Pastoral counselors are trained in both psychology and theology to provide psychological as well as spiritual guidance to patients and families in health care settings. They perform a variety of tasks with their main responsibility being to counsel patients and family members. They also work with hospital staff to provide ethical and spiritual direction and instruction on religious practices and beliefs.
To become a pastoral counselor, requirements vary significantly by state. Successful students typically complete the following steps:
After you’ve completed the necessary education, it would be wise to look into membership with the American Association of Pastoral Counselors (AAPC). Membership with the AAPC is beneficial for those who wish to “increase their professional capacity to provide spiritually informed and integrated care.” Membership will also help those looking to continue their education, increase networking opportunities, and even provide specialized in-service training in pastoral counseling.
A pastoral counseling degree will allow you to provide advice and support in a religious context, and to help people with crises of faith as well as general issues. A pastoral counselor’s job requires them to:
According to the AAPC, “pastoral counseling accounts for three million hours of treatment annually in institutional and community-based settings.” Visit our salary guide to learn more about your earning potential as a Pastoral Counselor.
The following degrees are closely related to a master’s degree program in pastoral counseling, often allowing you to pursue a career in this field or others:
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