Court and face jail time.

Are  Pastoral Counseling Sessions and Discussions Confidential?

In contrast to state licensed therapist, all counseling sessions, notes, and discussion are privileged as sacred communication as between a minister and client. There is greater confidential with pastoral therapist who are not licensed by the state because they are not bound by subpoenas’. Exceptions to when confidentiality is not guaranteed include: reports or suspected reports of abuse of children, the elderly or the disabled; reports of suicidal and/or homicidal threats or gestures.

Signing the PMA Member Share Network Agreement Avoids all HIPPA  And Court Ordered Subpoena Problems

As mentioned earlier Ecclesiastic (spiritual) organizations because of their separation of church and state status have their own government bylaws.   Another benefit of the Pastoral Medical Association as a governing body is that it also has clients sign a “Member Share Network Agreement”  (MSA)

When signing the MSA,  the  client voluntarily opts out of the HIPPA Doctor Patient Relationship,  and avoids any problems resulting in the state and court having no  jurisdictions over PMA, the therapist or its membership.   Neither the therapist nor the government can exercise “power over” the ecclesiastic government body.  The second amendment guarantees the government shall have no power over the church. 

There  is no reporting to be done since there is no insurance carrier. The  Therapist operates on a member to member relationship, one member  helping another “power with” rather than a “power over”  There is no   Dr. Patient and Holy Spirit not the doctor is the authority over the  patient. The court does not have jurisdiction over you, the client or the case notes.  

The other  benefit is that there is complete and absolute confidentiality.   There  is no reporting to be done.  Consequently there can be no data  breaches.  The state and court system have nothing to do and can not get  access to any data held in confidence. The therapist and client signed  an agreement to become equals and there is only collaboration among the  two. 

In  this way, the sessions become a working partnership, “member to  member,” free from any outside reporting requirements or legislative  interference and control.  The PMA Member Share Agreement guarantees  under the constitution’s second amendment and articles of the PMA in  that all records and information between one members of an ecclesiastic  body helping another is the sole property of the PMA and held in the  strictest of confidence.   Your client notes can never be subpoenaed for any reason by anyone.  This provision keeps your notes absolutely  privileged and safe from any person, agency or court.

Are Pastoral Therapists Ministers as Well?

Yes.  Pastoral therapist are often ordained as part of their training.  As with any ordination process, the rights and responsibilities of an ordained person vary from church to church.  Since pastoral therapists answer to their respective  ecclesiastic organizations, they are free, when the client with the  client’s permission, to discuss the relevance of God and Holy Spirit as a  healing power, to pray with their clients, and apply spiritual  principles and values to daily life situations.  They are also able to Pray for their clients and ask God for help.

Since  pastoral therapists are also ordained ministers, they also have the  right to officiate weddings, funerals, hear confessions, pray in group  settings and clients and participate with their in certain spiritual  rites ie. weddings, funerals and baptisms.     

 It should be noted, however unlike ministers, pastoral therapists generally do not preach to their client.  It’s  also important to note, that if a client does not want to discuss  spirituality or go over their religion, a pastoral therapist will never  ask or pressure the client into doing so. 

Do Pastoral Counselors Preach or Try to Change Clients Religious  Beliefs

It  should be noted that the role of a pastoral counselor does not include  preaching, judging, shaming, blaming (e.g. “you’re suffering because of  sin in your life” or “God’s punishing you”), or pressuring their clients  to give up certain beliefs such as “pro life” or “freedom of choice” or  beliefs for or against a person’s sexual orientations. 

 Like  other mental health therapists and counselors, they are expected to  create a safe and caring environment for their clients; one that  includes genuine support, empathy, compassion, and sensitivity to their  clients’ needs and concerns. (8) 


Do I Have to Attend a Certain Church to Receive counseling?
Many pastoral therapists work with individuals of all faiths, and don’t attempt to impose their personal beliefs upon the clients who seek their services .  Most pastoral therapist including those at AIWP practice a non-denominational counseling ministry and are open to seeing people of all faiths or people who don’t have any particular faith.  Counselees do not need to attend a certain church or denomination to receive counseling.

Are Pastoral Counselors Licensed By the State?

Yes and No. Mandatory state licensure is required for pastoral therapist in a hand full of states, which include: Arkansas, Maine, Kentucky, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Tennessee require pastoral counselors to be state licensed.

Pastoral Counselors in other states may or may not seek state licensing.  Most  states have regulatory laws governing the practice of the practice of  psychology and traditional secular counseling and psychotherapy, however  current state legislators make it clear that it does not seek to limit the work of those acting under the legal auspices of a religious institution (i.e., are ordained by the church).  State licensure is optional for pastoral therapists.

Like traditional secular therapists pastoral therapists are required to  clearly identify their credentials and practice with the highest  ethical standards, maintaining the public’s trust and confidence.  Like  State licensed mental health workers, licensed and non-licensed  pastoral therapists seek additional Board Certifications and  speciali-zations to insure competency. 

Most pastoral therapists do obtain special board certifications and licensing because of ethical principles to be competent.


Do I Have Be A Certain Religion to See a Pastoral Therapist?

No. The person doesn’t have to be religious. In many cases most  individuals seeking pastoral therapy are not explicitly religious.  Whether the individual is interested in a spiritual perspective  or not, the Pastoral Therapist is committed to offering a safe, open,  non-judgmental, caring, understanding connection with empathy and  compassion to help clients reenergize their lives by connecting to their  True Selves.

