Studies in pastoral care shows that pastors are usually the first professionals congregation members turn to when they experience difficulties. Research also shows that marriage and family issues rank as one of the top two categories that pastors are asked to respond to. This course will equip pastors and counselors with concepts and skills to minister effectively to couples experiencing marital difficulties, integrating both biblical principles and family systems theory. Students will learn to assess the immediate situation and possible generational issues in formulating their response, as well as recognizing when to refer. Students will also be challenged to deepen their ability to be self-reflective and how to use this as they counsel couples.
Immigrant populations have increased in number and presence in the United States. They have been part of the history of this country since its origins. Theological reflection and the practice of a Christian ministry need to respond to these changes in US society. This course will reflect on the experience of immigrants in the US and the factors that characterize the experiences of immigrant groups in this country. A special emphasis will be given to theological and biblical reflections that will prepare seminarians for a ministry that considers the presence and contributions of immigrant groups and families in our communities.
Our faith and spirituality are interwoven in our everyday lives and thus most of the concerns counselees bring into the pastoral counseling relationship not only refer to emotional and relational issues but pose questions, challenges and possibilities for their faith development and spiritual journeys. Since pastoral counseling seeks to address the emotional, relational and spiritual dimensions of people's lives, it requires a greater knowledge, sensitivity and ability to reflect critically on the connections and boundaries between faith, spirituality and counseling. Thus this course will address the use of faith based resources in the counseling relationship. Throughout the semester the Seminarian will explore a variety of topics related to the intersection between faith and counseling which will serve to distinguish when faith resources serve to strengthen or hinder the counseling relationship in a variety of situations. Topics will also include the development of faith through the life cycle, the counselee's and counselor's spiritual and faith journeys as critical components of the counseling process, and issues of gender, race, ethnicity, and religious diversity and their impact on issues and concerns brought into counseling.
Independent reading set up by consultation between professor and advanced student. Specific objectives leading to deeper insights into counseling theory and practice are pursued in regular conference. Enrollment by permission of professor.