PCC Theological Preamble Print

Adopted Sept. 17, 1988

I. Preface

The course to be charted for the Pastoral Counseling Center through its history must take its bearings from several natural benchmarks on the terrain of its history and existence. As an institution the Pastoral Counseling Center has unique accountabilities to the Church, to the State, to its Profession, to itself, and to the community in which it practices. The plan and goals for the future of the Center must be born out of a healthy balance between these accountabilities.

As a unique institution, the Pastoral Counseling Center is first and foremost a ministry of God. The Pastoral Counseling Center has been called into its very existence through people moved by God into an awareness of yet another and specific way the force of a Holy Spirit of healing and reconciliation may be brought to bear on a hurting and broken world. It is the Pastoral Counseling Center’s religious conception which ultimately must distinguish it from other helping services, and from which formative values for its future direction must be derived.

As a ministry of God and as an agent of God’s healing and reconciling Spirit in the world, the Pastoral Counseling Center is called to respond to those who are in pain; to respond unconditionally; and to respond helpfully.

II. Responding

The Pastoral Counseling Center exists as a response by faithful people to need in their community, and it exists to be a response to their community’s need. As such, The Pastoral Counseling Center should continue to be a ministry, mission and service of healing in a religiously and morally sensitive context. Theologically trained clinical staff are an essential part of the Center’s delivery system. As a counseling ministry, the Center should continue its unique focus on people’s relationships to themselves, to others, and to God. The Center should explore the variety of options available for fulfilling its mission of healing, including counseling and psychotherapy, assessment and referral, consultation to ministers and other professionals, training of people in helping skills, and programs for education about and prevention of emotional, social, and spiritual illness.

III. Responding Unconditionally

For the Center to respond unconditionally to those who are in need means maximizing its accessibility to all. The ministry of the Pastoral Counseling Center should continue to be a ministry of mission as well as a pastoral ministry. The care offered by the Center should be a mission from the Church to the world-at-large, as well as a pastoral ministry by the Church to itself. The services of the Pastoral Counseling Center should continue to be available to anyone, regardless of race, religion or creed. The Center must continue its policy of delivering service at a cost to its clients commensurate with their financial ability to pay for those services. The Center’s services should be handicapped accessible, and they should be geographically accessible. Where the need and means exist, the Center should be willing to offer its services regardless of geographic locale. Inasmuch as one aspect of accessibility is visibility, every effort should be made to inform potential clients of the Center’s existence.

Growth in service delivery as well and in sponsorship is also desirable. Growth in service delivery means more people are being helped by the Center, and that the cost of delivery per session is reduced, resulting in more responsible stewardship of our limited resources. Work by part-time clinical staff totaling a full-time case load is indication of need for another full time therapist. Growth in sponsorship by Churches or others enhances the Center’s financial and moral support base, both of which results are favorable.

While growth is desirable, maximizing the accessibility of the Center’s services must include strict attention to the Center’s financial and other limitations as well. No one can be served by a Center which doesn’t exist, and a Center operating beyond its resources must soon succumb. By the same token, those who benefit from the work of the Center must be encouraged to lend their support to the Center’s continued welfare. The Center should seek funding from sources corresponding to the geographic and special interest constituencies represented by the clients served.

IV. Responding Helpfully

To fulfill its mission of healing and reconciliation, the unconditional responses of the Pastoral Counseling Center to those in need must also be helpful responses. The Pastoral Counseling Center’s conscientiousness about what constitutes a “helpful” response to someone in need should continue to be a distinguishing quality for the Center. Casuistry, the arbitrary and rigid application of theological and moral principles to various situations without sensitivity to their context, must continue to be avoided. Helpful responses to people in need involve sensitive correlations between the opportunities which may lead to a greater fulfillment of an individual’s human potential and the circumstances which may constrain the individual’s ability to achieve that fulfillment. While, as Christians, we will have religious and moral commitments regarding the norms for human life, if we are to be genuinely helpful to people in need, we must be scrupulously attentive to the psychological, social, and biological obstructions which may hinder them from fulfilling their greatest potential. This unique combination of values commitments and sensitivity to context has implications for the relationship of the Center to its sponsor churches and to the public, for the location of the Center’s offices, for the clinical staffing of the Center, for the relationships of the Center clinical staff with themselves, with their own professional associations, and with other helping professionals in the community.

The present composition of the center’s Board of Director’s appropriately reflects the Center’s essential organic connection to the faith community as well as the Center’s intention to be sensitive and accountable to public needs and perspectives. The location of the clinical offices of the Pastoral Counseling Center should be in Churches, when feasible. While an appropriate sensitivity to a client’s context may mean that religious language is not spoken, or that moral intervention is not made during the entire course of a client’s counseling, there can be no mistake that help was offered by and found inside the Church, and by implication, its moral context.

If what is to be truly helpful to a client is to be discovered through a correlation of normative, psychological, social, and biological perspectives, then it is favorable for the Center to employ a balance of fully trained and certified therapists from various disciplines who, themselves, possess a respect for the interplay and interdependence of this variety of forces in the health and welfare of people. The Center’s uniqueness as a healing agency, then, evolves from the work of correlation which the clinical staff members do formally and informally, in case conference, consultation and conversation.

By extension, it is favorable for the Center’s staff to further enhance their helpfulness to those who present themselves in need by cultivating a flow of independent input through regular or occasional supervisory and/or consultive relationships with professionals outside the Center’s staff. Included in the various forms which these supervisory and consultive relationships may take is a continuing accountability to the rigors of their own professional certification process by staff therapists. In addition, the Pastoral Counseling Center itself should seek and maintain accreditation as a Service Center by the American Association of Pastoral Counselors.

Last Updated on Saturday, 23 January 2010 09:41