While clients are not required to be a Christian or  certain  Faith to receive counseling through AIWP, they need to be fully aware  that the counseling techniques used are faith based.

To get the greatest benefit it is only necessary to be receptive  to spiritual ideas. Pastoral Therapist are mandated to be open to all  religions and creeds Pastoral Therapist treat all manner of symptoms and  challenges and they are very open to helping individuals find spiritual  meaning and purpose.

Does the Person Have To Be The Same Religion as the Pastoral Therapist?

No.  It is not necessary for the client to be of the same religion as the Pastoral Therapist.   Pastoral Therapists are trained to respect all religious  faiths and hold the individual’s personal faith as sacred as their own. 

The American Association of Pastoral Counselors  (AAPC  ) Code of Ethics states that pastoral counselors “… show sensitive  regard for the moral, social, and religious values and beliefs of  clients and communities. We avoid imposing our beliefs on others,  although we may express them when appropriate in the pastoral counseling  process” Principle III.

Having  someone who shares you particular faith however isn’t mandatory or  necessary; It is mandatory for the pastoral therapist to do everything  in his/her power to help you be safe and free to express your feelings  regarding your faith as well as any needs you may be aware of.  It  also comes down to a matter of personal preference and comfort level  and something to keep in mind when selecting a counselor.  

Licensed  Pastoral Therapists are commissioned by their creed to encourage,  honor, and support an individual’s right to connect with and deepen his  or her preferences for faith. Whatever your faith, the pastoral  therapist will support you in it.  

 As  a general rule, certified pastoral counselors are trained to respect  the faith and beliefs of each individual client, whether they’re the  same or completely different than their own.   Their goal isn’t to convert you to their faith or religious viewpoint; rather, it’s to help you within the context of your faith, belief system, and spiritual values.

In most cases, after seeing a pastoral therapist, individuals of  faith report they have a stronger, more meaningful connection to their  own faith and that their faith has become more valued in guiding them,  whether the sessions focused on issues of faith or not. 

 What Is the Spiritual Practice of Pastoral Therapists?

Dr Jack Finnergan (7) shares that we all yearn for a  transforming connection with the Divine and pastoral therapy is a way to  help us find it. 

Pastoral Therapists like Traditional Therapists help individuals  adjust and improve coping skills to better meet needs, however, their  ultimate goal is not simply to help the client adjust to societal norms,  but to help the client find peace with God or spiritual union. 

Pastoral therapist use evidenced based spiritual methods of  prayer, meditation, contemplation, existential inquiry, energy  psychology, spiritual principles and intuition and creativity to find  out what works best with the client to secure a spiritual practice that  works for the highest good of the client. 

Pastoral therapy, also use evidence based mental health  principles and sound spiritual practices and principles to support the  clients spiritual practice. Ultimately any method that allows connection  with the Divine is useful to the pastoral therapist in supporting the  client’s spiritual practice.  

What is the Difference between Religious Practice and Spiritual Practice?

Rose et al. (2008)  explicated their understanding of distinction between Religiosity and  spirituality. “Religiosity denotes allegiance to the beliefs and  practices of institutional, organized religion, whereas spirituality  indicates beliefs, experiences, and practices involving the individual’s  relationship with a higher being or the universe” (p. 18.) (29)

All religious faiths strive to return man to his original spiritual nature.  Spirituality  is a part of religion and religion attempts to promote a structure of  rituals and behaviors, resulting in a path to realize God or spiritual  reality. Spiritual Practice is not always the same as religious practice.  (7) Spiritual understanding is not the same as believing in something  or blind faith to legal dogma and religious creeds.  (9 )

Many  dysfunctional religions over the world and in the U.S. however, believe  that the only way to control mankind’s inherently “evil”and “sinful”  nature is through fear, guilt and punishment, and/or group censure if  church creeds are not kept.

 They emphasize “shoulds” and “have to” and “thou shall not” rather than the “First Commandment” And thou shall  love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.


The belief in using fear, guilt, shame and punishment actually impedes and or totally  blocks spiritual development.  Inducing fear and guilt and punishment also goes against the biblical teaching, God is Love, First John:4:8t and perfect love casts out fear.  First John:4:18. Using fear to uphold church doctrine is the antithesis of believing in God. 

The projection of mans ego on God and use it to dominate, mosques, synagogues,  as  well as congregations and parishes through fear of punishment promoting  guilt and shame has resulted in extremism and violence through out the  world and actually blocks spiritual development.  

Spiritual practices offered by modern pastoral therapists seeks  to help the client cultivate a spiritual consciousness which is free of  fear, guilt shame and punishment and judgments of any kind.  “judge not less ye be Judged” Matt 7:1  Any  spiritual practice seeks to cultivate “Fruits of the Spirit” – Peace,  Assurance, Gratitude and Love (PAGL) and uses PAGL to test the merits of  any practice or belief system. 

Modern pastoral therapy  supports the client to connect with Holy Spirit and the Peace of God  within themselves rather than subscribing to any outside authority or  organized system of thought. 

 Pastoral Therapists help clients follow the biblical admonition “ And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” This is a higher authority than anything man could come up with including religion.

