What Training Is Required for a Career in Pastoral Counseling?

The practice of pastoral counseling has evolved from religious counseling to spiritual psychotherapy, integrating theology with the behavioral sciences. Learn more about training requirements and program options below. Schools offering Christian Counseling degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Training Requirements for a Career in Pastoral Counseling

Many pastoral counselors hold a graduate degree in pastoral counseling or a closely related field, though educational requirements can vary widely by religious denomination, licensing entity or certifying organization. The few states that do license pastoral counselors usually require graduate-level training, along with clinical counseling experience, similar to a mental health counselor. A small number of organizations offer voluntary certification in this field, and the minimum education is a bachelor's degree. Additional requirements may include a religious endorsement and counseling experience.

Important Facts About Pastoral Counseling

Similar Occupations School Counselor, Social and Community Service Managers, Psychologists
Work Environment Typically office settings or within state or federal facilities
Key Skills Empathy, analysis, communication skills, community coordination
Salary (May 2018) $47,920 (Mean annual wage for all Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Licensure Requirements

Only a handful of states require licensure for pastoral counselors, including Arkansas, Maine, Kentucky, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Tennessee. Though requirements vary from state to state, they usually include completion of a state-approved graduate program in pastoral counseling or a relevant field, along with supervised clinical experiences.

Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling Program Overview

Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling programs provide the theological, psychological and clinical training necessary for students to work as pastoral counselors. Graduates are prepared for employment as pastoral counselors in a variety of mental health settings, including clinics, agencies, parishes or private practice. These programs may prepare you for state licensure as a mental health professional.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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