Identity and Ethics
The primary objective of this essay is to evaluate the identity and ethics of pastoral counseling. The overview of the process provides an understanding of how it is conducted. In order to be an exceptional pastoral counselor, one is required to possess certain characteristics. Such characteristics include ability to emulate Christ, wisdom and of course have academic qualifications in the field of counseling. The field of pastoral counseling is supported by a number of professional bodies. These bodies also set in place a number of ethical codes aimed at regulating the profession. The identity of a pastoral counselor is a professional one. Pastoral counseling has proven to be beneficial to people burdened with various problems.
Initially, a pastor’s role included preaching, evangelizing and administration roles. Today, pastoral counseling has become part of the roles of a practicing pastor. According to Johnson and Johnson, pastors provide counseling to people facing a number of problems. These individuals may or may not be members of their congregation. The process of pastoral counseling tends to combine psychological concepts with religious ones. Consequently, the issues being addressed can be described to be psycho spiritual in nature. The religious concepts used in pastoral counseling are adapted from basic truths from scripture. As a counselor, it is important for a pastor to develop a sense of professionalism that establishes him as a counselor. The purpose of this essay is to explore the professional identity and ethics of being a pastoral counselor.
The pastoral counseling process involves interaction between the counseling pastors and the counselee. Edward explains the counselee is the person being counseled who may or may not be a member of the pastor’s congregation. The process demands attention to be focused on the identity of the counselor and their counselor. Before embarking on the process, it is essential that the specific religious tools to be applied and resources needed be identified.
The process of pastoral counseling shows the comfort that is present in Christianity as it assists the counselee to move towards a journey of emotional, mental and physical wellbeing. Therefore, the counselor can be viewed as tool through which Christ uses to bring his man toward him.
Description of the Pastoral Counselor
There are certain important characteristics that pastoral counselors ought to possess. These characteristics are supposed to reflect Christ as pastoral counseling applies Christian concepts. Trull and Carte highlight the following characteristics of a pastoral counselor.
The pastoral counselor should be a trained professional with educational qualifications. They should have a degree or a master’s in counseling or in a related field. It is also significant that they be certified by joining a professional body supporting pastoral counseling.
It is imperative that a pastoral counselor be a Christian believer with strong faith in Christ. He should be a person who recognizes the significance of forgiveness and its role in the process of healing.
The pastoral counselor should be able to apply the wisdom of his religion in assisting his counselees achieve healing or overcome their problems. This can only be achieved if the counselor is knowledgeable on scripture and has the wisdom to apply it to suit the specific problem of the counselee.
Finally, the pastoral counselor should be a person who emulates Christ. In this sense, he should strive to raise his counselees up towards growth just as Christ would. This will require a great deal of maturity and strong belief in the teachings of Christ.
Professional Partnerships Supporting Pastoral Counseling
There are a number of professional partnerships that support pastoral counseling. These professional partnerships regulate the codes of behavior for counselors. They also provide membership which for these counselors which aims at boosting their professional qualifications. Some of these professional partnerships are discussed below.
American Association of Pastoral Counselors (AAPC) is among the professional partnerships supporting pastoral counseling. According to the American Association of Pastoral Counselors a pastoral counselor is a pastor or a minister who counsels people while integrating religious concepts in the process. The body supports pastoral counseling through its authority to certify various levels of pastoral counseling. It is also responsible for accrediting pastoral counseling centers. In addition it approves the counseling programs to be used in pastoral counseling.
Another significant professional body of pastoral counseling is the Association of Professional Chaplains (APC). This body encompasses a membership of more than 5000 people who are committed to providing chaplaincy care. The body supports pastoral counseling by promoting chaplaincy care to all people without discrimination. It also promotes a high standard of professional competency. This in turn ensures that the process of chaplaincy care is remains excellent.
American Association of Pastoral Counselors (AAPC) is another professional body that promotes pastoral counseling. This body certifies pastoral counseling levels and educational qualifications. It is also provides membership to a number of qualified counselors enhancing further their professional qualifications. The organization supports pastoral counseling by offering educational continuity, training for enhancement of skills and promotes growth and development of the profession.
The final professional body to be discussed supporting pastoral counseling is the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE). This professional body supports pastoral counseling by providing education and training for pastoral counseling. In addition, the body is involved in a number of practices aimed at improving the quantity of pastoral counseling. This professional body also provides qualified pastoral counselors with professional membership.