Pastoral Therapists are more interested in helping clients find  the “good life” beyond material gain or “Fruits of the Spirit” (peace  assurance, gratitude and love) or PAGL as described by Thomas Hora, M.D.  in his book Existential Metapsyhiatry (9) as an acronym for optimum  mental health.  

Thomas Moore (7), in describing the care of the Soul states that  “It isn’t about curing, fixing, changing, adjusting or making healthy,  and it isn’t about some idea of perfection or even improvement.  It doesn’t look to the future for an ideal, trouble-free existence.  Rather,  it remains patiently in the present, close to life as it presents  itself day by day, and yet at the same time mindful of religion and  spirituality.”  

According to Thomas Moore,(7) “A spiritual life is absolutely  necessary for psychological health but not ungrounded spirituality.”   The highest spiritual practice according to Thomas Moore is  a practice of humility contemplation grounded (non obsessive) soulful  living, dealing with every day problems,  without striving for everyday perfection or salvation. 

Problems seen in this light are not so much “solved” but  “dissolved.” (9) Clients abandoned their ideas about how to live  successfully and properly and begin to seek greater understanding how to  live in peace, assurance, gratitude and love in perfect peace and  harmony with all of life. (8)

This process of spiritual discovery transforms the client’s entire outlook on life.  Pastoral  Therapists help clients step back and look at the whole of their lives  and from a spiritual context and thus discover the existential meaning  of their problems and where their greatest healing is needed. 

The Pastoral Therapist will also pray for his clients to see  them as God sees them. This “Prayer of Beholding” (9) helps the client  let go of false images of him/her self and move toward a more  integrative view themselves as perfect even with their imperfections and  enables the them to connect to the deepest parts of themselves and also  be connected to the perfection of life by learning to look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen … 2 Corinthians 4:18.  

Mankind is continually preoccupied with  insolvable problems (it’s the nature of ego) to “want what it can’t  have” and to “not want it does have.”

 Dr. Jack Finnergan (7) also goes on to cite Professor Jordan saying  “mistaken beliefs about oneself, others  and the? world may result from participation in an implicit theological  drama derived from ?family history and erroneously supported by  religious institutions.”

Pastoral Therapists are in a unique position to help clients  look at false images they have made of God distorted from childhood  decisions and images of authority figures.  

For many their unconscious image of God and authority is directly rooted in their childhood view of authority figures.  If a client’s authority figures were rigid, stern,  punitive they unconsciously identify in a “one up” “one down” world and  unwittingly extend this image by projecting it on others and God  becoming increasingly fearful and resentful becoming a source of great  turmoil.  

Pastoral Therapists are in a unique position to help the client  look at the differences between his childhood experiences and  interpretations and align them with a more valid and loving view of a  higher power or compassionate God.  

Pastoral  therapists are also in a position to help the client look at his  patterns and beliefs from the broadest perspective and note consequences  of his thoughts and actions. I was working with a man once who  complained he had miserable life because of his wife, no sooner than he  started to look at his views, he had left his wife and came to the  session and began complaining about how miserable his life was without  her and she wouldn’t take him back.  His issue was not his wife but his lack of self-understanding and acceptance or Soul care (spiritual connection).  

His soul was crying out for something that would fulfill him and he believed his wife was the problem and solution.  If  anyone looks closely at their life they may notice that what ever they  have longed for that once they got it they were not happy with it.  Our Soul can not be satisfied with people, places and things alone.  We must have a deeper connection to Self, Source, Love, God, and Wisdom  along with Knowing the Truth Within us. (7) 

People are afraid that  if they challenge their thoughts and look at their moralistic attitude  (“shoulds” and “should not’s”) Sometime a deviation is a way to discover  a deeper spiritual truth or aspect of our soul. (7) 

 I heard two stories which depict this point. 

two brother monks were taking a hike in silence, each of them had taken several vows including a vow of silence and chastity.   While  walking, the brothers came upon a knee deep stream and there was a young  woman standing at the edge of the stream unable to cross stream because of not  wanting to ruin her new dress.  

When the brothers pause  came to the edge of the stream, each of them paused while she looked at each one of them and asked if one of them would be so kind as to carry her across the stream so she would not ruin her dress.  The  one brother squatted down and the girl climbed onto his shoulders .  He carried her across the stream  without a word and put her down on the other side without  saying a word.  

The two brothers continued on the path but after about ten minutes the other brother threw up his hands and said “Brother, I have to break my vow of silence.”  I can’t believe you carried that woman across the stream,  you know we took a vow of chastity.  How could you let her touch you!  My dear brother, the other brother replied, “I put her down at the other side of the stream.  Are you still carrying her?

The Bible tells us in Proverbs 4:23: “Guard your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life. … This verse  is saying that we need to be alert to our actions, thoughts and  feelings and pay attention to what we value as well for it will  determine our fate. 

The Bible also quotes King Solomon:”As a man thinketh in his heart so is he,”  to  help us not only embraces the wholeness of man but by contemplating it  can give insight and clarity to every condition and circumstance of his  life.  

There are spiritual Truths in every religion and all in alignment with the highest Truth such as the Buddhist text,  with the aphorism from The Dhammapada, which states: ‘We  are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts depicting  the importance of paying attention to our thoughts and how our mind is as important as our actions because if you think something you are actually living it. 

Pastoral therapist are  more concerned with a spiritual understanding of how the mind works  rather than “Thou shall nots” and “shoulds and have to’s”  for right conduct.  

