Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



College of Education and Human Services


Counseling, Rehabilitation Counseling & Counseling Psychology

Committee Chair

Jeffrey Daniels.


While there is considerable literature available on pastors and the ministry and much writing concerning therapists and secular counseling as well as pastoral counseling, very little has been written concerning counseling by pastors without professional counseling training. This neglected area of research is unfortunate considering many pastors are considered or required to be counselors by their churches and denominations. In addition, there is minimal training in pastoral counseling in most seminaries, leaving many pastors to assume a role for which they may be unprepared. This exploratory study used a self-report instrument specifically developed for this research endeavor to collect information about the counseling methods, ethics, and referral habits of 248 West Virginia Baptist ministers. Ministers who were formally trained in counseling theory and technique were compared to ministers who were not formally trained in counseling. The study revealed significant differences. Ministers without formal counseling training placed a greater emphasis on the use of the Bible and prayer, were more hesitant to refer their counselees, differed in their type of counseling methods, and differed on the types of clients they would counsel, as compared to those ministers with formal counseling training. The implications suggest many ministers assume a role for which they may be unprepared and may benefit from the incorporation of counseling education into their pastoral training.