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What is a Pastoral Counselor?

Pastoral counselors are ministers authorized by a religious denomination or a faith group to work with emotionally distressed individuals, couples, or groups.

Pastoral counselors work as representatives of religious communities or churches. Qualified counselors must have both a religious endorsement and psychotherapeutic training.

What you should know about pastoral counseling:

  • Pastoral counseling is done by licensed clinical counselors
  • Pastoral counseling is accredited by the American Association of Pastoral Counseling (AAPC)
  • Pastoral counseling is a process

It is commonly assumed that pastoral counselors only provide council to clergy. However, pastoral counselors work with any person that needs counseling, not just clergy.

Another common misconception is that pastoral counselors are parish clergy who regularly preach, perform the sacraments, and visit the sick. While many pastoral counselors can perform these acts of ministry, they devote most of their time to the practice of psychotherapy —or counseling—with individuals and families.

It is important to understand that pastoral counseling is a process, not a quick fix. Pastoral counselors use the insights and principals of theology and behavioral sciences to develop the wholeness and health of individuals.

Counselors also work with couples, families, groups, organizations, and anyone else who would benefit from pastoral counseling.

The American Association of Pastoral Counselors

The AAPC was created in 1964 to promote the ministry of pastoral counseling and to accredit pastoral counselors. A therapist that is certified by the AAPC is a qualified professional that is annually reviewed to ensure they are providing the highest quality of care

Source: An adaptation from an article written by Blane Rader, Ph.D, AAPC

Content Updated: November 25, 2014

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These Miami Valley Hospital locations offer Spiritual Care Services.
Spiritual Care at Miami Valley Hospital
One Wyoming St. Dayton, OH  45409
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