There is another story that demonstrates the importance of mental thought over behavior.  The story again is about two adult brothers.  It was Sunday and they both were preparing to go to church.  One of the brothers said I can’t go to church he said, “my mind and body are too lust full.” 

The other brother was horrified and said “shame on you” you better stop that or you will go to hell for sure.”  The first brother said  “it’s no good I can’t fight it any longer.”  So the first brother went to the whorehouse and the second brother went to church.  

A remarkable thing  happened. Once the lustful brother surrendered to his cravings and  turned himself and his passions over to God, his cravens ceased.   He was just about to enter through the door of the  whorehouse, to act out his carnal passions, when his heart welled up  with tears of remorse and tenderness and grace.  

He heard the voice of  God calling him and could feel God’s deep abiding unconditional love,  acceptance. He suddenly saw himself from God’s point of view and felt  compassion and forgiveness for his human condition. He immediately  turned around and left singing hymns all the way home.  

It seemed once he  stopped judging himself and accepted himself while becoming mindful of  God, his attention shifted from wanting and not wanting to the love of  God and he was healed.  In that moment, he was released from his carnal cravings and  he receive the grace of God as a angel of compassion and forgiveness.  

Now the other brother  who went to church however is a different story, he sat in the pew  thinking angry, prideful thoughts how he was more pious and how sinful  his brother however underneath he was secretly envying his brother was  thinking his brother got away with something and filled his imagination  with what his brother must be doing.  He  eventually came home complaining he was filled with lust and guilt and  raged at his brother “I got nothing from the service today because of  you.” I’m so disgusted with you, how could you.”  

The fist brother filled with the Peace of God and did not defend or attack his brother in return.  He  simply became very present with his brother and saw that it was not his  brother but the human condition that was suffering and replied “I’m so  very sorry you had to battle all this on your on and couldn’t turn it  over to God.

 “You’re my brother and I love you.” “What can I  do to help you?”  The second brother began crying, not so much because of  what his brother said but he was so touched by his brother’s presences and he could feel his brothers love. 

 Now it’s interesting to note one brother did the right  thing by going to church, he follow his “should” the other brother  choose to surrender himself to the moment and not judge himself but  surrender himself to the process and to the love of God and ultimately  came through to receive healing through the grace of God.  

This story is in line with the homeopathic principle to go with what is rather than against it.  To find grace in acceptance  of what is rather than fighting it and creating more conflict and acting out.  The  practice of contemplation “being with without acting out” allows us to  dissipate the experience and helps us to shift our perception from  splitting into good/bad right wrong, hoc poc, and 9 short boys  struggling with their mental morality polarities and leads us besides  still waters to simply being still and mindful of God’s Love and Peace. 

By surrendering to the  moment and not fighting with himself the lustful brother found grace,  forgiveness and compassionate self-acceptance.  And  was not only able to heal himself of his lustful cravings but found a  deeper humanity and understanding of the human condition.  He was through his own healing able to show caring and  extend the grace and compassion of God to his brother which allowed a  healing for his brother as well

Another example in not  going into battle with self judgments and taking care for our soul is  simply be present to our thoughts during the day.   If we tell ourselves we have a dead end job going no  where and we should leave, we put disconnect to the reality of what is  “we should leave but in reality we are still here.”  

The practice of presence  and caring for our soul is to not so much accept the joy or situation  but accept where we are in this moment without beating ourselves up.  In  this spiritual practice of accepting ourselves in the moment, we learn  to give up hating ourselves for being ____ etc and simply surrender  ourselves and our problems to God.  In  this way we stop splitting ourselves off from reality “what is” and use  the problem as a teaching device (way to see discover perfection in the  moment).  

By doing this, we awaken ourselves to the idea of the job becoming a teaching device and opening up all kinds of possibilities.  It  could be as simple as being in the present moment, we become aware that  the job is an opportunity to learn how to love ourselves more and  practice giving up “should thoughts.” 

We suddenly notice we do  things more consciously and intentionally. We actually feel joy for no  reason by do little things such as meeting a need for order and begin  organizing some files at our desk, or experiencing the pleasure of  adding something beautiful to the entryway of our office.  

We may also become aware  of the need of others and appreciate the opportunity to show caring for  someone or discover a creative way to show caring for us.  Paying  extra attention to the way we dress or doing something for ourselves  that show we love ourselves. Being in the moment and discovering ways to  nurture and appreciate ourselves for doing so becomes a doorways to  practice caring for our soul. (7)   

Often caring for the  soul, according to Thomas Moore (7) is not taking sides when there is  conflict within us but fully appreciating both parts as expressions of a  deeper part of ourselves seeking wholeness. We transcend the duality of  like and witness ourselves to discover the deeper lesson. (7) 

Thomas Hora, M.D. P.C., winner of the Karen Horney Award for outstanding innovations in Psychiatry, proposed “All Problems are Psychological and all Solutions are Spiritual” He also promoted the spiritual practice of contemplation using spiritual principles as koans interrupting habitual consciousness and awakening us to our deeper spiritual nature.

In Thomas Hora’s text Dialogues in Existential Metapsychiatry, he  explained that all suffering was the result of our ego identification  and ego gratification to fix ourselves (make ourselves  better)  misunderstanding of our original nature, identity and purpose.

