Traditional psychotherapy has helped millions of people adjust, develop, and grow; treating everything from personality disorders to substance abuse, mental health counselors have healed the suffering and restored lives. For many, however, full recovery requires a spiritual component; in pastoral community counseling, therapists, and counselors incorporate faith into treatment to heal their patients, body, mind, and soul.
Why a Ph.D.?
Pastoral community counseling doctoral degree programs incorporate spiritual counseling and traditional methods, so graduates develop the skills they need to counsel their patients to full recovery. Students should expect the program to take at least three years to complete, during which time they will receive thorough training in a wide variety of counseling theory and practice, including pastoral counseling. As these are doctoral programs, students should expect to take several courses on both qualitative and quantitative research methods. Prior to graduation, students will present and defend a doctoral dissertation.
Inside a Pastoral Community Counseling Ph.D. Program
All doctoral programs are demanding, and pastoral community counseling programs are no exception. Students should expect to develop a deep understanding of how spirituality promotes healing, and be able to incorporate that into treatment. Typical courses include spiritual enhancement, ethics, and religion in psychology. Many programs include study of holistic health and non-western healing, as well. At least two years of classes should be expected.
Of course, significant course work in traditional psychological theories and methods will be required. Specific classes on family therapy, substance abuse, individual counseling, and clinical supervision are typically offered. Students should expect to become proficient in at least one research method. Prior to graduation, mastery of that method will be demonstrated when the student presents and defends his dissertation.
What’s Next for Pastoral Community Counseling Ph.D. Holders?
Graduates of pastoral community counseling doctoral programs can expect to find work immediately; according to the BLS, jobs for doctoral level mental health professionals are expected to increase by 19% by 2024. Working in private practice, these professionals can expect to earn median salaries of $70,700.
Some doctoral degree holders choose to use their hard-won skills and conduct and publish their own research in scholarly journals. Many, too, take positions at colleges and universities, teaching the next generation of pastoral community counselors; these university professors can expect to earn salaries similar to those who work in private practice.