What is Pastoral Care?

As Wikipedia puts it, pastoral care is an ancient model of emotional and spiritual support that can be found in all cultures and traditions. A pastoral caregiver such as a minister or a lay chaplain typically accompanies people in the midst of their sorrow, anxiety, and pain, as well as their joy, celebration, and triumph. Essentially, the goal of pastoral care is to ensure that no one need walk their journey alone, to provide a listening ear to people when they need it.

Although most ministers are not trained to be mental health counselors, they are trained in the art of pastoral care — spiritual, emotional, relational and practical wholistic accompaniment and care. Pastoral care is a ministry of presence: rather than telling a person what to believe or giving them advice, the minister meets the person where they are and holds the space for them to be heard and tap into the deep resource of wisdom that resides within them. Good pastoral care meets you where you are and seeks to incorporate your spirituality and theology rather than convert you to a way of seeing the world.

Whatever your spiritual beliefs (or lack thereof), I am available to accompany you on the journey of your life.

Pastoral care is not a replacement for mental health services and is typically a short-term relationship. Although pastoral caregivers typically have some counseling skills, such as active listening, grief, and peer support, most pastoral caregivers are not mental health professionals and do not have the skills to provide long-term therapy. Rather, a pastoral caregiver may refer a seeker to additional services, such as mental health, peer support, or social services, as appropriate.

WhY Seek Pastoral Care?

Pastoral care appeals to people for a wide variety of reasons, including life transitions, family conflict, existential crises, vocational and life discernment, and spiritual and theological counseling. In essence, you may want to seek pastoral anytime you feel you might benefit from having a listening ear. If you find yourself in the midst of a major life change, in need of an empathetic ear, or are seeking deepening in your spirituality, pastoral care might be right for you.

What Training Have You Received?

Every fellowshipped Unitarian Universalist minister completes basic pastoral care training while in seminary and is expected to complete one unit of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE), an intense summer-long or extended semester intensive in pastoral care, usually in a health care environment such as a hospital, nursing home, or hospice.

In addition to my one required unit of CPE, I completed three additional units of CPE during a year-long Chaplain Residency at the University of Louisville Hospital. In addition, I am a practitioner and educator in Emotional CPR (eCPR) and have received training in Intentional Peer Support, meaning I have extensive training in how to listen to people in the midst of emotional crisis. I also have specialized training as a movement chaplain, the practice of chaplaincy and pastoral care within social justice movements, and as an Animal Chaplain, a person who provides pastoral care to those who need presence and space to express emotions surrounding their animal companions.

Discover the benefits of pastoral care now by booking a FREE consultation with Rev. Chris!

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