Model for Ethical Guidelines
Pastoral counseling differs greatly with other forms of counseling. This is because the role of a pastor as a counselor requires a great deal of accountability. Therefore, the process of pastoral counseling follows an ethical guideline that is aimed at ensuring that the counselor maintains a professional demeanor with his or her counselee. The ethical requirements that pastoral counselors are required to develop have been set in place by Christian professional counseling bodies. According to Trull and Carte, the following represent the ethical guidelines for pastoral counseling in relation to clients.
The counselor should speak and behave in a manner that honors the dignity and value of every individual. This means that the counselor should not form any negative opinion towards the client no matter who they are or what problem they are facing.
The counselor is also supposed to provide the counselee with care that is intended to promote their best interests. This will lead to fostering of strength, integrity and healing. This means that the counselor ought to realize that the wellbeing of the counselee is the most important thing. They should therefore do all they can to ensure they get through their problems.
The counselor also has the ethical responsibility of respecting the cultural and religious values of the counselees. They are not supposed to impose their values and beliefs on those they counsel.
Another ethical obligation put forward is, counselors ought to maintain a professional relationship with their clients. This is in line with the ethical guideline that prevents these pastoral counselors from engaging in sexual misconduct including harassment of their clients.
Pastoral counselors also have the ethical obligation of safeguarding the confidentiality of their clients. This should be observed when using materials related to the clients in for educational and research purpose. Still in line with confidentiality, counselors are supposed to respect the confidentiality of the information entrusted to them when communicating with the family members of the counselee.
Factors for Pastoral Professional Identity
In pastoral counseling, the pastor in this capacity of a counselor is a professional. Piper opines that being a pastor may not be considered to be a profession but rather a calling. This therefore means that becoming a pastor does not require set skills and training as it is through the grace of God. Nevertheless, pastors still receive vocational training. Becoming a pastoral counselor on the other hand requires one to develop professional identity. Some of the factors to consider in shaping this pastoral professional identity are as below.
As a counselor, a pastor ought to develop a number of skills that enhance his professional identity. The pastor develops these skills by effectively capitalizing on religious beliefs. He applies these skills in the counseling sessions. Firstly, the pastor should have proactive listening skills. Mastering the skill of listening is the first step towards becoming an excellent counselor. In order to shape and enhance this skill, effective training must be undertaken. Kollar asserts listening as an effective method of helping the counselee. This is because; it makes them feel that they are understood despite their current problem.
Pastoral counseling can be viewed as a religious activity. This is the one thing that sets it apart from other forms of counseling. As a result, it is critical that the counseling pastor utilize references to scripture in the counseling sessions. This is especially effective when both the pastor and counselee share a common belief. Edward opines that the use of scripture in the counseling session is more effective as it touches on matters of the soul. This being the inner most part of a human being, the chances of healing and finding relief are likely in this kind of counseling.
A pastoral counselor should have the ability to pray with the counselee. The counselor’s pastoral identity shows implies that those coming to be counseled are people who are looking for spiritual solutions for their troubles. The pastor should therefore be able to apply prayers as a means of helping counselee overcome his or her troubles.
Functions of Pastoral Counseling
Pastoral counseling plays an important role in the well being of people. The functions of pastoral role cannot be undermined. According to Edward and Piper the following are some of the functions of pastoral counseling.
Firstly, pastoral counseling has the function of healing. The counselor restores the hurt counselee to a condition of wholeness. As a consequence, the welfare of the counselee improves. The process of pastoral counseling being a spiritual one also helps the soul to recuperate.
Pastoral counseling also has the function of sustaining the counselee. The counselor assists the counselee to endure the hardship or the problem until they finally overcome it. This is done through helping the individual being counseled to keep their faith and find their inner strength to accept their situation.
Thirdly, pastoral counseling has the function of providing guidance to the counselee. This is most significant when the counselee is in a dilemma and is having difficult in making a choice. The counselor can guide the counselee by allowing them make their own choices or directing them towards other methods of making a choice.
Finally, pastoral counseling has the function of restoring broken relationships. This restoration of relationship is between people and between people and God. This is achieved through forgiveness and repentance.
The field of pastoral counseling is a profession requiring one to develop an ability and skill in counseling. It is not a vocation. A pastoral counselor is charged with the responsibility of providing counseling to their counselees while applying various scriptures. This is has been the main differences between pastoral counseling and other forms of counseling. Each counselor develops their own unique style and practice of counseling. It is imperative that the counselors observe the various ethical codes of conduct set in place while counseling. These codes of ethics are meant to ensure that the counselors maintain their professional identity. The codes of ethics have been set in place by various professional organizations that provide support in the process of pastoral counseling.