The Need for Pastoral Counseling -- By: J. Ellwood Evans

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 116:462 (Apr 1959)
Article: The Need for Pastoral Counseling
Author: J. Ellwood Evans

The Need for Pastoral Counseling

J. Ellwood Evans

[J. Ellwood Evans is Professor of Practical Theology at Dallas Theological Seminary.]

Within the past quarter century there has arisen in America a profession that has received great impetus from the accomplishments it has wrought. The work of dealing with individuals, who for one reason or another are maladjusted or perplexed or unable to cope with the problems of life, has occupied the time of more and more professional people. They work under various titles. If the work is done in a plant or a factory, the title of personnel worker may be used. If the work is done in an educational institution, the term student counselor may be employed. If the work is done with reference to marital matters, the title may be marriage counselor. When the work is done by the minister of a church, the term pastoral counselor should be employed. Other terms are used—psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker—but the work is of the same general nature since problems of being out of touch with the world of normal behavior are the source of their occupation.

Attempts have been made to account for the maladjustment of the individual. People become threatened in one way or another and require adjustment to be restored to an adequate conception of reality. When a person is faced with a momentary threat, it may be handled in a number of ways. The individual may deal with the situation without becoming overly upset by it. He may attempt to escape his inefficiency by any one of a number of private distortions. He may enter into regression whereby the memories of yesteryears with its more carefree outlook are experienced. Or, he may indulge in fantasy and disregard “completely the demands of his physical and social environment, withdrawing into himself to daydream of success.”1 He may indulge in that type of self-deception commonly called projection in which he attributes his own secret thoughts, wishes, and short comings to another

person. His disguise may be what is called rationalization in which the real trouble is plausibly but contrarily explained away by conveniently forgetting the whole truth or the genuine reason. Or, his distortion may be the attitude called compensation, which is closely allied to rationalization, by which defense mechanisms are employed to protect self from the unpleasantness of reality.

While these techniques may be used successfully in matters of small importance, they will not satisfy the individual when faced with a matter which he considers to be of real importance. Such a situation, if not adjusted, becomes a ph...

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