Spiritual counsel

An art in transition

In 1993 John Patton coined the phrase “paradigm shift” to describe a dramatic turn in the practice of pastoral care. Patton pointed out that pastoral care was focusing more and more on social and cultural concerns, moving from a “clinical pastoral paradigm” to one that Patton named “communal-contextual.”

Both models evolved during the second half of the 20th century. Before that, another paradigm had prevailed throughout most of the church’s history. Pastoral care concentrated primarily and often exclusively on the gospel message. It disregarded the concrete particularities and individuality of persons and contexts and tended, as Patton said, to “universalize its understanding of human problems and express them in exclusively religious terms.”


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