SFTS CHIMES | Fall 2012
Pastoral care and counseling workshop
explores applications of spirituality
an Francisco Theological Semi-
nary hosted a workshop entitled
“Meeting at the Borders of Spiri-
tuality” in October, exploring the role
of spirituality in pastoral care and
counseling. Attended by 50 people, the
workshop was sponsored by the Pacific
Region of the American Association of
Pastoral Counselors.
Three SFTS faculty members were
featured in the workshop: Dr. Scott
Sullender, associate professor of pastoral counseling, Rev.
Laurie Garrett-Cobbina, Shaw Family Chair of Clinical
Pastoral Education, and Rev. Dr. Sam Hamilton-Poore,
director of the Program in Christian Spirituality and as-
sistant professor of Christian spirituality.
Hamilton-Poore noted that while spiritual direction has
a long history in the Christian West, it has experienced a
resurgence of interest in the last 40 years in the United
States. Hamilton-Poore oversees the seminary’s renowned
Diploma in the Art of Spiritual Direction program.
Garrett-Cobbina traced the history of CPE, including
the amazing life of Anton Boisen. She noted that spiritual-
ity in the CPE world is always “tethered to the other, to the
one who is suffering.”
Sullender pointed out that the emergence of certified
pastoral counseling, pastoral counseling as a specialized
ministry, is a product of the 20th century in the United
States, and parallels the rise of psychology as a behavioral
science and counseling as a new professional discipline. He
said that in the world of pastoral counseling, spirituality
often takes the form of theological re-
flection, particularly sensitivity to the
client’s operational theology, those as-
sumptions and “beliefs” that clients ac-
tually live by, rather than those beliefs
that they affirm on Sunday mornings.
As the audience discussion turned to
the subject of theodicy, Sullender said,
“People come to pastoral counseling be-
cause their theodicy is broken.”
Dr. David Augsburger, retiring se-
nior professor of pastoral counseling
at Fuller Theological Seminary, spoke on “Reflections on
Spirituality.” He stressed that there are three types of spiri-
tuality: unipolar spirituality, bipolar spirituality and tripo-
lar spirituality.
He defined unipolar spirituality as “spirituality from
within,” a spirituality that finds its roots in the awakening
of the self. Bipolar spirituality is “spirituality from above,”
a spirituality that is rooted in the Divine-human encounter.
Tripolar spirituality is “spirituality from below,” a spiritual-
ity that is experienced among people. Further, he argued
that the best or most mature kind of spirituality was the
tripolar spirituality because it involved all three dimensions:
self, God and other.
“I think the day was helpful, a helpful beginning, to
exploring the various expressions or models of spirituality,”
Sullender said. “It also highlighted what we, all of us in the
caring ministries, have in common, which is a sensitivity to
the spiritual needs of persons, and a recognition that spiri-
tuality is often not at the edges of the individual’s struggle
for wholeness, but at the center of that process.”
SFTS faculty members participate in a workshop sponsored by
the Pacific Region of the American Association of Pastoral Counselors.
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