About Our Name

The Pastoral in our name is the traditional name for counseling that integrates therapy with a client’s values and/or faith. It also refers to how Center counselors respectfully accompany their clients through the transitions and crises of life’s journey. Center counselors seek to offer healing for the whole person and see each dimension – body, mind, and spirit – as worthy of care.

What is pastoral counseling?

Pastoral counseling is psychotherapy that takes seriously the spiritual dimension of a person while working with individuals, couples, and families to resolve emotional or relational problems. Pastoral counseling is built on the belief that life’s crises and transitions are best met by the knowledge of psychology and the wisdom of theology, with respect for a person’s faith background and values. However, only if a client so chooses will Center counselors directly address specific spiritual issues.

Pastoral counseling is not that different from other counseling or therapy. Counseling, including pastoral counseling, is a way of dealing with personal or relationship concerns, issues, or problems that a person encounters in their life. Adding the word pastoral to counseling adds a sense of openness to airing spiritual questions, and pastoral counselors may have a greater comfort level with dealing with those questions though all clinicians can be attuned to the spiritual. An important note to go with pastoral counseling is that there is openness to the spiritual questions being asked but the client has to ask the questions because the counselor will not automatically assume the client wants to talk about matters of faith.

What is spiritual direction?

Spiritual Direction can deal with the same questions that are brought to therapy, the difference is that the issues are looked at in a different light. Spiritual directors practice the art of deep listening, to be with the directee as they explore their relationship with God. There is not a real goal in mind other than to listen and find where God is working in the midst of the life of the directee. Directees come seeking a spiritual companion who will listen deeply and journey with them through the process of exploring their relationship with God.

Do I belong at the Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center even if I do not align with a religion or faith tradition?

Yes, everyone is welcome at the Center. A key point in “pastoral counseling” is that everyone’s value set and/or belief system is respected.