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That day, the decision I faced became crystal clear to me. It was around the time that Kaylah entered my world that I taught my first college course overseas. As I was preparing to teach a marriage and family course in India, it dawned on me that our two cultures were very different. But without denying our vast differences, my host reassured me. How right he was. Hurting relationships are the same regardless of culture, age, religion or sexual orientation.

I remember when the AIDS epidemic first became public in the s. Some people of religious faith actually stated that AIDS victims deserved the outcome as punishment for their lifestyle.

Thank goodness. How, then, could there still be any possibility of debate in the 21st century over whether we should discriminate against our clients? Our concept of human rights as counselors is that all people deserve the same treatment, regardless of worldview, religion, gender, age or creed. Our modern view of equality has been evolving for decades, yet even counselors have not yet perfected it in practice.

Just in the past decade or less, there have been several highly publicized court cases in which graduate students have refused to work with gay clients and suffered academic consequences because of their beliefs. Supporters of these students lauded their bravery and commitment to their religion. Even though I am a person of faith, I cannot see why this type of irresponsibility to clients should be lauded. Gandhi and Mother Teresa also demonstrated a seeming lack of interest in religious pedigree. Instead, they helped the people who came to them.

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Sadly, the three lawsuits from academia that I noted are just the ones that made the news. I suspect that many more therapists are practicing discrimination without the public becoming aware. In fact, the real reason is often a personal belief system rather than a question of competence. There is no way to tell how much of this type of referral or redirecting of client goals happens in our profession, but if my anecdotal experiences as a clinician, supervisor, professor and public figure in the field are any measure, the answer is a lot.

Under Standard A.


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In fact, Standard A. The key word here is not diversity but rather promote. We are actively to promote diversity, not actively run away from it. For any reader who thinks that I am not sensitive to the importance of religion, please bear with me. But we must also recognize that many discriminatory traditions have their roots in religious teachings. He made similar comments about mixed-race marriage, again justifying them weakly through religious teachings.

Refusing to see clients based simply on sexual orientation is no different. Some religious therapists have defended discriminatory practice by arguing that equating racism with clinical treatment of gay couples is comparing apples and oranges. But, first, a brief tangent. It would be disingenuous to say that counselors never force a worldview on a client. Of course we do. The difference between this worldview and that of the anti-gay worldview, however, is that this worldview is based on objective research, not moral code or religious teaching.

Using methamphetamine destroys tooth enamel, leads to degenerative behaviors and can eventually kill the user. Alcohol abuse changes brain structure, destroys the liver and leads to degenerative lifestyle and potentially death, not to mention a host of other social ills. As for a religious argument against homosexuality, there is no scientific evidence that being gay, transsexual, bisexual, etc.

Many years ago, a religious group, knowing I am a person of faith, asked me to do a seminar addressing why homosexuals would not be good parents. It would be unethical to promote such a baseless argument. Academic integrity demands that as professional counselors, we pursue what we know. We must be driven by facts, not opinions and preferences. Empathizing and working with a diverse population does not mean that a counselor must sacrifice her or his own position. We are free to think what we want, engage in our own religious practices and beliefs, and live our lives as we choose. During this time, I have also traveled the world.

I can easily do that without making any value statement about the culture itself, and even though I have personally adopted many customs and preferences from around the world, I have done so voluntarily. My preferences are irrelevant when working in another country. Our professional ethic simply means that we will not thrust our belief systems upon our clients any more than we would try to sell our clients a car, recruit them into a political party or manage their retirement accounts.

What we cannot do is make choices that are at odds with wanting to work as a counselor, such as simultaneously wanting to function as a missionary who proselytizes clients into our personal belief system. I occasionally work with individuals who have been mandated to treatment.

Ethics, religion and diversity - Counseling Today

The response to this little book has been both surprising and deeply gratifying — first, that it sold enough that the publisher wanted a revised edition and second, that it continues to sell about as many copies each year as it did in its first and consequently is still in print. What I find encouraging about steady sales of a book is that it suggests that it continues to meet a need, that fact being verified by Nigerian, Philippine and Korean editions subsequently being published.

I am humbled and deeply thankful that what I hear from many, in a number of countries around the world, is that this model serves them well in the uniqueness of their culture. Preface to First Edition With over three hundred different English language books on pastoral care and counseling currently in print, it is quite reasonable to ask why one more is needed. An adequate justification for a new book must be based upon the demonstration of both the importance of the subject matter and the unique contribution that the book will make.

Let me briefly state, therefore, why I think this present book is both important and unique. Since you are reading this preface, you probably need no further convincing about the importance of pastoral counseling.

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And yet, this is the place to begin. The importance of pastoral care and counseling is grounded in the centrality of the proclamation of the Word of God in Christian ministry. While this fundamental nature of proclamation would probably be readily acknowledged by most clergy, the common understanding of what this means is too narrow. We tend to equate proclamation with preaching, although, more correctly understood, it involves much more than the mere imparting of information and includes a much broader range of activities than preaching.

Proclamation involves not only a communication of an event but also an actualization of this event. Proclamation delivers or makes real what it talks about, and it does this in the present moment and experience of the one who receives the proclamation. While this is the essence of all good preaching, it should also be the foundation of a broad range of other pastoral activities. Pastoral counseling should never be a matter of simply preaching to someone after hearing his or her story. Rather, it involves relating the Word to specific needs and life experiences and embodying it in what could be described as a living relationship of loving service.

It is a form of proclamation that often cannot be performed equally well by any other act of ministry, and for this reason it has had a central and important role in the long tradition of Christian soul care. The importance of pastoral counseling is reinforced by the fact that for most pastors it is not an optional activity but one which the needs and demands of their parishioners regularly necessitate.

Research indicates that the average pastor spends between six and eight hours each week in counseling.

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Very few pastors are able totally to avoid counseling responsibilities, and those that do seem generally to be on the staff of churches where others are providing these services. For the vast majority of pastors, some counseling responsibility is a given that cannot be avoided.


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The needs of their parishioners demand that they see people in counseling relationships, whether they are adequately prepared to do so or not. And how well prepared for counseling do most pastors judge themselves to be? In background research for the present volume only 13 percent of the pastors contacted reported that they felt adequately prepared for their counseling responsibilities; 87 percent reported a need for further training in pastoral counseling.

Hello Sal, Our church thoroughly enjoyed your message yesterday. It is a message that needs to be heard in every church.


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  • Autumn (third movement: Allegro).
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Too often people place a great importance on their opinions, but your message presented the timeless, biblical truths that God expects and requires in our lives to help us fulfill His purpose through the local church. I felt listened to and validated. You gave me hope and peace. Not a day goes by without me putting into practice one or more of your suggestions.

I thank the Lord for your gifts. Long Island, NY. What a powerful and timely message straight from the heart of God. We were very well fed!