Traditional pastoral counseling Essay
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A final area of church support in the secular arena is that of traditional pastoral counseling. This counseling area, usually conducted in private and based in personal trust relationships between the church’s pastor and the congregants, includes ministry for life events. Bereavement counseling, marriage counseling (both pre-marriage counseling and counseling for relationship difficulties), career counseling and one-on-one discussion about difficulties such as substance abuse and physical or mental health are all appropriate and common areas of support for the church pastor.
Moore discusses the appropriateness of pastoral counseling in the area of bereavement support. Her justification of the pastor in bereavement support is simple. The clergy holds a distinct advantage over professional health counselors because parishioners are more likely to contact their pastor when faced with bereavement and grieving. Spiritual counseling is part of the clergy’s responsibility to the congregation, for which, there is neither cost nor stigma attached. Moreover the relationship is based on trust.
Typically, parishioners do not seek the services of other professionals concerning issues of death, illness and emotional adjustment, if they believe the spiritual counseling they have received has helped them (Moore, 48). In other words, the area of bereavement counseling is an area where the most natural and comfortable place for provision is within the church, with the pastor. African Americans have a unique view of death and dying which makes treatment of these issues within the church, the most central of Black institutions, appropriate.
Moore summarizes African-American beliefs and responses to death and bereavement: African-Americans are more accepting and less fearful of death than other American ethnic groups; the view of death is often reflected in African-American visual and musical arts as well as poetry; and the continued exposure of African-Americans to higher death rates, both from natural causes and from violence, significantly strengthens the belief in the afterlife (Moore, 50).
The Black church has particular rituals and forms of worship which deal with death and dying, which make the church the best place to deal with grief and bereavement counseling within the community, rather than the formal mental health care system which may be preferred by those who do not belong with a church (Moore, 56).
LITERATURE REVIEW CONCLUSION
A review of the extant literature on the impact of the Black church on its congregant’s secular lives reveals a range of formal programs, informal processes, traditions and practices, which spring from within the community and come from outside, which are limited to the congregants or offered community-wide, which touch all aspects of the Black church member’s life. Historically, the Black church has been pressed into service as a care provider for a marginalized and underserved population; if the church did not provide medical care, mental health support, economic self-support and learning and literacy programs, no one would.
Today, Black churches continue to offer these services, either on their own or through collaboration with public and private foundations, research groups and other helpers. These programs are often more successful than those offered outside the church, because of the perception by church goers that the providers understand their needs and feel an affinity for their history and a sensitivity for their cultural norms.
The Black church also serves as an extended family to its members, strengthening the Black community as a whole and offering a shield against the onslaught of historical disadvantages, racism and the problems caused by low socioeconomic status. It serves as an assistant to parents, offering youth programs that range from helping teen parents to helping children get into and attend college. The literature shows that the Black church is, overall, very responsive to the secular needs of its members as well as the spiritual.