What does ACC (Association of Christian Counselling) Mean by Pastoral Care?

This year I have decided to deepen my biblical knowledge to enhance my work within the Pastoral Care environment.  I frequently study at CWR/Waverley Abbey College: www.cwr.org.uk.

So what does ACC say about Pastoral Care?

Most people have a caring attitude towards others, however there is a special calling to some to practise this caring in a more significant way, both within and beyond the church, and this we understand as Pastoral Care. The term is also being used in education, personnel management and the caring professions.

Pastoral Care is an integral part of the whole ministry of the church to the world and will have a great variety of expressions. ACC acknowledges that this, perforce, means that Pastoral Care, like counselling, should be offered on a ‘no strings attached’ basis, focussed appropriately on the needs of individuals and social groups within the local church and wider community.

Caring or befriending at Christian worship and gatherings, and between Christians, should be seen as a normal activity of every Christian. When on a more formal or approved basis, however, Pastoral Care undertaken on behalf of a church or the Christian community should be under the authority and supervision of a church leader. Many of those with appropriate skills and who have experience in practising care, formally or informally, in the church setting, will also have opportunities to exercise care in the community beyond the church. Whether this is in paid or voluntary work, it is important that proper lines of accountability and/or supervision are in place for such work in the community, in addition to any oversight and support which may be available from the Church.

Those in the Pastoral Care membership of the ACC who have not received training as counsellors (probably the majority) will use many of the counselling skills but they should not give the person the impression that they are counsellors. They should clearly understand the distinction between Pastoral Care and counselling, and when it is appropriate for a referral to be made from one to the other, or to some other source of help. Also, it must be recognised that the need for confidentiality is paramount throughout.