Counseling and Pastoral Training -- By: Frank C. Peters

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 126:504 (Oct 1969)
Article: Counseling and Pastoral Training
Author: Frank C. Peters


Counseling and Pastoral Training

Frank C. Peters

It is not my intention in this lecture to comment on pastoral training in general, but rather to restrict myself to that aspect of training which I believe should help the theological student toward insights and skills necessary for pastoral counseling. An effective pastoral ministry requires much more than a theoretical and practical understanding of modern counseling philosophy and procedure. I trust that I have made myself sufficiently clear that I do not think that counseling is the primary function of the evangelical pastor. If compared with the preaching of the Word, counseling must take on a subsidiary function.

However, this does not suggest that training in counseling should not be part of the training of every evangelical pastor. To the contrary, some training in counseling is very necessary for without it the minister would be ill-equipped for his task as a pastor. The encounters of the first years would convince him that he should have more training in this field.

The Need for Clinical Pastoral Training

Much of the pastor’s time will be devoted to those who are physically and emotionally ill. This will bring him into direct contact with the medical profession. In many cases, the two professions will never meet directly and each will carry out its functions without specifically relating to the other. Probably the pastor will be conscious of the doctor’s relationship to the patient but the doctor will not know of the pastor’s concern for and ministry to the patient.

With greater insight into the psychological implications of illness, physicians have developed a sympathetic interest

in the mental health of patients. While they continue to deal with the physical implications of emotional distress, they recognize that the understanding pastor listening to the problems, conflicts, and fears which are on the patient’s heart is an important ally on the health team.

In psychosomatic medicine, the relationship between mind and body is being rediscovered and applied to modern situations. In doing this, doctors are in search of partners for the health team and, where personal prejudices do not close doors, they are ready for discussions with pastors interested in this ministry. However, this raises the important question of training. Those in the healing arts deal with a fairly standardized pattern of training which makes it possible for them to anticipate rather accurately the skills which one could find in a person certified for a particular task. When they begin to communicate with pastors they soon discover the diversity which exists with respect to the training and ...

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