Dr Hora also proposed a system of education and healing with Eleven Principles” as parameters for mental health and spiritual progress.  They include the following:

1.  Thou shalt have no other interests before the
good of God which is spiritual blessedness.

2.  Take No Thought for what should be or should not
be; seek ye first the Good of God which already is.

3.  There is no interaction anywhere, there is
only omniaction everywhere.

4.  Yes is good, but no is also good.

5.  God helps those who Let Him.

6.  If you know what, you know how.

7.  Nothing comes into experience uninvited.

8.  Problems are lessons designed for our edification.

9.  Reality cannot be experienced or imagined;
it can, however, be realized.

10.  The understanding of what really is,
abolishes all that seems to be.

11.  Do not show your pearls to unreceptive minds,
for they will demean them.

Dr. Thomas Hora, M.D. P.C.
New York Institute of Metapsychiatry

The eighth principle of Meta Psychiatry is important in that it  follows Thomas Moores practice of being with and learning from our  problems rather that trying to get rid of them. (7)  

The eighth principle of MetaPsychiatry states that “Problems are lessons designed for our edification “  which sees problems  not as something to be avoided and run from but reflected on to discover  their spiritual meaning behind them and seek guidance to reorient  ourselves.

Upon inquiry into oneself and the nature of self as well as our  problems, we would gain insight and our essential nature would be  revealed to us. Meta Psychiatry therapy continues to be used by the  pastoral therapists and secular therapist alike to address the ills of  mankind. (9)

Pastoral therapists support clients to see their problems  from a different perspective “Right Seeing” (9) Right seeing is that  ability to see life from God’s eyes that is see life as good including  seeing themselves as perfect, whole and complete spiritual beings with  the love of God as their ultimate source.  Practicing spiritual mindfulness “Right Seeing” ultimately enables clients to know the meaning of the pharse “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free” John 8:32

Pastoral therapists will continually encourage the client to  engage on a spiritual discovery to know his /her own Truth not to simply  believe anything because it is preached but know it by existential  discovery.

It is from this  perspective and unique position that Pastoral Therapy can not only to  uplift humanity transform humanity by teaching clients to remember their  original nature and return and embrace their human condition with  forgiveness, compassion and love.  The ultimate goal of pastoral therapy is to spiritualize the mental climate of the world, to heal the world of its ignorance.  (9) 

Clients do not have to be perfect in this only have a receptivity to know the perfection of God.  Over  time, clients come to know themselves on the deepest level as precious  and holy children of God assured that their needs matter and that they  can count on the love of God to meet their needs.  

With sufficient  awareness, contemplation and practice the client becomes integrated with  his spiritual values and becomes a beneficial presence to the world  able to extend spiritual values to the world by simply being present to  others and seeing them in their spiritual reality as an integrated  precious part of the whole of life. 

What are the Cost Comparisons Between Secular Therapy and Pastoral Therapy?

Licensed and commissioned Pastoral Counselors are fully  recognized by the state and church and can carry out all of the duties  of a counselor; including but not limited to, obtaining liability  insurance and charging a fee. Pastoral  counselors normally charge a standard fee for services; however, the  AAPC considers pastoral counseling to be ministry in nature, so efforts  are made to provide service to those who cannot afford it.

Fees vary depending on training, education and experience,  however normally fees for Pastoral Therapy are commensurate or lower  than those of a Traditional Therapist. (average cost for fifty minutes  of therapy is  $90.00 – $120.00 per session.)

When pastoral counselors work through a non-profit counseling ministry, reduced or sliding scale fees are usually available based on need

Finding a Certified and or Licensed Pastoral Counselor

If you’re interested in working with a certified pastoral therapist there are several ways you can go about finding one in your area.  You can search online for pastoral counseling followed by [your city].  The listings that appear should give you a good starting point.  You can contact a local church or seminary (if there’s one in your area) and they can recommend certified pastoral counselors in the area.  You may also consider contacting the Pastoral Medical Association Directory (6).  You can also ask other professionals to see if they can give you a few names of pastoral counselors in your city.

Does A Pastoral therapist ever refer clients to other services?
Yes.  Not every counselor is able to help every person. When necessary, pastoral therapist follow the same ethical standards as secular therapist to do no harm and practice within the scope of their profession.  Pastoral therapists will refer counselees to other counselors/therapists in the area. Pastoral therapists also may recommend that counselees see their physician, attorney or other professionals depending on their unique situation or circumstance.

Things to Know Before Starting Therapy with a Pastoral Therapist 

Before  starting counseling with a pastoral counselor (or any therapist or  counselor), be sure to do your due diligence.  It’s important to find  someone who has the proper training; certification and licensure to  offer the type of counseling you are seeking. 

It’s  also a good idea to ask about the person’s counseling experience in  general, as well as his or her training experience, expectations and  goals working with a client.   If you have a particular disorder or health condition, ask the therapist  if  he or she has had experience working with individuals with a similar  issues or disorders (e.g. PTSD, an addiction, or sexual orientation  issues) as yours. 

In addition, some things to keep in mind are:

Traditional secular therapists hold power by knowledge of their training. They provide the expert advice to help the client  solve their problems.

Most pastoral therapists surrender power to Inner wisdom guided by Holy  Spirit and consider themselves equal to the  client. Both share power by being  connected to Spirit and the word of God. 

Many pastoral therapists believe in a co-creative synergy and practice a  “shared power with their clients” model.  They    believe we all have access to  inner wisdom and Spiritual Truth once the barriers to love are removed.

