Pastoral Counselling

with Jayne MacGregor

Pastoral Counselling is a term used traditionally to represent counselling offered by priests, spiritual leaders and trained lay people from particular faith traditions – often, but not exclusively, Christian. It therefore assumes that human beings have a spiritual nature and are part of a greater spiritual reality, and seeks to minister to people from this viewpoint – at the interface between psychology and spirituality, bringing an eclectic mix of insights from both disciplines. It can be summarised as a holistic approach to counselling and therapy that honours and integrates the spiritual dimension of each person's life and experience, whilst drawing on contemporary psychological models of understanding.

I first became aware of, and interested in, pastoral counselling when I suffered from severe depressive illness and knew I needed to work through significant past experiences in my life with deep compassion. I needed to be accompanied by someone who understood and respected the spiritual dimension of life and reality. Eventually, in 1991, I underwent my own training in pastoral counselling and have had many opportunities over the years to exercise the skills I learnt in many and varied settings as a trained nurse, the spouse of a clergyman and in the context of more formal counselling situations.

My passion is to help myself and others become more whole and real on this journey of life. Deep listening and unconditional, compassionate understanding are crucial to growth and indeed my own life has been enlarged and enriched by working in this way with others. We never stop learning and growing into further wholeness and because of our inter-connectedness, this is mutual. I very much like the term 'wounded healer', first used by the Christian priest Henri Nouwen, but exemplified by the Christ. I know first hand what it is to have seemingly 'lost' myself in mental and emotional distress and to be in the darkness. Fortunately, I had access to wise, loving and skilled others to help me through. This is what I seek to offer in the work I do with others.