Pastoral Care & Counseling: Risky Business?
As the world changes and we become a litigious society, the seemingly innocent pastoral visit can become a dangerous thing.
When I have the opportunity to provide pastoral care for a church member (premarital counseling, advice for a big decision, etc.) things seem pretty cut and dry.
When I visit with a person who is not a member, however, things can get dicey. I have a Masters in Counseling Ministry and until recently, was a member of a national counseling organization. But that doesn't make me a professional counselor!
I make it clear that I am a pastoral care provider, not a Christian Counselor or even a Pastoral Counselor. Pastors are generally on safe ground if they take this approach. In addition, I came across 4 steps to take to make sure you're operating as a caring Pastor and not an unlicensed psychiatrist:
- Keep the Bible open and clearly in sight throughout each counseling session.
- Read from at least one Scripture reference during the counseling session.
- Assign Scriptural homework to the person being counseled.
- Begin and ending each counseling session with prayer.