Frequently Asked Questions on Counseling


Is pastoral care and pastoral counseling the same thing?

No. Pastoral care (which is what the PSR Pastoral Care Team provides) is a broad and inclusive way of pastoral work that is concerned with the support and nurturance of persons and interpersonal relationships. Pastoral counseling is an extended and structured conversation focused on the needs and concerns of the one seeking help (as defined by the Dictionary of Pastoral Care and Counseling). 

I’m a poor graduate student. How can I access counseling services?

Since cost is an issue to most students, note that some of the caregivers listed in the attachment provide affordable sliding scale fees. Some counseling centers provide services through interns that ask for very low fees.

Why is pastoral counseling, psychological counseling, and therapy important?

Therapy is great tool to be consciously aware of ways of being (patterns of thinking, feeling, and acting) that have been conditioned by our past—usually family of origin, institutions, or specific traumatic experience. When we become consciously aware, conditioned ways of being and doing that are no longer useful and life-giving to us begin to lose their grip. In time we begin to have the conscious choice in the present here-and-now moment of not defaulting or going auto-pilot into ways of being and doing conditioned from our past. Examples of ways of being that are not life-giving are: compulsions, addictions, automatic fight-flight reactions, attachments to resentments, anger, negativity, etc. This conscious choice of not “defaulting” or “going auto-pilot” allows space for personal freedom and creativity. It allows us to integrate new ways of seeing, acting, and relating with others and the world. We grow spiritually; we are resurrected; we are born again.

When is the best time to do counseling or therapy?

Most students see a pastoral counselor or a therapist only when a very stressful situation or crisis takes place. You are invited to consider pastoral counseling or psychological counseling as part of your spiritual and leadership formation, and not simply as a way to respond to crisis that takes place in your life. The best time is now.

What is spiritual direction? And what is the difference between spiritual direction, pastoral counseling, and psychological counseling?

What is a psychotherapist? And what is the difference between a counselor and psychotherapist?

First time in therapy?