I have been offering Pastoral Care counseling to the Pagan community since 2000. I feel it’s a facet of priesthood that is desperately needed and desired in our community, but very few offer it or have any formal training. Although my training comes from back when I was a pre-seminarian, I have taken several collegiate level courses on the subject and have years of experience doing it in the field.
What Pastoral Counseling Is
Pastoral counseling is a sacred relationship between the client and the counselor, where they discuss spiritual issues that the client may be facing in their life. Sometimes these issues or crises interplay with non-spiritual, real life issues like the loss of a loved one, a significant life transition, or interpersonal/relationship issues. It can also be related to spiritually important issues like starting and maintain a personal practice, finding a group to work with, learning about different spirits or Gods and how to approach Them, or suffering from “shaman sickness”. In any case, I provide an open ear, a strong shoulder, and a confidentiality guarantee. I can give advice, both based on my own life experiences as well as advice that is more divinely inspired. I am a friend, a teacher, a guide, and a mentor.
What Pastoral Counseling Isn’t
I am not a therapist. Although I am willing to talk about mental health issues and have a lot of experience working with the mentally ill, I am not a professional and I am not legally able to provide medical treatment. My hard and fast rule is that I will discuss a non-spiritual issue/crisis with you three times; beyond that, and I can will do my best to help you find a psychiatric professional to work with who is open to working with people from whatever alternative cultures you may be a part of (LGBT, Kink/Leather, Transgender, Polyamorous, Pagan, Spirit-Worker, etc) I have a good rolodex of professionals in the MD/VA/DC area who have experience with clients from these cultures who I refer clients to often and trust implicitly.
I don’t want you to think that I will force you to see a therapist, per se, but for legal reasons I have to be very careful about my practice. I know it can be very difficult, especially if you don’t live near an urban center, to find someone who can help you if your issues coincide with an alternative lifestyle; I am willing to be a friend and listen to what you’re going through, and do my best to help, but if I feel there are real medical issues at play (like clinical depression, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia) it is only in your best interest that we find you a professional. This by no means is to say that I do not take clients who have mental illness; it’s just that I cannot be your primary source for talk therapy. What I do is strictly focused on your spiritual life and journey, and although I recognize that sometimes your mundane life and your spiritual issues may go hand in hand (like, fighting your depression in order to better establish a daily practice, or being in a relationship where your partner disapproves of your spiritual choices); I will do my best to walk with you and offer what I can, but we both have to understand that my abilities only go so far.
If You’d Like To Set Up A Session
The way I approach developing a pastoral care relationship is that our first session is untimed; that is, I want to let you talk until you feel you’ve fully explained why you’ve sought me out and what your goals are for pastoral care. I usually charge a nominal fee for this session, and only if I feel that I can provide you with services in the future; if after hearing your story I feel that I cannot be of service, we part ways free of charge.
I offer these initial consultations by Skype or Google Hangout; that way, we can talk in the comfort of our own homes in private. I also do initial consultations at events I attend, if I am given notice ahead of time (so I can make sure I make enough room in my schedule to accommodate your needs). Other than at events, I do not do initial consultations in person, unless we’ve already met somewhere else.
Due to my disabilities, I prefer to hold sessions over video chat, but once we’ve established what our goals are, I may also ask or need face to face contact. This is usually in the case of teaching specific spiritual or magical skills, such as grounding, centering, and shielding. It is easier for me to know you’re on the right track if I am physically in the same room as you. I can teach these remotely via video chat, but it’s much more effective in person.
I prefer to hold sessions during afternoon hours on weekdays, but can offer night or weekend sessions from time to time.
If you would like to set up a consultation, please email me at awesome.del at gmail.com. Please put “Pastoral Care Counseling” in the subject line, and send no more than three paragraphs describing why you are seeking help at this time. I will be in touch to schedule a video chat; if we are going to be at the same event, you can also schedule an initial consult during that event, but you must email me in advance to do so.