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Helping the Good Shepherd

Pastoral Counselors in a Psychotherapeutic Culture, 1925–1975

Susan E. Myers-Shirk

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This history of Protestant pastoral counseling in America examines the role of pastoral counselors in the construction and articulation of a liberal moral sensibility. Analyzing the relationship between religion and science in the twentieth century, Susan E. Myers-Shirk locates this sensibility in the counselors’ intellectual engagement with the psychological sciences.

Informed by the principles of psychology and psychoanalysis, pastoral counselors sought a middle ground between science and Christianity in advising anxious parishioners who sought their help for personal problems such as…

This history of Protestant pastoral counseling in America examines the role of pastoral counselors in the construction and articulation of a liberal moral sensibility. Analyzing the relationship between religion and science in the twentieth century, Susan E. Myers-Shirk locates this sensibility in the counselors’ intellectual engagement with the psychological sciences.

Informed by the principles of psychology and psychoanalysis, pastoral counselors sought a middle ground between science and Christianity in advising anxious parishioners who sought their help for personal problems such as troubled children, violent spouses, and alcohol and drug abuse.

Myers-Shirk finds that gender relations account in part for the great divide between the liberal and conservative moral sensibilities in pastoral counseling. She demonstrates that, as some pastoral counselors began to advocate women’s equality, conservative Christian counselors emerged, denouncing more liberal pastoral counselors and secular psychologists for disregarding biblical teachings. From there, the two sides diverged dramatically.

Helping the Good Shepherd will appeal to scholars of American religious history, the history of psychology, gender studies, and American history. For those practicing and teaching pastoral counseling, it offers historical insights into the field.

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Helping the Good Shepherd

Susan E. Myers-Shirk

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Reviews

Reviews

Myers-Shirk has provided us with a clear, rather thorough and accurate history of the pastoral care and counseling movement during the period that she treats.

Raises important and still relevant questions about the relationship of psychology, culture, and pastoral practice.

Through lucid descriptions and sensitivity to her subject, she offers a significant historical description of contemporary therapeutic presumption.

Helping the Good Shepherd defines the history of pastoral care and counseling in the United States. Scholars and practitioners in those areas will surely welcome her meticulous descriptions of key figures and debates in their field... It deserves a wide scholarly audience.

It is rare that contemporary questions about religion and health are historicized to the degree evident in this meticulously researched book.

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Book Details

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction
1. Anton Boisen and the Scientific Study of Religion
2. The Methodology of Clinical Pastoral Education
3. The Minds of Moralists
4. From Adjustment to Autonomy
5. Democracy and

Acknowledgments
Introduction
1. Anton Boisen and the Scientific Study of Religion
2. The Methodology of Clinical Pastoral Education
3. The Minds of Moralists
4. From Adjustment to Autonomy
5. Democracy and the Psychologically Autonomous Individual
6. An Ethic of Relationships
7. Gendered Moral Discourse
8. The Language of Rights and the Challenge to the Domestic Ideal
9. Resurrection of the Shepherd
10. Christian Counseling and the Conservative Moral Sensibility
Epilogue
Notes
Index

Author Bio
Resources

Additional Resources