Pastoral Counselling

Pastoral counselling

Isaiah 60:1-7 “arise shine….for behold darkness covers the people

Matthew 5:14&15 “you are the light of the world

1 Samuel 3:3-4 “and the lamp of God went out in the temple of the Lord where the ark of the Lord was and Samuel laid down to sleep that he Lord called Samuel…”

Do not come into ministry to do the usual, the lamp of God went out in the temple Eli did nothing about it and Samuel the little boy was asleep sensitive and God called Samuel who answered.

Pastor light a fire in everyone you meet, stimulate a desire for God

The church has failed people and the people are now looking to professionals to counsel and help them.

This is a practice that integrates pastoral and theological concepts into its framework. What sets it apart is the way faith, spirituality and theology are incorporated into the model.

Pastoral counselling is a unique form of psychotherapy which uses spiritual resources as well as psychological understanding for healing and growth. It is provided by certified pastoral counselors who are not only mental health professionals but who have also had in-depth religious and/or theological training.

Pastoral care: this is generally used as a term referring to the practices pastors do to shepherd or care for individuals in their local congregation. For example, some aspects of pastoral care could include hospital visitation, visits to elderly church members, pastoral counseling, prayer with church members, premarital counseling, weddings, funerals, baby dedications, or similar practices.

Pastoral care is generally based on the ideas of the pastor or elder as a shepherd in Scripture. For example, Jesus called Himself the Good Shepherd who lays down His life for the sheep: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11).

In 1 Peter 5:2-3, Peter also teaches, “shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.” His aspects of “shepherding” include willing leadership, eager service, and living as an example to those under one’s care.

When the apostle Paul gave his final words to the church leaders from Ephesus, he shared, “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood” (Acts 20:28). Good pastoral care includes paying careful attention to one’s own life as well as to the details of those a pastor serves. A pastor is to oversee and care for the church with great love.

Another aspect of pastoral care is the commitment to sacrifice one’s own life and desires on behalf of the sheep. Jesus set the example by laying down His life for His sheep. While a pastor must care for his own life, he also sacrifices his own desires many times in order to serve others.

Pastoral care is often considered as encompassing all of the areas of pastoral ministry outside of preaching and teaching. However, preaching is a primary method of pastoral care as well. How can a shepherd best care for his sheep? He must feed them well. He must protect them from harmful ways through warning against false teachings. He must show love in both word and deed, offering a voice of hope to those he leads. Check academia



People have long turned to religious leaders for support, guidance, and solutions related to mental health issues, and ministers of all denominations traditionally provide counseling to members of their religious communities. Pastoral counseling was born from the idea that, although this kind of support is valuable, some issues may require a more professional level of help.


  • Children
  • Adolescents
  • Youth/young adults
  • Adults (early, midlife & late)


Everyone!  Including the pastor/counselor.

Three reasons:

  • (1) Creation – because we are human & need     truth outside ourselves
  • (2) Fall
  • (3) Redemption – the heart is deceitful, sinful


Ask yourself this question: do I have what it takes to counsel this person?

  • Knowledge
  • Experience
  • Expertise


COVID-19 came with a lot of challenges

  • Safety/risk of infection
  • Fear of death from infection
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Lock down
  • Economic loss
  • Loss of loved ones
  • Uncertainties in social interactions
  • Altered life styles
  • Increased internet exposure – various learnings from social media that may not be fact particularly in the younger members of the congregation.


  • Depression –9% = 7,079,819
  • Anxiety –7% = 4,894,557
  • Loneliness –7%
  • Divorce in Northern Nigeria is among the highest in West Africa
  • Drug abuse – 15% = 14 million adults use opioids, weeds and cough mixtures
  • Suicide – Nigeria ranked 15th in the world


  • GDP: Monetary value of a nation’s total economic activity/the monetary value of all goods and services produced within a nations geographic boarders
  • Education: The ability to identify, understand, interpret, create, communicate and compute using printed and written materials associated with varying contexts. Adult literacy rate = 65.1% – Males = 70.9% – Female = 59.3%; Kaduna 58.1%
  • Health: 1948 is described as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Life expectancy –2 years – Male – 54.7 years – Female – 55.7 years
  • Security: Armed robbery, Kidnapping & Persecution
  • Stress


  • Childhood
  • Adolescence
  • Twenties & Thirties
  • Forties & Fifties
  • The Later years




According to a 1992 Gallup poll, 66% of survey participants reported a preference for a mental health professional who held spiritual beliefs and values, while 81% of people seeking mental health treatment stated a preference for a counselor with values similar to their own. This data may explain why some people seek help from religious leaders or counselors who share their faith. Pastoral counseling may offer benefit to people of all backgrounds, but it may be best suited to those seeking mental health support or guidance grounded in a theological or spiritual perspective.

People might choose pastoral counseling when they:

  • Want to approach mental health issues from a faith-based perspective
  • Are not comfortable in a formal counseling setting
  • Are facing end-of-life issues and want to discuss faith based perspectives on death and dying
  • Have concerns that secular counselors will not validate their religious beliefs
  • Have had negative experiences with secular mental health professionals
  • Who are coping with the loss of a loved one and wish to understand faith-based existential concepts



As pastoral counseling can provide specialized treatment to those seeking such but also meet more general counseling needs, it can be considered a versatile mode of therapy. Pastoral counselors are uniquely positioned to offer a professional level of mental health treatment, thanks to graduate training and education, while also providing spiritual guidance from a faith-based perspective.

