Pastoral Care

Concentration in Pastoral Care

Concentration in Pastoral Care allows Perkins students to concentrate on theory, skills and practices of pastoral care to equip them for specialized pastoral care ministries. Specialized pastoral care ministries include but are not limited to the following: ordained clergy whose ministerial focus is pastoral care, clergy in agency settings and clergy in social outreach or social work. The concentration can serve as an introduction to professional counseling for those desiring further education and training to pursue certification with the American Association of Pastoral Counselors or the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapists. Concentration in Pastoral Care can also serve as an introduction for those desiring pursuit of a state license as a Professional Counselor and/or as a Marriage and Family Therapist. The executive director of The Pastoral Counseling and Education Center in Dallas serves as a consultant to students if they desire affiliation and advanced training beyond the foundational work offered at Perkins.


Competencies are based on theory, skills and practices.

    Competency in theory includes:

  1. a history of pastoral care
  2. multi-cultural dimensions of pastoral care
  3. paradigms in pastoral care-giving
  4. spiritual care of mind-body-soul
  5. family systems theory
  6. Competency in skills includes:

  7. empathic listening and confidentiality keeping
  8. crisis counseling, effective referral ability and personal boundary maintenance
  9. Practices will focus on:

  10. self-care and healthy lifestyle
  11. supervision through internship, Clinical Pastoral Education or spiritual direction
  12. exposure to helping agencies and community organizations of care and extension of learning into the congregational setting.

Concentration Requirements

  1. Formally register through the office of the registrar
  2. Complete nine hours of required courses
  3. Complete six additional hours of electives
  4. Complete an internship in an appropriate setting
  5. Submit a paper to the adviser at the end of the program. This paper should explore the interdisciplinary nature of the pastoral care field, focusing on all four divisions within Perkins’ course of study. In this paper, the student is expected to articulate her or his biblical paradigm in pastoral care. The appendix to the paper should include a description of the student’s efforts/participation in proactive self-care activities related to spiritual, physical and emotional health. Counseling by staff at the SMU Memorial Health Center or a licensed therapist of the student’s choice is strongly encouraged as a part of the program and as a means of self-care.
  6. Engage in an oral defense of the interdisciplinary paper. Faculty from Divisions I, II and III will be invited on a rotation basis to participate in the oral defense. Students working on the concentration should prepare for this integrative exercise from their very first introduction to courses in Division I (The Biblical Witness), Division II (The Heritage of the Christian Witness in Its Religious and Cultural Context) and Division III (Interpretation of the Christian Witness). The first series of oral defenses will be in the spring term in 2009.

The required courses will be offered each academic year. A minimum of one elective will be offered each term. An appropriate internship would be Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) in a hospital, prison or congregational setting; however, when CPE is taken as an internship, it cannot be counted for elective hours. A student may complete an internship with emphasis on pastoral care experiences and supervision approved by the Intern Office.

Required Courses and Course Options (15 hours)

The nine hours of required coursework includes:

Three term hours in PC 7321 The Caring Congregation
Three term hours in PC 7322 Pastoral Care and Family Systems
Three term hours in PC 8348 Pastoral Self-Care

The six hours of required electives may include:

Three term hours in PC 7301 Introduction to Pastoral Care
Six term hours in PC 7639 Clinical Pastoral Education (Level One - cannot be counted as an internship.)
Three term hours in PC 8301 Pastoral Care: Special Problems
Three term hours in PC 8318 Mental Health Skills for the Pastor
Three term hours in PC 8326 The Pastor’s Crisis Ministry
Three term hours in PC 8330 Pastoral Care and Counseling of Adolescents
Three term hours in PC 8333 Pastoral Care and Counseling of Women
Three term hours in PC 8335 Sexual and Domestic Violence: Theological and Pastoral Concerns
Three term hours in PC 8336 Premarital Counseling
Three term hours in PC 8341 Spirituality and the Human Life Cycle
Three term hours in NT 8365 Evil, Suffering, and Death
Three term hours in PR 8355 or WO 8355 Preaching and Worship in Life's Transitions
Three term hours in XS 8321 Witness and Ministry in a Global Context
Three term hours in XS 8331 Health Care/Holy Care