What is the Difference Between State Licensed Clinicians and Ordained Pastoral Counselors

There is often confusion for the layperson when needing to see someone for professional or personal guidance and support..  Pastoral Counselors offers a spiritual perspective as well as mental health proven practices which include: Meditation, Contemplation, Prayer, Energy Healing Practices.  They seek to help the client or couple to better understand themselves not only on the physical, mental and emotional level but also on the spiritual level as well.  They help clients develop greater insight and reliance on spiritual principles for healing and greater relationship wellbeing.  They help clients see and understand themselves from a broader context than simply focusing on any one physical, mental, or behavioral component of a person or couple stuck or struggling with a challenge.

Pastoral Counseling is synonymous with the term Mind, Body, Spirit or Faith-Based Counseling. It is a listening art which sees the individual in his or her wholeness ie. as a leaf connected to the tree, not as a separated leaf or worst a sick decaying leaf isolated and alone.  Pastoral Counseling honors each person from a place of totality or context of mind, body, and spiritual human being.  Pastoral counseling is a practice based on empathy, compassion, healing, education of relationship and spiritual principles which encompasses interpersonal collaboration, and spiritual and psychological recognition.

IT IS IMPORTANT TO DISTINGUISH PASTORAL COUNSELING FROM PSYCHO-THERAPY.  AT AIWP, WE DO SO IN THE FOLLOWING WAYS:

  1. Psychotherapy, according to Webster’s dictionary, is a treatment of mental or emotional disorders or of related bodily ills by psychological means.
  2. An AIWP Pastoral Counselor or Faith-Based Healer does not view her/himself as a clinical diagnostician but as a partner with considerable experience who in collaboration with Spirit and a willing participant shares in the responsibility for understanding, exploring and clarifying an individual’s or couple’s developmental life pursuits. This is a joint undertaking towards a better understanding and integration of one’s whole life experience.
  3. People who seek Pastoral Counseling do not regard themselves as having a disorder or an illness and would not be so regarded by their counselor.
  4.  AIWP pastoral counselors do not practice and are not licensed to practice psychotherapy. This would be outside the scope of their work as ministers. However, in carrying out their work as pastoral counselors they will, like all counselors, call upon various counseling techniques and the wealth of psychological and spiritual literature.
  5.  A Pastoral Counselor understands that the difficulties and challenges of life can be a portal for spiritual growth. Pastoral counseling recognizes the need for an environment in which people who seek to discuss their life-concerns can be offered informed listening without reference to the clinical diagnosis or treatment of an illness.

These guidelines have been adopted by AIWP, Association for the Integration of the Whole Person as guidelines for ministers. They form a foundation for how I work with my counseling clients and are responsible for a grounded and thorough approach.

PASTORAL COUNSELING BELONGS WITHIN THE SPIRITUAL NOT THE MEDICAL TRADITIONS.

It recognizes that spiritual authority resides in the heart, not in the judgment of the client or the ounselor.

It listens for the other’s unique spirituality. It is interested in what the client considers the meaning of life; where this is not known, Pastoral Counseling helps to seek this meaning. In Pastoral Counseling the goal is not to heal but to mutually create an environment within which the unspoken self can emerge.

Pastoral Counseling recognizes and accepts that an individual’s spiritual perspective includes the totality of one’s life. A few examples are family history, trauma, use of substances as an escape, self-defeating patterns, thoughts and behaviors, inevitable losses, separations, and non-resourceful interpersonal relationships.



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