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Pre-Counseling Packages and their Importance in Pastoral Counseling

Counseling is a very important part of solving most problems that people face. However, before the actual counseling, there is need for pre-counseling measures to be undertaken. This is because some problems are so intricate while others are so emotionally involving that they leave the counselee traumatized, while some leave the counselee too devastated or shaken, or low on self esteem (Clinton and Ron 2007, 12-45).

Many other people are also introverts, and therefore do not easily relate with the therapist hence the necessity to engage the counselee with a few activities or questions before the actual counseling, to act as a ‘debrief’, which is very important. Pre-Counseling Packages A pre-counseling package is the group of activities conducted by a counselor before the actual counseling begins.

When applied in a Christian context, it is called a pastoral pre-counseling package. Pre-counseling packages encompass several things, which when combined together serve to either smoothen the path to the actual counseling, or to broaden the perspective of the counselor and counselee on the problem at hand (Kollar 1997, 16-34).

The effectiveness of these packages are based however on the assumptions that: firstly, the client is willing to attend the extra sessions before the actual therapy begins, secondly that the client is willing to disclose all the information that the counselor needs to begin formulating strategies for the therapy, and thirdly that the therapist is willing to take the client through the pre-counseling sessions before he starts therapy (Robert 1993, 33-45). Composition of Pastoral Pre-counseling Packages: The pre-counseling packages usually, contain several documents in a pastoral setting.

These documents are: the pastor’s resume – a statement of beliefs, ethical guidelines to the counseling, intake forms, consent and confidentiality agreements, and an overview of the counseling method and process. Pastor’s Resume This document contains the credentials of the pastor, which are: his name, the name of his church, his vision and mission statements, his physical addresses and contacts, his experience, the kinds of cases he deals with and also the kind of materials he has to carry out the counseling (American Association of Pastoral Counseling 2010, 1-6).

Statement of Beliefs This is a statement that clarifies the religion and doctrine of the pastoral counselor, as well as what he believes in. This may include his perspective on the various methods of counseling as well as the overview of the kind of problems the counselee is bringing forth. Ethical guidelines These are the rules, regulations and direction the pastor is inclined towards. These define the socio-cultural leanings of the pastor as well as client-counselor relationships, and the goals, risks and purpose of the counseling.

Intake forms These have the client’s details, family history, mental and physical health, financial and insurance information, authorization of release of client information to third parties, counseling fees, and immediate family information in case of emergencies. They also have within them privacy statements and confidentiality agreements. Consent and Confidentiality Agreement Consent sections are those that the client puts down his name, signature and date to affirm to the regulations of the section.

Confidentiality agreements are subdivided into contact information confidentiality, the counselor’s privacy statements, and client information confidentiality. They all serve to regulate access of the client’s information by any third parties. Overview of the Counseling Method Solution Based Brief Pastoral Counseling is where pastoral counseling adopts a short-term model of counseling, characterized by a few sessions aimed at offering effective solutions to the problems of an individual (Benner 2003, 19-26). These brief sessions follow a structure of several sessions, each within a certain time frame.

Homework in this context is done by the counselor to formulate the best strategies for engaging the client and the counselee, so as to try and find long-lasting solutions for their problems. ‘Therefore, it is imperative for the pastoral counselor to take notes to enhance his scope of the issue at hand, and also to refer to when researching on the problem. Sometimes lay counselors who do not have the materials or experience to deal with certain problems are forced to consult together in small groups to find solutions for clients by combining the group’s ideas.

This process is called referral, and it can involve one counselor debriefing with another to get suggestions on how to deal with a problem’ (Stone 1994, 18-35). Reasons and Limitations of Pre-Counseling Packages Pre-counseling helps firstly to familiarize the counselor with the counselee, so they can create a working relationship with the client, collect the necessary materials for dealing with the problem, formulate strategies and a work-plan to help solve the problem, and also to understand the problem with regards to the counselees attitude, environment, commitment and willingness to engage in counseling.

It also helps the counselor to choose the most appropriate mode of counseling to adopt (Warner 2007, 29-44). The effectiveness of pre-counseling is only determinable by the counselee’s willingness to engage, and how long the counselee takes to adopt the setting of pre-counseling and thus problems may arise due to lack of a definite time limit. Grief Grief is an emotional reaction to a substantial loss of someone or something dear, and it entails the wholesome process of working through the pain caused by this loss.

People react to grief in various ways but they all come down to either physical or emotional reactions, and these may range from dizziness and heart palpitations, to hostility and even a feeling of loneliness (Molly 1992, 1-12). For grief to become full-blown, it goes through several stages, although the order varies with each case. It starts with denial and shock, and then develops to intense self-bargaining. Then, depression sets in and the person becomes hostile, irritable and angry. When finally the person discovers there is no chance in regaining what they have lost, they finally regress into acceptance (John and Frank 1992, 6-13).

