Counseling skills help pastors cope?

A couple of people sent me links to a recent news item out of Britain concerning the value of teaching counseling skills to pastors. Researchers there found that pastors who do a lot of emotion laden work with parishioners bear a heavy load (pretty obvious so it is nice to see that research doesn’t say otherwise). Those pastors with counseling skills training seem to cope better with the distress. I’ve not seen any in-depth description of the study so I can’t comment on why this might be the case. It could be that pastors with counseling training are more self-aware. It could be they are more positive on the benefits of talk therapy and so utilize it for themselves. It could be they feel more effective in their counseling work and therefore feel less helpless.

Whatever the case, I’m happy that it supports my coursework teaching counseling skills to pastors.

Read about the research:  CT’s news blurb, Medical News blurb


Filed under christian counseling, counseling, counseling science, pastoral renewal, pastors and pastoring

2 responses to “Counseling skills help pastors cope?

  1. Lou Buses

    It could be that by getting “good” counseling training (by that I mean training that brings us to face ourselves and not just focus on the other guy) they are finally being equipped to do their job.

    I went through a good seminary, BTS, but until I began counseling training I was able to ignore, rationalize, and excuse too much sin in my life. When I began studying counseling, I began to understand the dynamics of sin and progressive salvation in a way that brought me to deal with myself before God at a new level.

    I came to the church I attend three years ago. With the pastor’s agreement, we started a counseling center. Our pastor had not been trained in counseling and I encouraged him to get training. In the last three years, I have seen the same positive impact in his personal life and ministry that I observed in my own. He has moved from one who dreaded personal counseling to one who embraces it as part of his pastoral ministry. His preaching has progressed from addressing only the first step of the gospel, salvation, to truly feeding and tending and developing the sheep.

  2. John Freeman

    This finding makes incredible sense. Counseling involves both engaging the heart of another and embracing the process of getting to know another’s pain and our natural response to it, so that the gospel can make deeper inroads. These skills are not natural to most pastors, especially, when the pursuit of knowledge and theology can actually serve to keep one from people and, sadly, be a place to hide from one’s own ‘stuff’ . If, during seminary training, students are encouaged to look at their own hearts and discover what might get in the way of implementing the gospel in their own lives, not only will others benefit, but they can be freed up to love and serve God and others better. They not only become more self aware (and non-self-aware pastors/counselors are extremely dangerous)—- they are able to take the theortical in theology and make it practical in the lives of those to whom they minister.

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