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 is primarily designed to train the student in the microskills leading to empathic listening and effective growth-producing communication which is applicable in any ministry specialization. While supporting the effective skills required 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. Class assignments will focus on analyzing transcripts of the students’ own “sessions” with volunteers both inside and outside of class. Grading of these assignments 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.
The advanced student’s reading is 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. 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.
- To understand the goals and phases of pastoral counselling, and the microskills needed for the most effective pastoral therapeutic relationship
- To understand the history of soul care and the relevance of integrating psychology and theology in pastoral counselling
- To understand the different types of responses and interventions which might occur in pastoral counselling, including unique Christian practices that can also serve as clinical interventions
- To understand what kinds of responses and interventions are helpful or not helpful in promoting growth and change, in specific situations in the therapeutic relationship, and the ethical boundaries and guidelines for using specific Christian practices in counselling
- To know the evidence supporting the clinical use of Christian practices in counselling
- 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 and identify helpful versus non helpful responses in therapeutic dialogue
- To develop 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 develop microskills in clarifying, confronting, using metaphors, and using authenticity, self-disclosure and immediacy to encourage growth and change
- To become familiar with the professional literature and research on Christian practices in counseling, and conduct a literature review and appropriate analysis and evaluation of one specific Christian practice
- To present a 20-minute lecture/presentation on your research to a graduate level class in counselling