Many pastoral therapists believe everyone has equal access to inner wisdom –  all minds are joined with God’s Mind and we are all very holy and equal in God’s  eyes.  There is no hierarchy or inequality between counselor and client. Equals  should  not be in awe of one another. 

Traditional  Therapist typically works on stengthening a client’s ego coping skills  by helping them develop resources to     remove obstacles in the way of  their success. Many pastoral therapists see therapy a preparing process  to surrender one’s ego and cultivate one’s spiritual faculties of  discernment seeing problems as opportunities for enlightenment. They  teach clients contemplation and the art of listening to their symptoms  rather than trying to get rid of them, Sessions are   concerned with the  ultimate Truth of one’s life and living in spiritual reality.                                                                      

Conclusion: Pastoral Therapy Today                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

Pastoral therapy has a long history and could be said that it is as old as religion itself.  Because  religious history has a dark side of being rigid and judgmental as well  as putative, it is understandable the people may feel uncomfortable and  even skeptical of trusting any profession that that has the word  “pastor” in it.   

Pastoral therapy has evolved over the years from its humble  beginnings of pastors setting aside time to counsel, explaining bible  verses and pastoral care where compassionate non ordained people would  often to be available to comfort people in times of crisis to a focused  form of mental health therapy.                                                                                                                                                                                                       In  the general public’s mind, pastoral counseling is a term that has been  loosely use and can have often be confusing and have different meanings  depending on the person’s back ground and viewpoint. 

 Some people may think of pastoral counseling as spiritual counseling.  Others who are more evangelical may see pastoral counseling as Biblical guidance; more commonly known as Christian counseling while others seek pastoral therapy because of it’s holistic integrative mind, body spirit viewpoint .

The  perception of a pastoral counselor /Christian counselor to the general  evangelical conservative population is counseling offered by the pastor  or other ordained member of a church who will extend the teachings of  the church. Christian counseling is often promoted to be biblically  based to reassure parishioners and to help members of the congregation  protect their views on anti-abortion, homosexuality as a sin etc.  however, it’s important to note this is not today’s modern pastoral  therapy. 

Most pastoral therapist have a much broader view point and see their counseling beyond that of religious  “dos  and don’ts” The idea of God has been expanded also to embody “One God,  many paths” approach to helping the client affirm their own path as a  meaningful approach to understanding God.  Since  pastoral counselors have an ethical responsibility not to preach, they  must work with the client to explore the client’s own view of  spirituality and discover spiritual values to define God in the client’s  own terms.  

 Pastoral therapy goes way beyond the confines of dogma and legalism.  Modern pastoral therapists are very open to all religious beliefs and faiths or creeds.  They  do not preach or pressure the client to take on any beliefs or dogma of  the bible. Pastoral therapists are non-judgmental and non- dogma  oriented. They seek only to be helpful for the client especially during  times of crisis or uncertainty. (8) 

 It  is only recently that the general public has come to know pastoral  therapy in its truest sense a mind, body spirit psychotherapy based on  the latest techniques from multiple evidenced based therapeutic  disciplines including quantum physics. 

Today,  pastoral therapy is more a specialized form of psychotherapy or  counseling usually offered by a licensed mental health professionals who  have been formally trained in psychology, behavioral sciences, as well  as theology and pastoral counseling  (which is the primary focus of this article).  (8)

According  to the Bureau of Labor Statics (16) “Pastoral counselors combine  theology and psychotherapy to help individuals cope with mental health  problems as well as providing relationship and career advice. Counselors  may serve as a specialized resource for churches, communities and  hospitals.

 Depending on state requirements, they can be licensed as  state secular counselors, pastoral counselors or as marriage and family  therapists. A pastoral counselor, like other types of mental health  therapists, must hold a master’s or doctoral degree in their field of  study.”  (16) 

In  addition to their training in psychology or a related field, these  professional counselors have in-depth graduate level training in  theology and religion.  This enables them to address the  psycho-spiritual issues, as well as the mental health issues, with which  many people struggle.  (8)

The extensive training of pastoral therapist  also gives them a unique qualification and perspective that most secular counselors and therapists lack. (8)

With  all our achievement in technology and science, we have not become  happier, healthier, or more fulfilled. (7) We suffer from increasing  anxieties and depression over what we don’t have and want ie. (job,  money, relationship right this or that) or what we do have and don’t  want.

People now are interested more than ever before in spiritual values an their application into daily living.  Now  pastoral therapist can bridged the gap. People can now go to a pastoral  counselor to answer both secular and spiritual concerns. (2)

Pastoral therapists offer a middle ground where people can get  support to talk about any concerns especially their anxiety and  depression due from isolation and hopelessness.

People who go to a pastoral therapist can also get help on  learning how spiritual practices can be as a valid method for overcoming  much of the isolation and growing alienation underlying many of the  mental health issues. 

Pastoral therapist offer the public advanced skills which  integrates the behavioral science with spiritual Psychology and  theology, and practical applications from mystical sages and quantum  physics if the person is interested. (2)

The belief of most newly trained pastoral therapist today is that religion cannot afford to be without rigors of science.  More surprisingly, science needs religion to expose its  pretensions to absolute authority and help it appreciate the wonder, the  beauty of nature, mystery of paradox, and awe of life itself, which can  also be a unique and unequivocal truth in itself. (22)

With the increasing rise of mental health concerns (15) and  increasing interest /need for spiritual understanding, (11) along with  the increasing relevance of quantum science in bridging religion and  science, (22) Pastoral psychotherapy has grown to become a viable form  of counseling and psychotherapy not only for the religious and  spiritually minded but also to the non religious and non spiritual  minded people alike. 

