Researchers study pastoral counseling

Hand holding worn BibleUIC social work researchers will interview ministers of urban churches in a study of pastoral counseling — what the ministers see as their strengths, their struggles and the training they need to be more effective counselors.

The study was awarded a three-year, $85,000 grant from the John Templeton Foundation.

Jennifer Shepard Payne, assistant professor in the Jane Addams College of Social Work and the study’s principal investigator, said researchers will interview 40 pastors from churches in two urban areas, identifying “the universal nature of their lived experience of counseling in the pastoral context.”

The grant will also fund a project to explore the decision-making process that pastors use in counseling, and how the experience relates to their views of purpose and religious vocation.

Payne said the study lead to a better understanding of the counseling care that clergy provide and effective training programs based on pastors’ needs, as well as a website for clergy.

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