Item description for Strategic Pastoral Counseling: A Short-Term Structured Model by David G. Benner...
Overview Gives pastoral counselors practical guidance in developing a short-term model for helping congregants.
Publishers Description Therapeutic counseling in a Christian context can be highly effective when it maintains narrowly focused goals in a time-limited setting. The details of this proven model of pastoral counseling are described in this practical guide. This second edition of Strategic Pastoral Counseling has been thoroughly revised and includes two new chapters. Benner includes helpful case studies, a new appendix on contemporary ethical issues, and updated chapter bibliographies. His study will continue to serve clergy and students well as a valued practical handbook on pastoral care and counseling.
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Studio: Baker Academic
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 0.5" Width: 5.25" Height: 8.25" Weight: 0.5 lbs.
Release Date Sep 1, 2003
Publisher Baker Publishing Group
ISBN 0801026318 ISBN13 9780801026317
Availability 0 units.
More About David G. Benner
David G. Benner is professor of psychology at Redeemer College (Ontario) and a practicing clinical psychologist. He is the author or editor of fifteen books, including the Baker Encyclopedia of Psychology and Counseling Dr. Benner is also the founding director of the Institute for Psychospiritual Health, an international network of scholars and practitioners.
David G. Benner currently resides in Atlanta, in the state of Georgia.
David G. Benner has published or released items in the following series...
Reviews - What do customers think about Strategic Pastoral Counseling: A Short-Term Structured Model?
A Helpful Introduction to Benner's Short-Term Model Nov 10, 2006
Dr. David Benner presents the case for his short-term, five-session model for pastoral counseling with succinctness, clarity, fairness, and sound argumentation. In addition, he goes to great lengths to explain how such a model could work effectively within a church setting. The last three chapters are especially practical in their step-by-step presentations of the strategic pastoral counseling model and two well-presented case studies. His discussion of the inherently spiritual nature of many life issues (pp.62-67) is a very helpful and profound elucidation of the pastoral counselor's role. I highly recommend this volume to all pastors of local churches and all practicing or aspiring Christian counselors.
Uncommon Common-Sense Approach to Counseling Oct 16, 2006
Benner provides an excellent model for counseling with just enough counseling content and technique to communicate how it would work.
If all knowledge were organized into the categories of (1) revelation (religion), (2) speculation (philosophy), (3) investigation (science/wisdom), and (4) mystification (mysticism), then _Strategic _would fall squarely within the wisdom category since it is largely grounded in and directed toward how pastors, parishioners, and churches can function more wisely. Wisdom is therefore in the forefront. People need counseling (wisdom) because (1) they have made unwise choices and need to recover from them or (2) they are reacting unwisely to situations not of their choosing and need to learn how to react more appropriately.
Pastors also need wisdom to know how to counsel more effectively. More specifically, they need a "wise" model for counseling. They need to know their limitations as counselors. They need to know the unique advantages and disadvantages inherent to pastoral counseling. And last but not least, they need to know how to counsel.
Benner provides help for all these needs. That help involves a mix of biblical and secular wisdom-- (1) secular wisdom in terms of understanding the interplay of the social self, psychology, and sociology and (2) biblical wisdom in terms of evaluating and applying secular wisdom in counseling to help Christians facing problems. Biblical and secular wisdom, of course, can be brought to bear in many different venues. Benner is helpful in identifying those venues and in distinguishing pastoral counseling from other places of Christian help, such as Christian friendship, pastoral care, and spiritual direction.
Secular wisdom is prominent but religious considerations are primary. Benner affirms Christian values as the overarching context for counseling. His use of scripture, however, is sometimes superficial in playing off biblical quotations without regard to their original meanings. For example, the Holy Spirit's help in knowing what to say in times of crisis (John 14:26) has nothing to do with pastoral counseling.
Much of Benner's religious message though is grounded in a value system that is simply "humane" rather than explicitly Christian. For example, Clinebell's criteria for healthy religiosity (which Benner apparently approves) include 20 questions, none of which necessarily demands a uniquely Christian response. Such observations are not so much criticisms of Benner as they are a reflection of how difficult the task of Christianizing the secular substitute for religion (i.e., psychology) can be.
Benner emphasizes spirituality in terms of three components: thoughts, emotions, and behavior. Although Benner identifies spiritual growth as the main and unique goal of pastoral counseling, the word "spiritual" is notoriously slippery. Apart from its mystical aspects, spirituality is most appropriately anchored in emotionally and behaviorally charged propositions about the meaning of things. Although spirituality is rooted in propositions, it is not merely cognitive because it does have behavioral and emotional components in addition to its mental aspects. None of this analysis of "spirituality" is necessarily Christian, but it is consistent with a Christian understanding of spirituality.
