What is Pastoral Counseling?

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From time to time, it is wise to take another person’s advice. Pastoral counseling can come in many forms for different religious communities, and as a result, there may lie different points of view to consider. For anybody seeking an answer to a vexing problem, pastoral counseling may give them the answer they seek with a religious addition. Many priests, pastors, ministers, imams, rabbis, and other religious leaders offer pastoral counseling.

What is Pastoral Counseling?

Counseling, in general, is intended to give a person or a group of people solutions to their problems. By the same vein, pastoral counseling is when a person uses their religious beliefs and knowledge of psychology to administer therapy. If you’ve heard of the American Association of Pastoral Counselors, then you should know that the pastoral counselors of the AAPC have now joined up with the ACPE. Pastoral counselors often have experience and knowledge in behavioral sciences and counseling experience in a scientific setting, but also counsel their clients with religion.

Who is Pastoral Counseling for? 

If you’ve lost a loved one recently and are seeking answers about life and death, a pastoral counselor can guide you to re-establish your faith. Other valid reasons to seek out pastoral counseling include emotional conflicts, substance abuse, the need to see a mental health specialist right away, and if you need a marriage and family therapist with more religious connotations involved.

When Should I Start with Christian Counseling?

Are you facing the end of your life and are questioning your faith? Is there another mental health issue you need to address right away in a faith-inspired perspective? If the answer to either question is yes, then it’s advisable to check out a pastoral counselor as soon as possible. Anytime you feel that you could use some help, it is a good time to consider seeing a pastoral counselor.

Benefits of Pastoral Counseling

Therapy can be used for any emotional or mental trouble, whether you approach it from a faith-based perspective or not. Should you value your faith, you can learn to cope with the root of your problems. Private practices offered by pastoral counselors help you move on from grief, address what in your life should be re-evaluated, and how you can become a better person.

Whether you’re an individual or a family needing assistance, pastoral counseling can assist you in the following:

  • Marriage Problems
  • Death
  • Community Conflict
  • Spiritual Assessment
  • Substance Abuse
  • Unify Your Body with Your Spirit & Mind

Online vs. In-Person

Both online and in-person counseling is beneficial to your behavior and spiritual health yet offer some distinct differences worth noting. 

Online Counseling Advantages:

  • Done in the Comfort of Your Own Home
  • Great for People with Physical Disabilities that Limit Movement
  • Can Be Done at Any Time
  • No Expenses for Driving, Flying, etc.
  • Several More Options than Just In-Person

In-Person Counseling Advantages:

  • More Personal
  • Easier to Participate in Rituals and Community Events
  • Doesn’t Require Internet
  • Isn’t as Reliant on Electricity

Naturally, both methods of approaching pastoral therapy are valid and can assist in your spiritual issues. One example of where pastoral counseling can benefit you a lot involves marital troubles, and marital therapy is easy to do through both methods.

How Does Pastoral Counseling Work?

Whether you choose an in-person therapist or an online therapist, it is essential to note on how it works. Pastoral counseling stems from advice about your faith, so it often involves religious beliefs. Pastoral counselors are trained mental health professionals, so their therapy is very similar to nonreligious therapists in methodology, while mainly differing in the end goal.

Think about it this way: a therapist’s job often involves listening to their client’s problems. If the client is true to themselves and letting everything out, then the counselor can give the most appropriate advice for the situation. For those who lie and do not provide genuine issues, you may get information that is irrelevant to your situation. Henceforth, it’s best, to be honest with your religious advisor. Keep in mind that they keep confidentiality just as well as other medical specialists, so you don’t have to worry about private info leaking.

Utilizing both psychology and theology, an excellent pastoral counselor can link psychological concepts such as conditioning and homeostasis to religion. There’s always an answer somewhere, and sometimes it takes a deeper introspection to find it. They understand this and are willing to help guide you until you find the answer you’re looking for.

How To Choose the Best Online Pastoral Counselor

Some people prefer online counselors, so it’s essential to understand how to find the right one for you. Now you could just Google ‘online pastoral counselor,’ but that’s bloated with ads and may not be the best option for your specific needs. Oftentimes you have to be more precise and find a website that appeals to your faith and customs in a language you understand.

Several websites specialize in counseling, and these often tie into specialties such as pastoral counseling. You can find general pastoral therapy for general spiritual problems on several sites if you’re unsure if you need help. If you do know the specific problem, such as how to combat substance abuse, then a specialized pastoral counselor is the best option for you.


A crucial element to look for when seeking online counseling is to see if there is a review system implemented. Reviews are the perfect way to see if a specific counselor is the right one for you, especially since you might not personally know anybody who uses that online counselor. Highly rated counselors are often coveted while you can safely ignore the ones with one star most of the time.

Speaking of reviews being instrumental to online mediums, you need to understand what reviews can bring to the table for you. When you see somebody rated highly for online counseling for families, you should realize that the pastoral counselor may be a perfect fit for your family troubles. Similarly, if you see one specializing in marriage being rated high for that but no reviews are about the loss of a loved one, that counselor may not be the right one for you.


John S.

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