|"The majority of people seeking help for personal issues will turn to teachers, doctors, community workers, nurses, priests and social workers for support. It is time, therefore, that serious attention is given to the challenge of supporting a counselling dimension in other work roles"|
We welcome John McLeod’s article on embedded counselling (‘Outside the therapy room’, therapy today, May 2008). The Association for Pastoral Care and Counselling (APCC), since the foundation of the British Association for Counselling (BAC)
Embedded counselling and pastoral care
We welcome John McLeod’s article on embedded counselling (‘Outside the therapy room’, therapy today, May 2008). The Association for Pastoral Care and Counselling (APCC), since the foundation of the British Association for Counselling (BAC), has always included pastoral care with pastoral counselling as essential to one another and the focus of our raison d’etre. Our understanding of pastoral care and its relationship to counselling has a great deal in common with what McLeod calls ‘embedded counselling’.
In 1973, APCC’s constitutional papers defined its task: ‘Its aims and objectives lie along a continuum which stretches from bringing into ministerial and pastoral care of souls those insights and personal awareness which may be gleaned from the present understanding of human growth and development, especially in regard to the critical periods of development both of the individual and of the community; to the other end where the more complex problems of understanding both individual human emotional suffering and the sick community is necessitated if the religious element is to play its proper part.’
APCC saw a need for training in three fields. First, in helping both clergy and laity gain knowledge and sensitivity from the behavioural sciences and schools of psychology. The focus here was upon the general pastoral care of individuals and communities. Second, the training of those working at depth in the more specialised fields of counselling and psychotherapy, who needed to learn how to offer an appropriate theological contribution to their work. Third, the development of those engaged in the training of both the above.
For the last 30 years, APCC, and latterly APSCC (Association for Pastoral and Spiritual Care and Counselling), has sought to provide its membership with these same resources in pastoral care, for laity and clergy involved in both basic ministry and in pastoral counselling – beginning with Christian and Jewish traditions and developing to embrace all faiths and none, for whom spirituality is a central aspect of life.
The editor of our journal wrote last year of our current aims: ‘We seek to be a focus within BACP for spirituality and pastoral care, including though not limited to the perspectives of a variety of faith communities. In a counselling world increasingly professionalised… we stand for what will never fit neatly into accreditation criteria… At the same time we seek to maintain a dialogue on the threshold of BACP with large numbers of pastoral workers, clergy and chaplains who work with counselling and counselling skills.’
The Association and its members have learnt a great deal about the embeddedness of a counselling perspective, which is more than learning skills or applying theories. Pastoral carers and counsellors have drawn upon most counselling models and have practised the skills so valued in the discipline, but in ways which prioritise the relationship of pastor and pastored in a mutuality of learning from their humanity and whatever beliefs and spiritualities are important to them.
From the 70s to the present day, the fruits of this learning have appeared in our journals and in a wealth of books on the essence and application of pastoral care in many different settings and with diverse groups. Over 20 were published in the New Library of Pastoral Care alone. Currently the Association is focusing on the fruits of research concerning counselling, embedded and specialised, psychotherapy and spirituality, and on the relationship between the ancient and recovered tradition of spiritual direction and counselling. By expanding the division to embrace spirituality, secular as well as sacred, we hope to provide a richer resource for counselling and care of all kinds and a home for any who value this aspect of their work, embedded or not.
John Foskett, President, APSCC, Stanley Baxter Chair, APSCC, Chris Jenkins Vice-Chair, APSCC