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Pastoral Psychology and Counselling

Guest lecturer Dr Leslie Ackie is convinced that if we want to reach people for Christ, it is essential to understand what makes them tick.

I teach Pastoral Psychology and Counselling at Newbold. It is a module that gives students a chance to explore the biblical understanding of the human experience and, with an emphasis on psychology and counselling, how we can approach pastoral care. Ministering to the needs of the church and community members necessitates an appreciation of how adverse life experiences can impact people’s relational health and ability to thrive.

While the module is not designed to create counsellors in the clinical sense, it is intended to provide a foundational understanding of why people think and act the way they do. Ellen White states that ‘the true principles of psychology are found in the Holy Scriptures’. So, if we want to reach people for Christ, it is essential to understand what makes them tick.

Students immediately benefit from learning about significant counselling models and how they compare to biblical principles for spiritual and emotional wellbeing. Furthermore, the course content encourages them to reflect on their own growth as a prerequisite to providing pastoral care for others.

I believe this module is essential because it is not possible to deliver effective pastoral care without possessing relational awareness and good counselling skills. Ministry has taught me that the vast majority of our members are not so much struggling with theological or doctrinal issues as much as emotional and relational problems. Yet, we spend relatively little time equipping pastoral carers in these areas.

My experiences in ministry have shown me that addressing issues such as bereavement care, trauma-informed pastoral care, domestic abuse, emotional healing, crisis management, depression, and anxiety makes our message much more accessible and relevant to our church and community members alike. These are some of the areas we explore in the module. Even if ministers do not become proficient in addressing these issues, it is crucial that they develop the confidence to admit their limitations and know to signpost people to where they can get the help they need.


Leslie Ackie Profile Photo

Dr Leslie Ackie

Visiting lecturer in Pastoral Psychology and Counselling

Newbold alumnus Dr Leslie Ackie is the Director for Family, Children’s and Possibilities Ministries at the British Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. He is also a counsellor and authorised trainer for the premarital and marital enrichment counselling tool Prepare-Enrich.

If you’d like to learn more about our BA (Hons) in Biblical and Pastoral Studies course, contact us at [email protected]