Today Pastoral Counseling (short term more  situational) and Pastoral Psychotherapy (longer term more in depth) has  become a major provider of mental health services in this country,  accounting for over 3 million hours of treatment annually in both  institutional and private settings. It is offered throughout the United  States specializing in individual, group, marital, and family therapy.  (2) 

In general pastoral therapists generally refers to a specialized form of psychotherapy or counseling offered by licensed practitioners who have been formally trained in clinical psychotherapy and behavioral sciences as well as pastoral counseling and theology or a related field. (8)

Today pastoral therapy has evolved into a holistic, integrated  sophisticated science and religious spiritual practice providing  meaningful answers to mankind’s current physical, mental, emotional,  relational and spiritual challenges. 

Pastoral therapy and traditional secular therapy both provide valuable resources for the public benefit.  With  increasing interest and demand for faith based therapy, pastoral  therapy can not only help client find their way in the world of physical  form but also gain appreciation of the formless or spiritual reality. 

Pastoral therapists have helped millions of people work through difficult life circumstances, emotional pain, challenging psychological issues and spiritual struggles.

Pastoral  Psychotherapy’s greatest benefit to individuals is helping them find  greater meaning and purpose by teaching them to care for their soul to  achieve a fast tract to peace and well-being.

Pastoral therapy offers a process of awakening resulting in a  life free of anxiety, guilt and shame and living in the moment  discovering ways to care for one’s soul.  

Pastoral  therapy accepts all faiths and works with people on all levels and  circumstances however it is ideal for clients seeking to better connect  to discover greater spiritual meaning, purpose and transformation.

 Pastoral  therapy encourages client receptivity and helps them go beyond the  human conditioning to discover soul – solutions and soul care rather  than simply having blind allegiance to the world and even to religion.  Pastoral  therapy also helps clients develop presence to better understand their  problems rather than trying to fix them or get rid of them.  Pastoral therapist believe that problems are our greatest teachers. 

Pastoral therapists strive to provide a much-needed alternative to purely secular knowledge void of spirituality or heavily biased religious counseling structured around rigid dogma and legalistic interpretations of the Bible. (8)

 Healing one’s soul is more about restoration and fulfillment in discovering one’s original nature.  Pastoral  therapists help clients discover the fruits of the spirit or PAGL.  Client learn to see themselves as God sees them or see themselves as an  image and likeness of God.  In this way problems on the human level are dissolved. 

 All  therapeutic modalities, orientations and techniques are beneficial to a  point and have at their core a desire to uplift humanity and help  people. ?The field of mental health counseling, pastoral counseling, and  even religion and spiritual counseling have continually improved and  evolved to meet the ever increasing needs of the general public 

 Pastoral  therapy, however unlike Traditional secular therapy, seeks healing on  all levels integrating the body, mind, and is free to use spiritual  techniques such as prayer, forgiveness exercises, and META Healing to  remove blocks to a client’s original spiritual connection to wholeness. 

 Pastoral  Therapists also offers a unique perspective for any individual or  couple to discover a broader perspective and understanding of their  problems in the context of Spiritual Reality.

More and more people are choosing pastoral therapy because it  not only helps people to improve their situations but also it helps  people improve their outlook on life by helping them see themselves and  their life from a different perspective. (15) 

Unlike a  Traditional secular therapists, pastoral therapists are free to help the  client become aware of the power of the unseen dimension of life as a  healing force, releasing clients  from limitation and bondage. 

The pastoral therapist helps the client with all manner of challenges but ultimately wants to  elicits the clients  awakening to the power of his own soul care and spiritual connection.  This  awakening to ones soul care eventually inspires one’s increase ability  to give and receive love through forgiveness, prayer, and confession and  awakening us to spiritual resources. 

If you prefer a  more holistic approach with a spiritual perspective that integrates  mind, body and spirit and uses techniques from psychology, theology, and  spirituality, then pastoral, you may want to consider pastoral therapy  is not only a way to dissolve problems but to grow personally and  spiritually. 

You can seek out a pastoral therapist by asking friends, your church, searching  on the internet and going to the PMA.org  web site  http://www.pmadirectory.us/ (5)

Dr Timothy J Ryan, Ph.D. D.Div. is a Certified Pastoral Counselor Practitioner and licensed Pastoral Therapist.

Dr Ryan copy

 Since 1994, Dr Ryan has been the founder and director of The Association for Integration of the Whole Person, Miracles Ministry a 501 (c) (3) non-profit non-sectarian religious organization which  was founded to remove barriers to love, heal and enrich relationships and promote conscious and intentional living for a more compassionate world.  He has been in practice for over thirty years in Newport Beach CA. and Bonsall CA.

He has a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology and Divinity. He holds Fellow Status and is also a Board Certified Professional Counselor and Relationship Expert at the American Psychotherapy Association. He practices as an intuitive Mind, Body, Spirit therapist and licensed pastoral therapist.  He holds Board Certifications as a Holistic Healer and Pastoral Medical Science.  He Holds Fellow status at the American Psychotherapy Association and Board Certifications and Diplomate Status at many other Professional Associations including The American Association for Integrative Medicine and The Pastoral Medical Association as well as others. He is a Board Certified Energy Healer, META Health and META Healing Practitioner, Hypnosis Instructor, Relationship Expert, and N.L.P. Trainer.