Pastoral counseling can offer support to those seeking family, relationship, premarital, or individual counseling. More specifically, it may be helpful to individuals working through or challenged by any of the following situations:

  • Spiritual assessment
  • Grief and loss
  • Issues related to chronic or terminal illness
  • Conflicts around spiritual beliefs
  • Mental health issues directly linked to religious beliefs or doctrine
  • Crises of faith
  • Reintegration into community life after institutionalization or incarceration
  • Adjusting to mental health support when wary of the system



Pastoral counselors can range from ordained religious figures like priests, chaplains, and rabbis to practicing psychotherapists who provide what some call pastoral psychotherapy. They might come from any religious background and can be found in multiple settings—congregations, counseling centers, inpatient programs, and private practice, among others.

Training and education is available for those who wish to practice pastoral counseling in various formats. There are pastoral counselors who are not credentialed that actively provide support to people in need. There are also pastoral counselors who are more affiliated with the religious aspect of their role and have less training in mental health treatment. But a vast majority of pastoral counselors seek certification.


While some pastoral counselors have not had extensive training in the diagnosis of mental health concerns, many pastoral counselors are licensed mental health practitioners who are able to diagnose and treat any number of issues. Additionally, certified pastoral counselors are trained in mental health assessment and suicide/homicide assessment, and they are typically able to diagnose the warning signs and symptoms of other serious psychiatric concerns.


Although pastoral counseling is a well-established and viable mode of therapy, there are some possible areas for concern that mental health professionals and people seeking treatment may want to keep in mind. Some pastoral counselors view the therapeutic relationship as one that is multi-faceted and stretching across various settings and roles. Even for those who foster a private counseling environment, outside encounters may be inevitable when working with someone who is a member of the same congregation.

Another possible concern has to do with the role of confidentiality for clergy and where it differs from confidentiality requirements for other mental health professionals. Pastoral counselors may encounter ethical dilemmas if the two bodies that govern them do not agree when it comes to keeping information confidential. Some states have differing laws when it comes to pastoral duties to their parishioners as compared to the duties of mental health professionals and protected health information. Counselors may wish to educate themselves in the particular laws and regulations that speak to their role as an ordained religious leader and to those meant to guide their role as a mental health professional.



Man is a tripartite being:

  • Spirit he contacts God
  • Soul he contacts the intellectual
  • Body he contacts the physical

Man inter-functions on all levels and can have challenges relation to all levels

Concern: there is a growing army of people who prefer to speak with professional counsellors than with pastors. Why?

  • Issues of confidentiality
  • Ability/knowledge base of the pastor to effectively counsel on all subject areas
  • More focus on bible that is perceived to be used to beat upon the people

Current challenges that require counselling:

Spiritual Psychological Physical
Relationship with God Emotions (anger, depression, anxiety, worry, sadness) Pornography & other sexual challenges
Sin and guilt Grief


Other general areas

  1. Financial
  2. Work
  3. Marriage & family
  4. Politics


Problems Working with parents Responsibilities


Abuse – physical, sexual

Developmental problems

Adjustments problems

Learning and communication


See and respect their position

Be sensitive to parents needs

Be aware of family dynamics


Counseling the children

Counseling the parents

Making referrals




Preadolescence – 10 -13 years

Adolescence – 14 – 18 years

Post adolescence – 18 – early twenties


Experimentation, peer influence, rebellion, crisis

physical changes

Sexual changes

Interpersonal changes

Changing values morals and religious beliefs

Move to independence

The need to acquire skills and  build self esteem

Concerns about the future


Counselling parents – giving support and encouragement, family counselling, help with setting limits, spiritual guidance

Counselling teenagers – build trust & rapport, setting limits, establish clear guidelines and confidentiality, group counselling.

Building a spiritual foundation

Building family stability

Helping maturity




Competency – problem solving skills, emotional intelligence, self-management skills, interpersonal skills, spiritual skills.

Independence – developing self-sufficiency, building an identity, finding values & coping effectively, intimacy, direction, spirituality.


These people often get locked into life patters that set their direction


Clarifying problems to bring awareness

Giving support

Helping people take action

Developing skills

Education and encouragement

Pointing to models

Help people find mentors

Dream development

Encourage parental patience and prayer

Giving spiritual support







Physical changes – aging body vs the need to keep a youthful appearance

Psychological changes – lifestyle, priorities, boredom, fear, reappraisal of where one is and where they want to go.

Vocational changes – looking again at their occupation and wanting to change

Marriage and family changes – adjusting to growing children, the state of the marriage, making changes, reality of changing sexuality


Inner turmoil

Changes in behaviour (less/more spiritual)

Alteration in attitudes to work

Marital struggles


Encourage spiritual awareness

Working with families

Focus on specific problems

Educating the people in this age group (seminars/workshops)

Helping them anticipate what is coming

Encourage outreach




Problems WHY HELP
Physical – appearance, system (digestive, cardiovascular), sexual

Intellectual – memory

Emotional – depression, anxiety, fears,

Economic – reduced income

Interpersonal – changing relationships

Self esteem – declining self confidence



Negative attitude to old age


Family counselling

Spiritual counselling

Group counselling

Environmental counselling – helping people cope and make changes

Prevention – stimulate realistic planning, attitudes, education and spiritual growth.




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