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A pastoral counselor is like a vessel between God and people. Therefore, his work is important and should be performed in the most ethical way. The aim of this paper is to present my own experience, needs and expectations. In addition, certain approaches to pastoral counseling will be offered.
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One of the most important skills of an effective pastoral counsellor is knowing and understanding personality patterns. This helps to find approaches to different people as well as to solve conflicts between them. Thus, Mels Carbonell (2008) distinguishes “D, I, S and C” personality types. In addition, the personality can be determined from two perspectives. First perspective is our real personality and second one is our masked behavior. People usually change both perspectives many times during the day. For example, people of the type “D’ are active, directing, driving, demanding, doing and decisive. The main motivation for them is challenge. Such people require different activities, opportunities for development, and freedom from the environment. A pastoral counselor working with these people needs to give direct answers, emphasize aims, provide some freedom for personal development and stick to business. A pastoral counselor can help them to understand that humans are important; relaxation is all right, some control is necessary, everybody has a director, and making conclusions can help other people understand them better. People of “I” type are active/human-oriented, impressing, inspiring, influencing, and interested in others. Their main motivation is recognition. They also have certain environmental needs, such as friendly relationships, possibilities to inspire and influence others as well as opportunities to express their ideas verbally. A pastoral counselor must behave as a friend or democratic manager, offer some social involvement, and recognize abilities. It is necessary to make people of this type understand that humanity is a virtue, time should be managed, and that it is importan to pay attention to details. People of type “C” are passive, task-focused, competent, careful and compliant. Their essential motivation is quality. They possess such environmental needs as defined assignments, enough time and resources to complete the tasks, explanations, insignificant risks, tasks that involve planning, and team participation. A counselor should offer them a supportive environment, clear operating standards and open door rules. People of this type have to learn that continuous support is unnecessary, detailed explanation is not always possible, and it is important to meet deadlines. Finally, humans of the type “S” are generally passive but people-oriented, shy, stable, submissive and specialist. Their essential motivation is security. Their primary environmental needs are certain specialization, determined work patterns, stability of situation and surroundings. A pastoral counselor must be relaxed, permit such kind of a parishioner to work in his/her own speed, respond to “how” questions, determine aims and ways of achieving them, as well as provide individual support. It is necessary to make these people learn that friendship is not everything, discipline is important, and that some change can give new possibilities (Carbonell, 2008). Capbonell’s approach is not typical for pastoral counseling. However, I believe that it can bring positive results because before explaining some biblical occurrences it is necessary to understand how to make a person respond to your questions and what things she/he is missing.
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Besides, I believe that it is also reasonable to remind others, particularly people that are in troubles, that God is with the afflicted. My task as a pastoral counselor is to give special grace of God to everybody who needs it. I embody a vessel between God and people, so I need to provide care in the most ethical way (Clinton & Hawkins, 2009). The first sign that God is working in a pastor is the spirit of authentic kindness. People feel it and come to him to get it. Apart from eempathy and authenticity, a good pastor must have knowledge and skills, including ability to present some biblical occurrences (Clinton & Hawkins, 2009). I believe that this approach of Clinton and Hawkins is reasonable. Thus, I would like to use it in my practice.
Charles Kollar (2011) offers another effective approach. He suggests solution-focused pastoral counseling. According to this approach, counseling should not be long-term. One or few sessions are enough. Besides, physiological manipulations are unnecessary for achieving significant results. It is more effective when a counselee finds solution on his/her own. The task of a pastoral counselor is to help to discover it quickly and effectively. The attention is focused on life opportunities without the problem. The counselee needs to understand how his/her life would be different without the influence of the problem. The main aim is a drastic healthy change through helping the person identify and work on solution with Lord’s intervention already present in his/her life (Kollar, 2011). I support Kollar’s approach and believe that it can really bring positive outcomes.
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Besides, a pastoral counselor should be a good listener because he usually has to listen to others than to talk during communication. Listeners need to remember that they do not possess the problem, so they do not have to take responsibility for its solving. During the communication, they should avoid judging, labeling and accusing a person who is talking. Another important recommendation is being open-minded with own thoughts and words (Peterson, 2007).
In addition, it is important for a pastoral counselor to be able to identify people with psychological disorders, such as mood disorders, personality disorders, disorders of childhood and anxiety disorders, and provide treatment if possible. Dealing with more difficult tasks, a counselor needs to help such individuals to find appropriate heath mental services (Johnson & Johnson, 2010).
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