Have you pursued religious studies and work in a capacity that allows you to serve a group of people? Do you not feel professionally satisfied, and feel as if something is still missing with regards to your career goals? Maybe you should consider pursuing a career as a pastoral counselor. Pastoral counseling allows psychologically trained ministers, priests, imams, and rabbis to provide therapy services to individuals in need. In this career field, it is common for pastoral counselors to correlate modern thoughts and practices of psychology with more traditional religious training. This approach is used in hopes of addressing psychospiritual issues, along with the traditional aspects of counseling services.
Pastoral counselors differ from other types of counselors in that they consistently work to represent the central, most important image of life and how the meaning of life is affirmed by a person's religious communities. Therefore, a pastoral counselor offers therapeutic help to his or her patients through an understanding of life and faith. Furthermore, pastoral counselors operate under the resources of both theology and psychology in order to gain a deeper understanding of the pastoral relationship. The career field of pastoral counseling has seen significant growth in recent years. As a result of this growth, pastoral counselors have continued to encourage cooperation between medically based professionals and religious based professionals. Both parties believe that their cooperation will ultimately benefit patients who are dealing with issues such as addiction.
As a pastoral counselor you will likely need to be comfortable providing spiritual and mental health guidance to individuals who have a variety of faith backgrounds. You may find yourself counseling individuals who are dealing with grief management, stress management, marriage preparation, or substance abuse recovery. In this profession you will be serving as a mental health counselor who will be providing comfort and expertise to people who need help with faith or life issues, or the combination of the two. Although in your capacity as a pastor you will be accustomed to providing help to the people of your church, as a pastoral counselor your responsibilities will vary slightly.
For instance, your training and expertise will prepare you to handle issues or difficulties that may arise outside of a church setting or congregation. You will be able to seek employment in a rehabilitation facility, a hospital, a specific type of workplace, a military base, or within a specific counseling practice. You may also provide counseling services to individuals who are dealing with a spiritual crisis or who are terminally ill and facing the end of their life. Your training and expertise will also make it possible for you to counsel individuals who are dealing with an act that they committed that may be causing them difficulty in their life. For instance, you could be required to help someone who has committed abuse or marital infidelity. You might even be counseling someone who is the victim of such acts in an attempt to deal with what is going on in their life. Depression is another major issue that pastoral counselors seem to find themselves dealing with on a regular basis. In this situation you would be responsible for helping your patient uncover the true meaning of his or her depression, as well as design plausible treatment plans that he or she can potentially complete.
In order to become a pastoral counselor it is advised you receive your masters degree, a degree from a seminary, along with a doctorate degree or a concentrated master's degree in a psychology related field of study. Following your educational training you will have to be certified by the American Association of Pastoral Counselors.