To become proficient in the practice of pastoral care, pastoral counseling and pastoral supervision one must always move back and forth between reflection on theory and reflection on practice. De facto, the way one practices regularly implies a theory that is being enacted, whether the practitioner is conscious or unconscious of this fact. Conversely, the theory one espouses implies particular kinds of practice, whether or not these practices are actually being followed. A person who lacks knowledge of any theory at all will engage in practice that is willy-nilly and incompetent.
Historically, clinical pastoral training has focused on the practice of our arts through study of actual clinical cases, both in group seminars and individual supervisory sessions. Anton Boisen instituted Clinical Pastoral Training as reflection on practice in reaction against the exclusively didactic pedagogy of theological seminaries that failed to help seminarians develop the relational competence necessary for effective ministry. For Boisen, the cognitive dimensions of theological education had to interface with human experience. Theory must inform and be integrated with practice.
He derived this tenet from his study of William James, and his work at Union Theological Seminary with George Albert Coe, both of whom championed “the empirical study of religious experience.”1 In 1921 Boisen’s friend, Fred Eastman sent him a copy of Freud’s Introductory Lectures, a book that greatly excited him. Boisen’s next mentor was Richard Cabot, M.D. who “shared…the vision of including a clinical year as a part of theological study.”2 He further refined his position while working during 1923-24 in the Social Service Department of Boston Psychopathic Hospital. There he became acquainted with the methodology of the social workers who made “a careful study of all aspects of a person’s situation, including his or her religious experiences.”3
Working in each of these situations where medical and social work education was combined with clinical residencies, Boisen developed and refined his vision of interfacing academic theological and psychological concepts with the practice of ministry in clinical settings. In this way a curriculum was formed that moved between theory and practice, and the supervised reflection upon these experiences. Content was balanced with process.
Today, CPSP remains committed to this balance of content with process, theory with practice. To this end, last year I developed a bibliography for pastoral care, counseling and supervision. Now, at the request of CPSP leadership, I am offering an annotated bibliography of core psychodynamic readings – a kind of storehouse of theory to be paired with our practice. It is hoped that these readings will enhance an informed focus on our practice.
DOWNLOAD: Annotated Bibliography for Pastoral Care, Pastoral Counseling and Diplomates in Training - by David Franzen
1Vision from a Little Known Country: A Boisen Reader, Glenn H. Asquith, Jr., Ed.,
Journal of Pastoral Care Publications, Inc., 1992, pp. 4-5.
2Ibid., p. 7.
3Ibid., p. 7