Description: In this foundational course, we develop an understanding of critical dimensions of competent and compassionate pastoral care and counseling today. This course has five primary foci. First, we consider central theoretical perspectives that may ground this large ministerial field. Second, we study concrete methods and skills for effective pastoral care. Third, we examine some challenging realities to which all pastoral caregivers will likely respond at some point, including domestic violence, loss, and suicide. Fourth, we look ahead and consider next steps in developing as a pastoral caregiver. Finally, and new this semester, we will consider in some explicit ways how some understandings of human experience grounded largely in neuroscience may support and enhance study and practice in pastoral care. ( This last portion is related to an STM grant from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Dialogue on & Science, Ethics, and Religion.) Throughout the course, we explore pastoral care/counseling from contemporary pastoral-theological, psychological, and cultural perspectives, as well as select perspectives from neuroscience. We also consider the specific roles and possible strategies of the pastoral caregiver and the faith community in supporting individuals and communities as they harness strengths and resources to negotiate challenges and create or maintain stability and well-being. This course includes lecture, readings, discussions, and extensive role play exercises.
Science areas: Neuroscience and psychologyPastoral Theology (Kelley)