Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Karen R. Blaisure

Second Advisor

Dr. Gary H. Bischof

Third Advisor

Dr. Robert Gray Perra


Little is known about the counseling practices of Wesleyan ministers. The primary goal of this study was to provide a detailed description of what pastoral counseling consists of for Wesleyan pastors. The study examined the most common and most troubling counseling issues, the extent to which pastors felt qualified and comfortable providing pastoral counseling, the ability of pastors to counsel parishioners presenting with various issues (e.g., divorce, death, abuse, parenting), the timing of referrals and to whom referred, the number of parishioners currently counseling, the location and time of counseling sessions, and the number of counseling courses taken and perceived usefulness of these courses. The secondary focus of this study was to compare the practices of Wesleyan pastors with bachelor’s degrees and those with master’s degrees. Mean scores showed no significant difference between the groups’ ratings of their qualifications and comfort in providing pastoral counsel. Similar results occurred regarding level of comfort and qualification to provide pastoral care: no statistically significant difference was revealed. The typical Wesleyan pastor in this sample was a 47-year-old, male Senior Pastor. He was ordained, and had been a minister 17.8 years, more than 6 years in his current position. He was a college graduate, with a Bachelor’s Degree. During college, he took approximately 2 counseling classes. The typical Wesleyan pastor spent 3.82 hours (9.1% o f his working hours) in counseling each week. He was currently counseling less than 3 parishioners, addressing faith questions; marital issues; medical illness/health concerns; general individual issues; and family issues. The most troubling problems he faced in counseling were abuse and neglect; marital issues; sexual issues; and divorce. The average pastor counseled in his church office and/or his parishioners’ homes, and commonly met with them on weekdays, from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm; or evenings after 5:00 pm. Of all pastoral tasks he performed on a regular basis, counseling ranked number 5 of 6. While many of the ministers in this study felt somewhat inadequate to effectively meet the counseling demands of their parishioners, they were committed to helping their congregants as best as they could.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access