Counselling Skills & Intervention

MS 3XI3/5XI5/6XI6

Winter 2024
Mon 9:00am - 10:50am

Regardless of our specific calling, in any position in ministry we will find ourselves in a potentially therapeutic dialogue with others. Accurate and empathic listening coupled with effective communication is a requisite in encouraging growth or development within any of our relationships. This course will train the student in the microskills leading to empathic listening and effective growth-producing communication which is applicable in any specialization. While laying the foundation for a ministry in pastoral counselling, it will also enhance for all students our dialogues within the church, and between the church and the world. This course will require a certain level of self-disclosure, at a level of comfort of the student, and will rely heavily on practicing these microskills in class in the roles of “counselor”, “counselee”, and observer. All students are expected to take turns in all roles. Assignments will focus on analyzing transcripts of the students own “sessions” with volunteers both inside and outside of class. Grading will be based not on providing the “perfect response”, but on the ability to observe and analyze your own skills, receive and apply feedback, and be able to reflect on how to improve your own communication further. Communicating compassion for ourselves and others, is the overarching goal. Lectures will also include a survey of other basic intervention skills for specific situations most likely to be encountered during therapeutic dialogues.

For advanced students (5X15/6XI6) additional reading and assignments are designed to explore in further depth the context, background and basic principles of pastoral counselling, specifically including the history of soul care and the relevance for integrating psychology and theology in pastoral counselling and chaplaincy. The final written project and presentation will allow the student to focus on one specific Christian practice intervention, and evaluate it from research, integrative, and ethical perspectives.

Specializations: Counselling and Spiritual Care, Church and Culture, Christian World View


  • To distinguish the goals and phases a therapeutic dialogue, the roles of “counselor” and “counselee”, and the language of microskills
  • To be able to correctly identify the different types of responses and interventions which might occur in dyadic communication or dialogue
  • To discriminate the kinds of responses and interventions that are helpful or not helpful in promoting growth and change, and in specific situations in the therapeutic relationship


  • To increase comfort with self-disclosure, within one’s own sense of safety and boundaries, and as appropriate to the assignments
  • To increasingly practice empathic listening skills and effective responses in all our relationships
  • To increase tolerance in hearing others’ pain and being open to the experience of one’s own pain.


  • To observe, identify, and demonstrate helpful versus non helpful responses in therapeutic dialogue
  • To demonstrate microskills in noticing, reflecting, and validating both content and feelings in a dialogue, in order to establish relationship, encourage deeper exploration and growth, and consolidate learnings
  • To demonstrate microskills in clarifying, confronting, using metaphors, and using authenticity, self-disclosure and immediacy to encourage growth and change