The function of relationship in pastoral counseling microform
Becker, Arthur H.
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The relationship between counselor and patient has emerged as one of the primary curative resources in both psychotherapy and pastoral counseling. This dissertation compares the therapeutic relationship in psychotherapy and pastoral counseling with respect to its nature, goals and functions. A specific focus of this comparison is to determine the impact of the religious concerns of pastoral counseling on the relationship. The literature of six major approaches in psychotherapy and that of pastoral counseling was examined to compare the relationships, determine goals and functions of each. Further comparison was made by means of a modified Q-sort technique in which eleven pastoral counselors participated. An Interview Analysis Schedule was constructed on the basis of these data and 44 hospital pastoral interviews were examined by four judges to determine the quality of the relationship, the extent to which goals were achieved and functions fulfilled in interviews judged to be good or poor. The following results were obtained: (a) Extensive agreement was found as to the nature of the ideal therapeutic relationship among psychotherapists and pastoral counselors when the dimensions of communication, security factors, and status of the therapist were considered. Pastoral counselors placed 29 of 45 Q-sort items into identical categories as did the psychotherapists and varying only one out of five categories in sorting the remaining 16 items. (b) The pastoral counseling relationship was found to consist of five dimensions including (i) communication, (ii) status, (iii) trust, (iv) emotional distance, and (v) religion. (c) Four major goals common to all therapies but with varying emphases were found: (i) personal integration, (ii) self-acceptance, (iii) restoration of wholesome interpersonal relationships and, (iv) finding new meaning for life. Pastoral counseling relationships hold these same goals but with specifically religious emphases. (d) Three major functions of the therapeutic and pastoral counseling relationships emerged: (i) the relationship gratifies basic needs, (ii) serves as a corrective experience and model for interpersonal relationships and, (iii) as an occasion for social learning. (e) The religious dimension of pastoral counseling took precedence over the others, followed by communication, trust, status and emotional distance, in that order, supporting the major hypothesis of the study. (f) Pastoral hospital interviews which were known to be "good" and were so rated by the four judges were scored consistently higher in the dimensions of trust, religion, status and communication than were hospital interviews known to be "poor", thus fulfilling the functions and achieving the goals of the relationship to a greater degree. Both "good" and "poor" interviews scored equally high in the emotional distance dimension. The following conclusions were drawn: (a) There is significant similarity between psychotherapeutic and pastoral counseling relationships, most marked between client-centered therapy and pastoral counseling. Pastoral counseling, however, clearly retains its religious orientation which effects the nature, goals and functions of the relationship. (b) The primary religious function of the pastoral counseling relationship is to bring about an awareness of the redemptive activity of God and to communicate the accentance and forgiveness of God, verbally and non-verbally. (c) Communication emerges as a central role of the pastor and as a primary factor in pastoral counseling, though it does not occur independently of the other dimensions. (d) On the basis of the interviews examined, the more nearly ideal the pastoral counseling relationship is, the more completely are the goals and functions of the relationship fulfilled. Further research into the nature and function of the pastoral counseling relationship is indicated in the following areas: (a) the counselee's expectations and experience in the pastoral counseling relationship; (b) the nature and effect of the symbolic role of the pastor in counseling; (c) the effect of the content of communication on the other dimensions of the relationship; (d) the function of the relationship in the parish setting; (e) the impact of the theological concepts of the pastor on the dimensions, goals and functions of the pastoral counseling relationship.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Boston University