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5 Books All Pastoral Counselors Should Own

Pastoral counseling is a big responsibility that merges Biblical teachings with psychological principles. To get into this type of counseling, you need a both a bachelor's and a master's degree and, in most cases, a state license. Given the complex nature of the field, it's helpful to have some books on hand to guide you through the sometimes difficult process of pastoral counseling.

Cross Talk by Michael Emlet

Life is hard even for those who are spiritually anchored. As a pastoral counselor, your first instinct may be to send people to the Bible for answers, but it's not always easy to see how passages pertain to specific life problems. "Cross Talk" can help you apply Scripture to any situation that may arise in your counseling practice. By linking the "story" of the Bible together with every person's life story, Emlet gives both counselors and individuals practical tools for overcoming difficulties by using biblical truth.

Gospel-Centered Counseling: How Christ Changes Lives by Bob Kellemen

As volume one of a two-volume series, this book is meant to "equip Biblical counselors" to work with others by breaking life's biggest challenges down into seven "ultimate questions" that address confusion about truth, creation, sin, the nature of God, redemption and what the future holds. Each question is addressed biblically so that you can help those you counsel navigate through the difficult times in their lives. You'll be able to assure them of the goodness of God's work and provide encouragement solidly based in Scripture.

Lectures to My Students by Charles Spurgeon

Although this collection focuses more on writing and delivering sermons than on counseling, Spurgeon's insights can help pastoral counselors understand how to apply biblical teaching and concepts when working with others. The lectures included in the volume provide valuable guidance in navigating the relationships involved in counseling and also give you a better understanding of how to properly include biblical teachings in your sessions. Together with other books, "Lectures to My Students" will help you take the concepts involved in sermon writing and apply them to practical counseling situations.

Pastoral Care by Gregory the Great

Written by Pope Gregory around the year 590, this book addresses the responsibilities of clergy members and outlines the qualities involved in good pastoral care. Pope Gregory also goes into detail about how to properly minister to different groups of people. This is an invaluable discourse if you go into counseling because of the diverse range of individuals you'll work with. Studying the writings of Pope Gregory in "Pastoral Care" will give you a better understanding of how to connect with people from all types of backgrounds.

Pastoral Counsel by Thomas Oden

This third volume in the Classical Pastoral Care series acts like a manual for handling the "tough stuff" that counselors come across. In this book, Oden explains how to establish relationships, when to speak and when to keep silent, how to offer biblical admonition and discipline and how to be discerning enough to tell which of these approaches is best in a given situation. Since counseling can be so difficult, it's important to have a manual such as Oden's to guide you in making decisions on how to best serve individuals who need guidance.

With these books on your shelves, you'll be better equipped to help the people you counsel. Anchored in Biblical teachings and focused on making those principles relevant to any counseling situation, each text shows you how to offer useful, applicable advice to empower every person who comes through your door.