Nor should any of the above diminish enthusiasm for Benner's book. His approach is well-suited and much needed by pastors. The notion of a religious status assessment is powerful. The discipline and practice of taking a person's religious history should be a mark of competence. The relative attraction of hurting people to pastoral counseling and the relative success of pastoral counseling compared to other sources should encourage those who practice it. The greater return on investment from short-term counseling (vis-a-vis long-term counseling) is counter-intuitive and Benner provides a necessary and worthy defense. Benner's observation that "people see what they are looking for" explains the blinding effects of both secular and religious professionalism. Secular counselors mostly see the distorting effects of religious beliefs-- hence their generally negative view of religion. If they are any negatives to posit about Benner's presentation, they generally lie in the inherent difficulty of contextualizing a secular discipline within a biblical worldview.
Where contextualization is not possible, Benner usually comes down on the right side in such things as the rejection of a therapeutic approach to sin. He is also right in rejecting the compartmentalization of humanity that is so characteristic of secular approaches to counseling. The human mind understands itself in terms of a personal narrative, so many people can be greatly helped simply by "re-storying" themselves. Dysfunctional behavior does have payoffs. Counseling is a roller coaster-- up after the first visit and down after the second once the hard work begins. Values become destructive when they are elevated above their rightful place. Pastors should find all of these insights helpful.
Sometimes though, Benner misses the mark a bit. Assessing an individual, for example, in terms of "how well faith is serving him" is too utilitarian to be biblical. Expressions of emotion can be cathartic, but they can also make individuals more practiced in inappropriate expressions.
Benner provides an excellent model for counseling with just enough counseling content and technique to communicate how it would work. Practitioners will have to fill in the gaps with their own practices and understandings of biblical and human nature. Some things I would add would include more attention to the problem of pride. Pride often surfaces in unexpected ways-- low self esteem may be traceable to self-punishment arising out of a prideful self-understanding of oneself. Use of emotional energy for positive purposes would also be powerful. Humans need emotional energy for motivation; and ironically, they get more energy from negative experiences that positive ones. Wisdom is needed to know how to use that energy in constructive ways. Gender counseling to address the distortions inherent to an increasingly androgynous culture would also be an intriguing approach to the problems of many people. Finally, special attention to the function of conscience in demanding confession, justification, reconciliation, and atonement may be one of the most unrecognized dynamics in counseling.
As previously noted, Benner's intent in writing _Strategic Pastoral Counseling _was to produce a book on counseling that is explicitly Christian, holistic, pastoral, fruitful, disciplined, well-founded, and workable. He achieves those goals in a concise, readable way.
From the back cover, Benner (Ph.D., York University) is Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Spirituality at the Psychological Studies Institute (Atlanta) and a practicing clinical psychologist. The author or editor of over twenty books, he is the founding director of the Institute for Psychospiritual Health.
Benner's preface to his first edition (1992) defends the need for a new book on pastoral counseling, specifically the need for an approach to counseling that is explicitly Christian, holistic, pastoral, fruitful, disciplined, well-founded, and workable. His preface to the second edition (2003) highlights improvements over the first edition. The first chapter locates pastoral counseling in the context of Christian community. The second chapter focuses on how pastoral counseling differs from other kinds of counseling. The third chapter describes Benner's three-stage model for strategic pastoral counseling: encounter, engagement, and disengagement. The last two chapters provide cases studies. An appendix addresses ethical concerns in counseling.
Surprisingly informative Dec 16, 2005
After reading quite a lot of material on pastoral care, I picked up this book. The content focuses mainly on how to do short-term pastoral care/counseling in a way that respects the time of the pastor, and in a way that encourages the client to either grow on their own, or realize that their needs require a professionally trained therapist.
The book deals with a "standard" model of one-on-one care that occurs in 5 meetings between the pastor and client. Additionally, it deals with pastoral counseling that occurs in only one session. The book provides case studies for each model, to help the reader understand how to do what the book describes. All in all, this short book is surprisingly informative about HOW to do short term counseling and establish the proper boundaries between pastor and parishioner.
My only complaint about the book is that the case studies tend to be trite. For instance, one case study has to do with a woman who had an abortion and now can't have children, and is traumatized by this turn of events. To me, this case is the stereotypical case Christian pastors think they might be dealing with. Instead, I would have rather seen case studies dealing with harder and more nebulous topics, like what to do about wayward children, issues of identity such as homosexuality, or issues of death and dying such as whether or not to remove the feeding tube from a parent in a vegetative state.
All in all, however, I found this book quite helpful, and a quick and easy read.
They made me read it... Jan 31, 2005
Dr. Benner notes that 87% of surveyed pastors wished they had more pastoral counseling training, and that they thereby regard themselves as unprepared for counseling circumstances they encounter, despite seminary training and a large number of books published on the subject. This sense of pastoral inadequacy has spurred Benner to write Strategic Pastoral Counseling, which hopes to address the lack of practical pastoral counseling guides by providing busy pastors with a framework or methodology for effective counseling.
