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Why Pastors Make Great Counselors

I love it, and I hate it. It's exhilarating, and it's exhausting.

Pastoral counseling—it's part of who I am and what I do, yet it often feels as if it's an invasion into my life.

No one does pastoral counseling better than a pastor. Not a psychiatrist, a psychologist, or a psychotherapist.

Professional counselors, the good and the biblical ones, have an important role to fill. I don't understand much about schizophrenia, repressed memories, cyclothymic disorder, or the treatment of ADHD, OCD, or PTSD. Mental illnesses are complex, and I'm not equipped even to recognize some of them. My parishioners and I have benefited from good counselors, and I consider them my allies.

But they are not my replacements. I'm not prepared to yield to a society enamored with Sigmund Freud, B..F. Skinner, Carl Rogers, or Albert Ellis. Pastors can still do things that professional therapists can't.

After all, the prefix psych means "soul," and pastors are tenders of the soul. That's ...

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