Pastoral Counseling

Pastoral Counseling, Spiritual Direction and Healing Prayer with Fr. Josh Acton

What Is Pastoral Counseling?

Pastoral counseling is a unique form of counseling which uses spiritual resources as well as psychological understanding for healing and growth. It is provided by certified pastoral counselors, who are not only mental health professionals but who have also had in-depth religious and/or theological training. Across the nation, more than 3,000 pastoral counselors provide a variety of services, including treatment for persons with mental disorders; counseling for adults, adolescents, children, families and couples; substance abuse treatment; wellness programs; religious retreats; spiritual direction; clinical training; consultation to corporations; outreach preventive services in prisons, military settings and schools; and community education.

At any time, individuals, couples or families can be confronted by uncertainties and life experiences which threaten to exhaust emotional and spiritual resources. The loss of a loved one, parent-teen conflict, loss of job or the care of an elderly parent are just a few of life’s transitions and crises that can be depleting. While some individuals turn to a psychologist, social worker or psychiatrist, others want support and the opportunity to discuss their problems or illness in a spiritual context.

A national survey was conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Research, Inc. of Washington, D.C., to explore attitudes toward the role of spiritual values and beliefs in the treatment of mental and emotional problems. The report stated “that an overwhelming number of Americans [69 percent] recognize the close link between spiritual faith, religious values, and mental health, and would prefer to seek assistance from a mental health professional who recognizes and can integrate spiritual values into the course of treatment.” Religious communities are one of the principal gateways for individuals seeking assistance with depression, grief, marital conflict, substance abuse, family violence, juvenile delinquency and AIDS, among other issues and societal problems. However, most religious leaders have neither the time nor the training in psychotherapy to do extensive, in-depth work. If a situation or crisis requires more than a few informal sessions, it’s time to see a certified pastoral counselor.

What is Spiritual Direction?

Spiritual direction is a time-honored term for a conversation, ordinarily between two persons, in which one person consults another, more spiritually experienced person about the ways in which God may be touching her or his life, directly or indirectly. In our postmodern age, many people dislike the term “spiritual direction” because it sounds like one person giving directions, or orders, to another. They prefer “spiritual companionship,” “tending the holy,” or some other nomenclature. What we call it doesn’t make any real difference. The reality remains conversations about life in the light of faith. There was much to talk about, to sort out in the light of faith in those days when confusion in the Church became a daily reality.

Although spiritual direction has had a burst of new life, it is really quite ancient. Across both the Hebrew and the Christian Scriptures, we find people seeking spiritual counsel. The Queen of Sheba sought out the wisdom of Solomon. Jesus gave us examples in his conversations with Nicodemus, with the woman at the well, in the ongoing formation of Peter and the other disciples. In the early church, people flocked to hermits in the desert for spiritual counsel. Across the centuries we find striking examples in some Irish monks, in some German Benedictine nuns, in Charles de Foucault, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Francis de Sales, and others. Today, spiritual directors come from many traditions.… (Marian Cowan, CSJ)

What is Healing Prayer Ministry?

In healing prayer ministry a person receives healing from Jesus through one or more people praying with them and using the gifts the Holy Spirit gives to discern the nature of the ministry needed and how to carry it out. Many people around the world have found healing for the wounds and traumas of life through the ministry of people trained to listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit rather than just their own medical or psychological expertise.

Need to talk with someone about pressing problems, relationships? Would you like to go deeper in your walk with our Lord? Do you need healing prayer for past hurts or issues?

Contact Fr. Josh directly to set up an appointment.

These services are offered free of charge, although we will gratefully receive an offering to Desert Call Ministries.

 [Back to top]