While most books can take on an overly theoretical tone, Benner has intended that his book, while theoretically sound, should act as a very practical sourcebook for pastors, providing them with a schema or algorithm for managing their counseling challenges. Benner briefly surveys the history of pastoral counseling, ***although limiting himself to the last century of thought***. This done, he reviews the range of counseling forms offered within the church, from formal discussions with the pastor to simple forms of friendship among church members. He also notes the unique nature of pastoral counseling and the unique but perhaps insufficient qualifications that pastors possess by virtue of their specialized education. Lastly, before detailing his pastoral schema, he reflects on the goal of effective pastoral counseling, spiritual growth in a Christian context.
Benner's methodology, what he describes as "strategic pastoral counseling", is "brief and time-limited, holistic, structured, involves assigned work between sessions, and is church-based, spiritually focused and explicitly Christian." Benner works out each of these characteristics in some detail, and then turns to a practical discussion of how these various qualities can be achieved with a particular conversational methodology, involving "encounter, engagement, and disengagement". Benner helpfully suggests a maximum of 5 visits with counselees to bound the scope of counseling discussions and safeguard the busy pastor's schedule.
Benner concludes his presentation with two representative case studies which illustrate his recommended strategy in practice. These case studies survey the range of pastoral counseling commitments: one a five-week engagement with a very difficult counseling situation, and another single-visit circumstance. In both case studies, he provides representative dialog along with a running commentary on how his strategy is worked out in practice.
Strategic Pastoral Counseling contains a few regrettable references to women pastors, and has few roots in Scriptural observations, but nonetheless provides some useful considerations for pastors or prospective pastors who are wondering how to effectively counsel the members of their spiritual community amidst a busy schedule.
Overall, points subtracted for failing to spring from a historically informed view of the Church and her activities, especially a familiarity with the old post-Reformation pastors of the soul. For example, why is no one asking why pervasive professional "counseling" only appeared relatively recently among us? Are we the best and brightest generation? Were the old guys just dolts? What were they doing with those under their care? Worth some thought, but few are inquiring...
A helpful book providing a realistic model Feb 6, 2002
Benner begins this book by discussing the context in which Pastoral Counseling is to take place. He maintains that the challenge for pastors has "been to find a model of counseling that is both distinctively pastoral and psychologically responsible" (p. 13). This is so because Pastoral Counseling (counseling which is genuinely pastoral) must be subsumed under the general rubric of the Pastoral Ministry. In other words, the pastor is not a clinical psychologist and he should not counsel like one. He is a pastor and he must counsel those in his congregation with the selfless, caring nurture which is to characterize those who are responsible to look after the spiritual well-being of Christ's flock. In the chapter entitled The Uniqueness of Pastoral Counseling, Benner provides what I believe to be the most useful information in the entire book. Here, in addition to defining what he means by Pastoral Counseling, he explores the training, the role, the context, the goals, and the resources of Pastoral Counseling. As I will only be able to touch on one of these elements, let it be known that Benner remarks that "pastoral counseling is unique in its use of religious resources. Prayer, Scripture, the sacraments, anointing with oil or laying on of hands, and devotional or religious literature are all...available as potential resources for the counseling process. The failure ever to employ any of them suggests an erosion of the distinctively pastoral aspects of one's counseling" (p. 29). Lest there is any question of Benner's commitment to Christianity, see his comments under the heading, Explicitly Christian Counseling, on pages 57-61. It is obvious that Benner wants to be able to provide real-life pastors with a Pastoral Counseling model that will work in real-life situations. In fact, this seems to be the main thrust behind the whole idea of a strategic short-term model. He realizes that most pastors are either too busy, or not properly equipped to undertake a massive, long-term counseling approach. Besides, he explains that a counseling session need not be excessively long in order to be effective. A key to undertaking the short-term approach is for the pastor to be up front with the parishioner about the nature of the counseling model. Benner suggests that an individual be seen over the course of five sessions..."The limit of five sessions should be communicated no later than the first session and preferably in the prior conversation when the time is set for the first session" (p. 45). This is absolutely crucial to the short-term model. The body of the short-term model is composed of three stages, each with their respective tasks (see Table 4, p. 64). In the encounter stage (1 session), the boundaries of the sessions are set, the central concern and any relevant history is explored, a pastoral diagnosis is conducted, and both the Pastoral counselor and the parishioner agree upon a focus for the counseling. In the engagement stage (3 sessions), the feelings, thoughts, and behavior of the parishioner are examined. As well, resources for coping and/or change are sought after and explored. In the disengagement stage (1 session), the progress of the meetings is evaluated and any remaining concerns are assessed. At this time, a referral is given (if one is needed), and the counseling session is terminated. It must be kept in mind, as Benner points out, that "the person seeking help may be back again at some point in the future for further help. There is no assumption that Strategic Pastoral Counseling fixes people up for life" (p. 45). Towards the end of the book (chapter 5), Benner provides a case study where we are given opportunity to see this short-term model in action. This is valuable in that it provides opportunity to see this model fleshed-out. The Appendix includes the results from a survey of Pastoral Counseling practices giving opportunity to see the pulse of those involved in counseling.