Pastoral counseling goes beyond the encouragement or support that any religious community can deliver, by offering psychologically sound therapies that weaves in spiritual and religious dimension. It is important to see that not just it is a time improved emphasis on the therapy but also it is a time of improved interest in spirituality.
The pastoral counselors are basically clergy who have undertaken a graduate training in behavioral science and religion for clinical practice that assimilates theological and psychological disciplines. This program typically involves a 3 year professional degree through a seminary and a doctoral or masters degree in pastoral counseling along with a clinical experience and personal psychotherapy. Most of the pastoral counselors are registered by the AAPC (American Association of Pastoral Counselors), which also approves the training programs and accredits different counseling centers.
The counselors also practice in both private offices and institutions. They also perform consultations for the community clergy. In many states, an individual does not require a license to perform pastoral counseling; many people practice the profession under the title of priests, parish ministers or rabbis who does not possess AAPC affiliation. AAPC has developed a national licensing exam and its members are also in charge of the faith communities.
So, what is discreet about pastoral counseling as a kind of psychotherapy? Well, most of the pastoral counselors have belief in God or supreme power that has created human beings. They think that we all desire for a transforming connection with God and some of the AAPC members think that in a therapeutic way they can balance the healing and loving nature of being itself. Some of the members in AAPC believe that in the therapeutic role for the spiritual values but not in God. The pastoral counselor can also use the traditional religious sources like scripture reading, prayers and taking part in community life and worship of congregation. They also pay exclusive attention on the history of client and his family and determine how it can contribute to the resources required for coping and to pathology.
The false pictures of God can hamper one's concept of oneself. The traits of parents of the client and other authorities might have been focused on a heavenly figure. What emerges to the true internal voice in an individual's life may actually function as false absolute or an idol. Mistaken beliefs about people, oneself and entire world may result due to participation in hidden theological drama, derived from history of the family and mistakenly supported by different religious institutions.
Thus, Pastoral Counseling is a unique synthesis of religion and therapy, which serve to help and heal human beings in times of crisis and trouble.