All resources retrieved at the following links on January 28th 2016

1.     U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics 2014    http://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/mental-health-counselors-and-marriage-and-family-therapists.

2.   www.gregjohanson.net/pastoralcounseling.html Pastoral Counseling Today Gaining Momentum http://aapc.org

3.   Existential Metapsychiatry: Thomas Hora MD … – Amazon.com

4.  Romans 12:2King James Version (KJV) King James Version (KJV) by Public Domain

5.   http://www.pmai.us/ PMA Directory http://www.pmadirectory.us/

6.  Dr Jack Finnergan “Pastoral Counseling and Psychotherapy: Personal Refelections. Inside Out issue 34: Autumn 2998   http://iahip.org/inside-out/issue-34-autumn-1998/pastoral-counselling-and-psychotherapy%E2%80%A8personal-reflection

7.  Thomas Moore “Care of the Soul” Amazon.com Care of the Soul : A Guide for Cultivating Depth and …

8.  Pastoral Counseling and Psychotherapy https://www.addiction.com/a-z/pastoral-counseling-and-psychotherapy/

9.  Thomas Hora, M.D. http://www.themetaway.com/metabooks.html

10.  http://www.aapc.org

11.  http://mudmosh.com/integrating-psychology-with-christian-ministry/

12.  http://www.newsweek.com/newsweek-poll-americans-religious-beliefs-77349

13.  (PARADE Spirituality  Poll was conducted by Insight Express among a national online panel of  adults ages 18 and over. Surveys were completed by 1,051  respondents from May 8-12, 2009Poll, April 2009,) http://parade.com/48410/parade/04-spirituality-poll-results/

14.  Newsweek, “Science Finds God” http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/newsweek/science_of_god/scienceofgod.

15.  Mental Disorders, Substance Abuse Linked to Increased Emergency Department             Visits http://www.medscape.com  /viewarticle/725450

16  ln  U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics 2014 Pastoral Counselor http://study.com/articles/Salary_and_Career_Information_for_Pastoral_Counselors.html

17. Help From Above: In Times of Trouble, Growing Numbers of …ww.w.renewalchristiancare.com/help-from-above-in-times-of-troublegro

18 . PDF]The Decline of American Religion? – The Association of …  www.thearda.com/rrh/…/chaves.pd..

19. Decline of Religion – Huffington Post www.huffingtonpost.com/news/decline-of-religio

20. America’s Changing Religious Landscape | Pew Research Cente                                                                                       www.pewforum.org/2015/05/12/americas-changing- religious-landscape/ May 12, 2015 – The Christian share of the U.S. population is declining, while the  share of Americans who do not identify with any organized religion is growing.

21. The Real Reason Religion Is Declining In America .. https://www.psychologytoday.com/…/the-real-reason-.. Psychology Today  May 27, 2015 –

23. Astronomy 161:  An introduction to Solar System Astronomy Prof. Richard Pogge, A Brief Note on Religious Objections to Copernicus: www.astronomy.ohio state.edu/-pogge/Ast161/Unit3/response.html

24.http://healthitsecurity.com/news/lawyers-break-down-2016-hipaa-audits- connected-devices

25.http://www.hpso.com/risk-education/individuals/articles/Should-You- Respond-to-that-Subpoena

26. .zurinstitute.com/subpoena.html#hipaa

27. What Level of Education Does a Pastoral Counselor Need?  www.bestcounselingdegrees.net/…/what-level-of-education-does-a- pastor

 28    JAMA Network | JAMA | Nov 11, 1998  jama.jamanetwork.com/issue.aspx?issueid=4583 JAMA. November 11, 1998Vol 280No18.  Theme: Alternative Medicine .Trends in Alternative Medicine Use in the  United States, 1990-1997: Results of a Follow-up National Survey FREE.  PDF. David M. ….. AMA Publishing Group  Journals.

29. The Misunderstood Pastoral Counselor: Knowledge and Religiosity as Factors Affecting a Client’s Choice.  https://www.counseling.org/resources/library/vistas/vistas12/Article_62.pdf

 30.  Theory and Practice of Pastoral Counseling Final Exam Study Questions from Text. Pp8-12   https://quizlet.com/41399096/theory-practice-of-pastoral-counseling-final-exam-study-questions-flash-cards/

31.Best Counseling Degrees.net http://www.bestcounselingdegrees.net/faq/what-level-of- education-does-a- pastoral-counselor- need/

32. Spiritual issues in counseling: Clients’ beliefs and preferences.psycnet.apa.org/journals/rel/S/1/18/American Psychological Association by EM Rose – ‎2008 – ‎Cited by 289 – ‎Related articles Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, Vol S(1), Aug 2008, 18-33. … Type: Journal Article; Reprint; Digital Object Identifier:http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/1941-1022.S.1.18

33. Anna Medaris Miller Health + Wellness reporter at U.S.  News.http://health.usnews.com/health-news/best hospitals/ articles/  2015/07/21/ what-to-do-during-a-mental-health-crisis

[34] http://www.pewforum.org/2015/05/12/americas-changing-religious- landscape/

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