Pastoral pre-counseling is needed to first establish if there are external factors the counselee is trying to use to suppress the grief and also if these factors are facilitating the grief. Discouragement Discouragement is the emotion that we experience when our expectations are dashed, maybe as a result of what we anticipated being re-buffed (Don 2009, 3). Discouragement comes hand in hand with giving up and hopelessness and it is very likely that a discouraged person will feel useless, unworthy, and abandoned.

Discouragement is very sensitive, since the counselee even lacks the will to engage in the counseling so as to solve a problem (Max 2008, 1-10). This can cause a lot of problems, since the counselor is made to take extra measures to ensure that the counselee regains their self-worth and self-esteem. This scenario is therefore very dependent on pre-counseling. Anger Anger is the emotional response to being upset caused by frustration, disappointment, harassment, hurt caused by others, rejection and even sometimes fear (Andrew 2003, 3-5).

Anger is reflected in many ways; the most common being increased breathing rate, rise in blood pressure, increased heart rate and tensed muscles. Angry people may respond by violence, negative thoughts towards themselves and others and in extreme cases there are possibilities causing themselves bodily harm (Carlson 2002, 2-8). Intense anger can cause headaches, circulatory problems, respiratory disorders and nervous system disabilities. A pastoral counselor should therefore be very compassionate about handling anger cases.

Forgiveness Forgiveness is the act of change of attitude or emotion towards a person that committed an offence, and it is triggered by decreased motivation to maintain estrangement from the offender, and is usually accompanied by reconciliation. Some people say that forgiveness is erasure of negative emotions and replacing them with positive ones. Forgiveness is voluntary and is regarded as strength since even Mahatma Gandhi (2000, 301) said that ‘forgiveness is a concept for the strong, for the weak can never forgive’ .

It is said that forgiveness assists in psychological healing, improves mental and physical health, aids reconciliation, and restores the sense of personal power of the wronged (Vinsonneau and Azar 1999, 170-179). A pastoral counselor therefore needs to lay a lot of emphasis on the counselee to exercise this virtue. Love Love is an endearing emotion towards someone or something that makes a person want to relate with the particular thing or person that is winning his affection (Hannah 1996, 4). Love comes in many forms depending on whom or what is involved.

Some of the types of love are self-love, agape love, romantic love, matrimonial love, and sibling love. Love is a function of the heart and involves a lot of emotions (Panksepp 2000, 137-156). It is therefore very likely that in many cases if love is lost between those in a relationship, it shatters the affected considerably and may lead to very many reactions, most of which are negative. It is therefore imperative for a pastoral counselor to try and restore the lost love in the counselee Conclusion: Rationale

According to Hawkins’s pastoral counseling scenario, pastoral counseling should be an amalgamation of diverse methodologies, views, and evaluations, so that the outcome of the counseling can be a success. This emphasizes the importance of pastoral pre-counseling, not only for strategy formulation in problem solving, but also for creation of better relational structures between the counselor and the counselee (Tim and George 1999, 23-34). There is therefore a need for pastoral counselors to adopt the practice of pre-counseling into their pastoral counseling packages. Bibliography

American Associations of Pastoral Counseling website, Pre-Counseling Packages 2010. <http://www. www. aapc. org >. This website gives insight on the composition of the pre-counseling package, and how this package is integral in the actual counseling sessions. This website is a must-visit for anyone who wants to have enlightenment on counseling. Arendt, Hannah, Love and Saint Augustine: An Interpretive Essay Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1996. In this book, Hannah helps to clarify how love should be, and the various concepts surrounding a love of fulfillment.

She helps us position ourselves in readiness for love. This book is useful for anyone wishing to know the basics of love and its relation to life. Azar, F, and Vinsonneau, G. The Inclination to forgive: Many Findings from Lebanon, 1999. This book gives elaborate insight about the concept of forgiveness. The three authors go deep in pointing out how forgiveness works. This book is therefore useful in counseling, to enhance the process of healing. Benner, David G. Strategic pastoral counseling: A short-term model. 2nd Ed. Grand Rapids, Mississippi: Baker Publishing, 2003.

Benner has a lot of experience in pastoral care, and he puts this knowledge into practice in this book. He helps anyone who is interested in pastoral counseling gain useful information on how to go about it. This book is a very useful reference material in any counseling scenario. Carlson, D. Overcoming Hurts and Anger: Freedom from Negative Emotions Minneapolis, Minnesota: Fortress Press Publishers, 2002. In this book, Carlson helps us to identify and cope with our feelings, especially hurt and anger, and clearly shows that happiness can abound and we regain wholesomeness and human nature after being hurt by others.

This book is therefore very essential when dealing with a situation of anger in counseling. Clinton, Tim and Hawkins, Ron A Biblical Counseling Quick Reference Guide: Emotional and Personal Issues. Nashville, TN: Baker Publishing, 2007. Clinton and Tim have brought forth some very interesting ideas in this book. It is very elaborate in handling both emotional and personal issues. Just as it is titled, it is really a quick reference guide to biblical counseling.

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