Are Pastoral Counseling And Christian Counseling The Same Discipline?

Updated November 30, 2022 · 2 Min Read

Explore this resource by Best Counseling Degrees to learn all about pastoral counseling vs christian counseling. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Pastoral counseling and Christian counseling are not the same discipline, but they are related. Anyone who wishes to learn about the disciplines must have a heart for helping people, and they will find that sitting in sessions with counseling clients may be quite a help. This article discusses the differences between the two, and there is a look at why pastors must counsel in their own manner.

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#1: What Does A Counseling Pastor Do?

A counseling pastor is someone who works in the ministry full-time, and they have added counseling to their duties. The average pastor has a master of divinity, and they are ordained by their denomination to lead their church. They are completing pastoral counseling with their clients to ensure everyone has a place to come for help, and they often allow a more comfortable place for counseling.

Related Resource: The Top 10 Low-Cost Online Master’s Degrees in Pastoral Counseling

#2: What Is A Christian Counselor?

Christian counselors are licensed professionals who have advanced degrees in counseling from accredited institutions. There are quite a few people who are counselors for secular clients, and they choose to offer Christian counseling services. There are simply adding a Christian component to their services, and they are not asking their clients to do anything that would indicate their follow a particular faith. The majority of Christian counseling patients are Christians, but they need not be.

#3: How Are The Two Different?

The two fields become quite different when they are examined as they relate to their licensure. Pastoral counselors are not required to have licenses in every state, and they may often work as lay counselors after registering with the state. Christian counselors are licensed by all 50 states, and they must receive quite a lot of continuing education to maintain their licenses. Someone who has taken a look at the field will note the amount of training for a pastoral counselor is far lower, and they are providing a different sort of service.

#4: Privacy Concerns

Pastoral and Christian counselors are tasked with keeping all information about their clients private, and they are asked to secure their records to ensure there is no loss of data. There are federal laws that control how Christian counselors must manage their records, and pastors are asked to abide by the same rules. They are not licensed as a traditional counselor, but they are shown the benefits of keeping records properly.

#5: Training

Pastors receive degrees in school that are focused on pastoring a church, and they may take a singular course on counseling their flock. Christian counselors are put through a two to three-year period of training that includes an internship. They are expected to learn every aspect of the field, and they train in psychology, research and statistics. Clients must choose wisely once they have begun a search for someone to talk to.

The pastors and counselors who wish to help others will find there are many avenues to offer assistance. The training for each job involves an advanced degree, and both sets of professionals will find continuing education helpful. They are putting a Christian angle on what they are doing, but they are doing so in two different ways. Pastors are leading a flock, and a counselor is helping clients every day with a battery of training.

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