Date of Submission

7-2014

Abstract

This investigation has emerged from the experience gained from my work with local church pastors and their day-to-day ministry. The relationships involved in such pastoral work inevitably reflect the tension between the evangelical commitment inherent in their calling, and the need for objectivity and self-transcendence in their relationship to the suffering other in all the varieties of the human struggle with grief, loss and incapacity.

Such vocational and professional tensions are frequently detrimental to physical, mental and relational well-being of the pastors themselves. Accordingly, this project is shaped by the conviction is that the pastoral ministry in such circumstances would greatly benefit from the kind of research here undertaken in order to make methodically explicit the theological and psychological principles implicit, but too easily overlooked, in pastoral practice. When the awareness of the pastors involved is raised, it can be expected that fewer casualties will result, and that the practice or of pastoral counselling will benefit from a more integrated intentionality and professional transparency.

To focus on the therapeutic relationship implicit in the pastoral ministry and explicitly present in the activity of counselling, the interdisciplinary dimensions of our project emerge. The integration of theology, psychology professional practice and pastoral ministry is a continuing challenge. This project, therefore, has sought to identify in the therapeutic relationship factors, issues and questions common to theological and psychological perspectives and allied disciplines. As a result, this thesis has contributed to the development of a interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary language, thus enabling forms of meaningful interdisciplinary dialogue. The basic vocabulary of this language includes terms such as “relationality”, “personhood” and “therapeutic change” as would be expected. But there is a larger vocabulary drawn from newly emerging interest in spirituality and its influence on vocational identity and the therapeutic style—and goal—of ministry.

As a result, this larger vocabulary has helped in the development of what can be termed “a praxis model” of the therapeutic relationship with a capacity to integrate perspective and epistemologies of theology and psychology, the lived-experiences of the participants and the deep spiritual awareness of participating in the life of the Trinity itself. At such a spiritual depth, the therapeutic relationship becomes not just a vehicle for healing, but the impetus and invitation to true transformational change.

School/Institute

School of Theology

Document Type

Thesis

Access Rights

Open Access

Extent

374 pages

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Faculty

Faculty of Theology and Philosophy

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