Strategic Pastoral Counseling - Review


The term pastoral counseling creates a variety of responses from clergy and partitioner alike. Many pastors do whatever they can to avoid counseling the members of their church while others are comfortable opening up their offices to the community at large. Some church members feel obligated to keep their deep dark secrets away from the pastor, least they be judged. Others see the pulpit as the best place to seek counsel. David Benner provides an effective model for counseling that should meet the needs of preachers and pew-sitters alike. His book is titled Strategic Pastoral Counseling: A Short-Term Structured Model and gives us a look into a more purposeful approach to soul care. Many pastors are not professionally trained to counsel others. They receive a liberal arts education that ranges from theology to business management. The average pastoral ministries graduate is generally required to take a few classes on psychology and counseling. Benner has created a model for counseling that has a limited scope and seuqence and is goal oriented. His book describes the unique qualities of pastoral counseling. He addresses the value of Biblical advice preceding over modern counseling techniques. These techniques are laid out into individual stages and tasks that the pastor can use to structure and assess the counseling relationship.

This book was written for a narrow audience with a specific goal in mind. Benner's instructions are embedded with multiple stories and examples which serve to create a context for his strategic model. I would not recommend this be the only book you read on pastoral counseling. It contains a valuable model for pastoral soul care but could have been expressed more clearly in far fewer words. Benner must strike a balance between assuming to little or to much of his reader in regard to psychology and counseling experience. This makes the book feel like a collection of insightful statements embedded in obvious practicum. Perhaps my disinterest in this topic disuades me from liking this book. Regardless of personal taste, I discovered a lot of helpful tips for my next counseling encounter and feel more prepared than ever with an end in sight.

Brent ColbyComment