Some pastors may train to provide counseling services to congregation and community members. They may opt to complete a certificate or master’s degree program to prepare for this type of work. Through a program like this, they will learn about human development, psychology, counseling techniques, and, depending on the program, religious concepts as they apply to therapy.
Pastors who serve churches or religious organizations may work with couples seeking marriage counseling, those with addictions, or other individuals seeking therapy with a spiritual perspective. They will assess these individuals’ needs and devise a treatment plan. They will then conduct therapy sessions on a one on one, family, or group basis.
While not all pastors who provide counseling services through a church or religious organization will be licensed, some may opt to pursue this credential. Specific eligibility requirements will depend on where you live and whether you choose to specialize in an area such as marriage and family counseling. For more information about the governing boards for licensure in your state, you can check with the National Board for Certified Counselors.
Since pastoral counselors will be working closely with community or congregation members to address a number of spiritual, emotional, or behavioral issues, they will need excellent communication and listening skills. In addition, they must have a great deal of patience and compassion to guide these individuals through the therapy process.