Introduction to Pastoral Counseling

Rodney L. Cooper
Instructor: Rodney L. Cooper
Code: PC511
Section: CO1
Location: Digital Live
Schedule: Online with residency
Dates: Apr 14–16

Course Description

Introduction to Pastoral Counseling is designed to equip individuals in a variety of ministry and church settings to offer effective, short-term counseling and basic care from an integrative, pastoral perspective. Themes will include: theoretical approaches to pastoral counseling, the development of a personalized approach to pastoral counseling, the role of a pastoral counselor, pastoral counseling ethics, multicultural competence in pastoral counseling, and self-care.

This course is designed with the assumption that students are active participants in the learning process. Students are expected not only to participate in discussions, but also to take an active part in designing their own learning experience through the selection of topics to focus on in a range of assignments related to the learning objectives. This course is designed to value critical thinking, courteous dialogue, theological reflection, openness of expression, empathy toward others, and honest interaction.

Course Objectives

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  1. Understand and articulate a biblical and theological basis for pastoral counseling.
  2. Explain several theoretical approaches to counseling that are compatible with a pastoral counseling model and describe their application in concrete counseling situations.
  3. Identify and utilize key communication skills needed in the context of Christian care and pastoral counseling.
  4. Create a personal philosophy of pastoral care and counseling that integrates theological, theoretical and personal elements into a concrete approach suitable for a specific ministerial context.
  5. Understand and observe basic ethical principles applicable to the practice of pastoral counseling.
  6. Explain the role culture plays in the counseling process and develop greater inter-cultural sensitivity needed for the practice of pastoral counseling.
  7. Articulate principles of and formulate a personalized plan for self-care.
  8. Identify and assess basic types of psychological problems encountered in the local church and determine proper steps for pastoral care and referral.
  9. Explain the primary issues and pastoral care approaches needed for ministry to common presenting issues in congregational life such as depression, anxiety, anger management, abuse, marital problems and concerns regarding illness and death.

Required Readings

  1. Benner, David G., Strategic Pastoral Counseling: A Short-Term Structured Model (2nd Ed.). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2003.
  2. Clinebell, Howard, Basic Types of Pastoral Care & Counseling, (3rd Ed.). Nashville: Abingdon, 2011.
  3. Johnson, W. Brad. & Johnson, William L. The Minister’s Guide to Psychological Disorders and Treatments. Binghamton, NY: Haworth Pastoral Press, 2014.
  4. McIntosh, Gary L. and Rima, Samuel D. Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership: How to become an Effective Leader by Confronting Potential Failure. Baker Books Revised, 2007.
  5. Wicks, Robert J. Availability: The Challenge and Gift of Being Present. Notre Dame, IN: Sorin Books, 2015.

Apply by January 15th

Accepting applications for Spring 2021 degree programs through December 15, 2020. Applications for individual courses accepted through January 15, 2021.
Detailed Application Dates & Deadlines


The following tuition rates are for new students enrolling (without a declared degree) in one of our online courses.

*Tuition rates for students enrolled in a declared degree program may vary by campus. See tuition & fees for more information.


$ 350

No Additional Student Service Fees

Best for: Personal Enrichment

Participation: Auditors are restricted to non-participating member status in classes. In other words, auditors may not:

  • Participate in class discussion (except as authorized by the instructor according to the terms included in the course syllabus)
  • Submit written work
  • Sit for exams for the purpose of receiving an evaluation.

Credit/Grading: Auditors do not receive graduate credit nor a grade. Your Gordon-Conwell transcripts will note "AU" in place of a grade reflecting that you audited a course.

Application Requirements:

  • Online application.
  • No additional materials required.

Special Non-Degree Student

$ 1650

24% Discount off standard tuition; Student service fees apply.

Best for: Students who desire structured feedback or anticipate enrolling in a future degree program.

Participation: Special Non-Degree Students are fully enrolled students expected to participate in all elements of a course as outlined in the course syllabus.

Credit/Grading: Your Gordon-Conwell transcript will reflect a letter grade, and course credit may be applied toward a future degree program. If you are new to graduate-level coursework and nervous about grading, you may elect to take the course for Pass/Fail. Rather than receive a grade, your transcript will only reflect whether or not you received a passing grade. Degree programs allow a limited number of pass/fail courses.

Application Requirements:

  • Online application.
  • Undergraduate transcript(s).
  • Reference required if undergradute GPA is under 3.0.

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