Is Pastoral Care and Therapy Counseling the Same Thing?

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is pastoral care and therapy counseling the same thing

Although both pastoral care therapy counseling provide common training, emotional support, and goals, there is a difference between the two. Members of both professions have a clear understanding of similarities. The differences between the two can benefit their knowledge by giving strength to the workings of both fields. The study was explored by using the Delphi method. How leading professionals of both fields perceive the commonalities and differences between pastoral care and therapy counseling.

By understanding the perspectives from which members of each field trained from both areas to grasp a better awareness of the intent and purpose of each discipline.

Recently counseling has been more concerned with spiritual and religious issues. Counseling is playing an essential role in becoming aware of religion and spirituality in client’s lives. In contrast, professionals of pastoral care are aware of the importance of counseling skills in pastoral care. Both the fields overlap in the spiritual dimensions of human care. Professionals have expressed uncertainty about the professional boundaries that separate them. Both the areas seem to be gaining strength in understanding the unique perspective and contributions each discipline can offer.

For example, a counselor with a strong understanding of the limits of his own fields has a great sense of when to refer a client to a pastoral counselor by knowing what he can offer. This article will provide you a better understanding of these two professions.

What is Pastoral Care?

Pastoral care is defined as the services performed by the pastor. In Christianity, the pastor is who guides the people of all walks of life. This implies a form of religious counseling that assists people in getting through their tough times.  The care of a pastor extends many areas; for instance, helping people through counseling, caring for the sick, and engaging in different social activities highlight the role of the pastor.

Pastoral care counseling is available and accessible to all people. Since pastors are respected by society, people can easily have a say and openly discuss their problems. During training, pastors are exposed to counseling that assists them in helping people to come out of their difficult times.

What is therapy counseling?

Counseling can be defined as a process in which a counselor guides people to find solutions for the problems that they are facing. In this process, the counselor acts as a guide. It’s not the duty of the counselor to advise the counselee to follow the actions. The counselor can only mention the options available for the counselee and discuss the pros and cons of these options to come up with his final decision.

In this profession, counseling work ethics is considered mandatory as compared to other professions. Counselor often experiences more dilemmas due to various issues counselees came up with. It is essential to follow a code of ethics. The most important principle of ethics is confidentiality. The counselor should not disclose the information of the counselee or use the information for their gain. A breach can only be reached if the situation abuse or suicidal thoughts etc.

Counselors need to develop skills to be more efficient and effective in their field. For example, in humanistic psychology, qualities such as empathy and positive regard are considered core values that should develop by counselors to be more effective. This will help the counselor to understand the counselee without sympathizing and be nonjudgmental.

Features of between Pastoral Care and Counseling:


Pastoral Care:

Pastoral care has its roots in religion.


Counseling has its roots in psychology.

Professional Training:

Pastoral Care:

Pastors do not need professional training, although they need some exposure to counseling which is gained by seminary training


Counselors need professional training, which helps them handle all types of dilemmas and situations during the study.


Pastoral Care:

In pastoral care, people find themselves in their comfort zone as a pastor is well respected and trusted.


In counseling, since the counselor is a stranger, people find it challenging to build trust, which takes some time.

Final Thoughts

The studies have revealed that the pastoral and counseling professions as being similar. Many pieces of research believed that both fields have inherent differences; developing an understanding of these differences beyond the level of speculation can significantly enhance the strength of both fields and their abilities to help each other in their respective professions.

In the future, research can be done to find the starting point of developing and understanding boundaries between counseling and pastoral counseling.

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