Pastoral Counseling in recent years has made an effort to adapt psychoanalytic procedures to the solution of some of the problems of parishioners . Such efforts have been in part an empirical venture, proceeding by rule of thumb, learning by experience, clinical work
and-group discussions’ fed-. back reporting and analysis. All of which definitely has pro vided knowledge and empirical information towards counseling progress . However, such has also led to some confusion between the role of the counselor and psychotherapist. This course is intended to provide none of the above, per se, but to provide the rudimentary steps to an emphasis on attitude of the counselor, from the Christian perspective, and the rudiments of principles applied to Pastoral Counseling – towards a nouthetic perspective and its principles. If there is a “psychology” to be involved, I submit that the psychological factors are all directly related to the Christian Evangelistic theory applied with and of counseling. The point being that God’s psychology-and very essence-is one of love, grace, blessings, and forgiveness through Christ.. Jet’s call this “Redemptive Psychology.”
Pastoral Counseling is also Pastoral Care for the “wounded” parishioner; and, thusly, the counselor has to be prepared to identify with, sympathize with-to have empathy with the wound and the wounded . As God, our Creator, assumes our frame of reference and enters into our human situation(s) of being finite and, in some cases, estranged, we who are Christians find that God shares with us in such situations through His grace, Christ, and the Holy Spirit, working in our behalf ‘that provides us HOPES.
Thomas C. Oden’s writing of “Care of Souls in the Classic Tradition” relates to us the correlation of empathy to the Christian Good News of God’s love in the following statement:Empathy is the process of placing oneself in the frame of reference of another,perceiving the world as the other perceives it, sharing his or her world imaginatively.Incarnation means that God assumes our frame of reference, entering into our human sit uation of finitude and estrangement, sharing our human condition even unto death.”1
Empathy, then, becomes, in thesis, the basic theological tool of Pastoral Counseling and its practices, for empathy is rudimentary. Why? Thomas Oden states: “When the troubled person finds himself or herself under the care of someone with accurate empathy, someone
who seems able to enter another’s perceptual framework, he or she experiences a profoundly liberating feeling of being known. being understood. Empathy is the precondition of all therapeutic effectiveness. “
As God enters into our human situations, so too must the Christian Counselor-but without being neurotic, yet also participating in…entering in…the wounded ‘s wound. God does the same thing, for He participates in our human situations without Himself being or becoming estranged. But, how does the Christian/Pastoral Counselor enter into the world of the wounded without becoming estranged, neurotic, hung-out, and strung-out within the wound itself? FAITII IS THE ANSWER By this I mean first of all that the sincere Christian can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Phil. 1-:13).
Secondly, the Christian/Pastoral Counselor who has diligently done his or her sincere effort of learning to have empathy can with faith (theologically) and in procedural faithfulness enter into the wounded’s wound. Pastoral Counseling has been one to follow the intuition of pietism in. placing its emphasis, for the most part, on personal experience, often to the omission of historical experience, reason, tradition, and Scripture. It is not this writer’s intention to neglect Scripture, reason, nor historical or traditional experiences, but to include all of such with a nouthethic perspective.
It is towards this nouthetic perspective that the following course will concentrate its content upon the basis of foundational development of empathy as the Number One tool ofChristian/Pastoral Counseling and Care.
The first and most basic task required of the Christian/Pastoral Counselor is to seek, to know, to learn, and to practice empathy. Therefore, this man called the Christian/Pastoral Counselor must clarify his inner self; define his varied inner life and its movements-