How to Become a Pastoral Community Counselor
What is Pastoral Community Counseling?
Like general counseling within a community, a pastoral community counseling background equips patients with faith-based support techniques. Unlike general counseling, there is an emphasis on religious faith to pull patients through tough times and issues such as:
• Maternity issues
• Neglect or abuse
• Substance abuse, drug treatment, or alcohol addictions (may require specialized schooling)
• Family issues or toxic relationships
• Emotional or mental disorders (requires a background in psychology)
• Workplace stress or school related bullying
• Dating issues
• New parenthood
There may be a series of different topics brought up, but the most common one’s are listed above. Pastoral community counseling maintains a strong emphasis on self-love and self-compassion as well as religious guidance for all patients.
What Characteristics are Needed to Enter Pastoral Community Counseling?
Counseling requires certain skills that are essential to maintaining composure while relating to patients, and to be empathetic to their needs. With pastoral community counseling, most characteristics are the same as general counseling except for the religious belief system. Some traits that are needed include, but are not limited to:
• Empathy for all clients
• Patience when sitting with clients
• Offering constructive advice and being understanding towards different problems, no matter how severe
• Maintaining professional boundaries at all times
• Understanding and communicating when higher forms of help are needed (psychiatric evaluations, psychologist services, etc.)
• Understanding biblical and religious teachings to help clients overcome bad periods in their life
• Maintaining confidentiality at all times regarding each session
Overall, the most important aspects of a pastoral community counseling position is understanding the religion, maintaining professional boundaries, and maintaining confidentiality at all times. Patience and empathy are also crucial.
What Schooling is Needed to Become a Pastoral Community Counselor?
Pastoral community counseling has the same requirements as a general counseling background, which includes a master’s degree course in social work. Overall, the basic schooling process is to obtain bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, then clinical placement within a pastoral or health-care environment. Some schooling options may include, but are not limited to:
• Bachelor’s degree courses in art, religion, psychology, or theology (online or in-school)
• Master’s degree courses in social work or theology (online or in-school)
• PhD courses in social work or theology (online or in-school)
• Fast-track or part-time degree course loads
• Extracurricular programs
Depending on the school, there are a series of different options to suit different lifestyles and availabilities. After a master’s degree in social work is obtained, there is a generally a clinical placement for a set number of hours to see how candidates work within the field. Speaking directly to a post-secondary school in your area is the best way to understand what credentials are needed to enter the field of pastoral community counseling.
How do I get Started?
If pastoral community counseling seems like a field you would like to enter, speaking directly to the registrar at a local college can give you an understanding of the courses, hours, and placement options available. As well, speaking to current pastoral community counselors can give you direct insight into the to better understand their job enjoyment!