Saint James College
an exceptionally specialized field

As the name implies, Pastoral
Counseling involves counseling by
pastors...or other trained spiritual
workers.  Providers of this service most
typically involve minister, priests, rabbis,
imams and, recently, qualified chaplains.
As the wonderful picture above at the right implies, Pastoral Counseling is a mandate from the
Gospels where were are called to be "Good Shepherds" to those we have the ability to protect
Mount Saviour Monastery.  

The Word "Pastoral" must be accompanied by "Psychological":

The title of this service must be:  Psycho-Spiritual.  A very serious -- and growing -- problem
within religious circles is the number of clergypeople who feel that their
divinity training
somehow qualifies them to become counselors.  Nothing is further from the truth!  It is
dangerous and completely unethical for people in ministry who lack the proper training to
accept clients who request psychological counseling!


1)  It is a horrible breech of ethics to keep a suffering person in pain one single day longer
than is necessary.

2)  Ministers, priests, rabbis, etc., frequently tend to brush aside indicators of psychological
trauma and, instead, tell the distressed client to pray...that God will either heal the person...or
else the suffering is somehow "God's will"!

Regarding #1, above, if you don't have the training required to assist with the underlying
problem, you then become a very active (culpable, guilty) part of the problem.

In terms of #2, as students will learn throughout Saint James College Seminary's education
programs, it is
never God's will that we suffer!!!  How could any reasonable person worship a
"God" who desires that people feel pain?!  Such a being would
not be a "God" but, rather,
would be a
monster!  Frankly, it is vile for ministers with no training as psychological
counselors to tell people that their suffering will continue if they continue to be "bad"
Christians, or to continue to be "so sinful"!

Saint James College Seminary's online Pastoral Counseling certificate and degree programs
are helping clergy throughout the United States, Canada, and many other countries, to gain
at least rudimentary counseling skills.  While the
idea is most certainly to help heal troubled minds,
souls, and lives...the bottom line is not to make
matters worse.  

We are firm believers in words ascribed to

First, let me do no harm!

Hippocrates of Kos (460 BCE - 377 BCE) was an
ancient Greek physician who's wisdom and spiritual
ethics ushered in an entirely new era of medical
and psychological practice.  He is famous for
authoring his
Hippocratic Oath, which continues to be used to this day.  Hippocrates taught
that, while doctors and counselors absolutely should
try to help a patient heal...the most
important thing to keep in mind during the process is to
never, never, never, ever cause any
additional pain!

We suggest that our students indelibly imprint this rule on their consciousnesses!
Psychospiritual is a word that
we ask our students to learn,
and learn well

Saint James College Seminary students
who study Pastoral Counseling are
offered a curriculum that aims to blend,
or meld, two branches of human

  • Ministry / Divinity
  • Modern Psychology

Please note that we did not use the term
Mental Health, which refers to people
with serious and persistent mental
illness.  This can include schizophrenia,
bi-polar disorder, clinical depression,
sociopathic disorder etc.  These can
only be treated by psychiatrists and
social workers.  Conventional
counseling and Pastoral Counseling are
totally, and we mean totally, ineffective
with mental illness.

We do, however, assist our students in
utilizing the combined skillsets of
ministry and psychology.  As a member
of the clergy, you will have only a lay
knowledge of psychology and
psychotherapy.  But, you will learn
enough to work with people who come
to you with emotional and situational
pain, using
psychospiritual techniques
designed specifically for pastors.
Why do people use Pastoral
Counselors in the first place?

In truth, people often seek out the counsel
of their spiritual leader for no other reason
than the (usually-true) belief that he or she
will be more affordable than a trained social
worker, psychotherapist, or family
counselor.  This is no way negates the
requirement that the  clergyperson
must be
qualified to counsel clients seeking
assistance with troubling emotional or
personal issues!

Often, however, people will choose pastoral
counseling over other available options due
to the belief that the minister, priest, or
rabbi will be more sensitive, kinder, and
more ethical than a secular counselor.  
While there is no particular evidence that
the "spiritual professional" will in fact be
more ethical or understanding, many
people cling to this notion.
 If we accept
counseling clients, it is our responsibility
not to disappoint them!

The person seeking counseling often faces
highly-troubling concerns about "the
meaning of life" and how to cope with the
often-painful situations that it brings.  
Because pastoral counselors are seen as
holding "special knowledge" about spiritual
and cosmic matters,
we are in a unique
position to work with clients drawing
upon tools available in the worlds of
both psychology and theology.
Pastoral Counseling fits well with existing self-help groups!
special opportunity for ministers, priests, and rabbis to assist those struggling under the weight
of addiction issues.
Our Online Pastoral Counseling training is available to you in a variety of formats:
We offer online studies leading to Certified Pastoral Counseling status, bachelors and masters degrees in
Pastoral Counseling, and also online Pastoral Counseling studies as continuing education for graduates
of our online ordination, online Certified Professional Chaplin, and MSW - Social Worker programs.
at a Glance