This month we join the American Counseling Association (ACA) in celebrating our profession. It seems only appropriate that we take this opportunity to brag a little!
The Handbook of Psychotherapy and Religious Diversity (Richards and Bergin, American Psychological Association Press, 2000) states that “the alienation between the mental health professions and religion for most of the 20th century is ending (p.3).” The authors recognize spirituality as a pervasive and influential facet of diversity which has long been ignored in the counseling room. However, “working sensitively and effectively with religious and spiritually oriented clients often requires more than just general multicultural attitudes and skills. It can require specialized knowledge and training…(p.12)”
According to the American Association of Pastoral Counselors (AAPC), “Pastoral counseling is a unique form of counseling which uses spiritual resources as well as psychological understanding for healing and growth.” Pastoral counselors treat the same concerns addressed by other licensed counselors – they may simply have a few extra tools in their bags. We are helpers “who have also had in-depth religious and/or theological training (AAPC).” It could be argued that working with a pastoral counselor is a value-added experience.
When should you see a counselor? ACA notes that counseling may help those facing the following challenges:
- anxiety, depression, and other mental and emotional problems and disorders
- family and relationship issues
- substance abuse and other addictions
- sexual abuse and domestic violence
- eating disorders
- career change and job stress
- social and emotional difficulties related to disability and illness
- adapting to life transitions
- the death of a loved one
The bottom line? ACA member Dr. William King notes: “If someone is questioning if they should go into counseling that is probably the best indicator that they should. You should trust your instincts.”
–Carolyn Buresh, PC&CC counselor and assistant in the Pastoral Counseling Department at Loyola College