Religious communities have traditionally sought to provide
religion-based solutions for those in trouble. Their leaders have
listened intently to personal problems for centuries, and have
developed religious counseling responses to those who suffer from
mental and emotional illness and relational difficulties.
Traditional religious counseling continues to help many of these
people. It was recognized long ago, however, that in many cases
specialized professional therapy was necessary for effective
treatment and healing.
The intimate link between spiritual and emotional well-being
began to receive serious attention by religious leaders in the
early 1900s when the Rev. Anton Boisen and other
founders of the Clinical Pastoral Education movement, placed
theological students in supervised contact with patients in
psychiatric and general hospitals and other settings. Innovative
educational program brought disciplined training to the historical
connection between faith and mental health.
The integration of religion and psychology for
psychotherapeutic purposes began in the 1930's in several
contexts, including (a) the collaboration of Norman Vincent
Peale, a renowned minister, and Smiley
Blanton, M.D., a psychiatrist, to form
the American Foundation of Religion and Psychiatry, now the
Blanton-Peale Institute in New York City, NY; and (b) collaboration
between clergy and psychoanalytically oriented psychiatrists
(including Helen Flanders Dunbar) in the NE USA.
Pastoral counseling has evolved from religious counseling to
pastoral psychotherapy which integrates theology
and other faith tradition knowledge, spirituality, the resources
of faith communities, the behavioral sciences, and in recent years,
In their awareness of the spiritual dimension of human
wholeness, Pastoral Counselors stand in good company. One of
Carl Jung's contributions as an analyst and
therapeutic theory developer was to emphasize the fundamental
importance of spirituality in psychology. Another influential
writer, Abraham Maslow, emphasized
self-actualization, which some equate with spiritual development.
William James, the influential early twentieth
century psychologist, studied religious experience as an expression
of levels of growth. Psychiatrist Karl
Menninger, who believed in the
"inseparable nature of psychological and spiritual health," was a
pioneer in the integration of the psychological and theological
disciplines. M. Scott Peck, M.D, author of the
best selling The Road Less Traveled and a
psychiatrist, also expressed this belief.
"It only makes sense that religion and psychology - each of
which is concerned with the fullness of the human experience -
should be recognized as partners, because they function as partners
within the human psyche," said Dr. Arthur Caliandro, Senior
Minister Emeritus, Marble Collegiate Church, New York City.
Today, pastoral counseling accounts for three million hours of
treatment annually in institutional and community-based