Research report: a grounded theory description of pastoral counseling.

  • Loren L Townsend
  • Published 2011 in The journal of pastoral care & counseling : JPCC


Historically, clerical paradigms of ordained ministry have defined pastoral counseling. However, these fail to describe pastoral counselors in the complex social, theological and medical contexts in which they now work. This study asks the question: How do pastoral counselors in clinical practice describe what is uniquely "pastoral" about the counseling they offer clients? Grounded theory was used to propose a preliminary description and an intermediate theory of how pastoral counselors interpret "pastoral." Eighty-five pastoral counselors were selected for the study over a four year period using criteria to assure maximum variation. Interviews and pastoral identity statements were collected and coded, and theoretical models were organized using NVIVO, a computer assisted qualitative design and analysis software (CAQDAS) package. Results suggest that pastoral counselors share some common ideas regarding "pastoral identity" and clinical practice. How pastoral counselors interpret "pastoral" is highly context sensitive and varies widely.

Cite this paper

@article{Townsend2011ResearchRA, title={Research report: a grounded theory description of pastoral counseling.}, author={Loren L Townsend}, journal={The journal of pastoral care & counseling : JPCC}, year={2011}, volume={65 3-4}, pages={1-15} }