Pastoral Counseling

And remember, no matter where you go, there you are

People engage with pastoral counseling for help navigating life events. These events may be unexpected traumas or disasters, or even unexpected good fortune. They may also be life cycle events or other inevitable events that occur because of the passage of time. Pastoral counseling is not for people unable to function, it is for people who may want care with some religious or spiritual context. It may or may not involve religious practices. It may be appropriate for people with no established religious practices. You may just want advice or counsel from someone who does not think anything needs to be fixed. In other words, Pastoral Counseling is Life Counseling.

“I have noticed that even people who think everything is predestined, and that we can do nothing about it, look before they cross the street.”

Stephen Hawking

Why talk to me?

People report turning to clergy for many reasons. For some, the clergy can represent a moral compass in a time of confusion. For some, he or she is may be a trusted, familiar community leader. Some clergy can share the wisdom of Jewish traditions. Though the issue might not have anything to do with Jewish law, a person able to discuss problems from shared values and spiritual outlook may be helpful.

Am I such a person? During my previous careers I have worked with thousands of people confronting stress and trauma. I have been trained, and have trained others to listen to people who are struggling to find answers to many types of questions. I have been ordained as a Rabbinic Pastor, after years of study of Jewish tradition and thought. Whether or not you have a current religious affiliation, I am available as a neutral and confidential advisor. I may not have all the answers you are looking for, but together we can explore new possibilities.

If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.”

Lewis Carroll

When to talk to me?

When you feel that your life is filled with stress or difficulty, that is the time. It doesn’t have to be a full on crisis in faith. Pastoral counseling offers a context in which  healing can take place from all four worlds: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. And it provides a sanctuary in space and time, where you can truly be heard and supported.

When you find yourself with a question that appears to have a religious or spiritual component, that is the time. It may be in preparation for a celebratory event. It may be in relation to an unexpected or long contemplated loss. It may not be overly stressful, just a question you can’t answer by yourself. When should I put my child in Hebrew school, or, I don’t belong to a synagogue, how do I get a Jewish education for her? I don’t belong to a synagogue, who will do my father’s funeral? What do we need to include in our wedding? Where should I seat my brother, who  supports a politically unacceptable candidate, at our Seder? (although that may fit under the stressful category). I love my daughters boyfriend, but he is not Jewish. How do I deal with my traditional family? Will I still be accepted in my community if I come out?

When you are struggling in your current relationship, but can’t figure out what your next step should be, that is the time. You may be in a period of discernment, when you are trying to make decisions, and your spouse/partner is not at all in the same place. You need to find clarity and confidence about your direction. I can help you find a deeper understanding of what has happened to your relationship. We can also examine each persons contribution to the problems. Whether you decide to stay together, or to move ahead separately, we can figure out the most peaceful options. In fact, if you have already decided to separate, that is also the time. I urge you to get help figuring out how to separate while maintaining Shalom Bayit, peace in the home.

“When you come to a fork in the road…. take it.”

Yogi Berra

Anyone. You may be a parent (struggling with new challenges, or needing more Jewish tools in your toolbox). You may be a grandparent (with an interfaith, or even multi-faith grandchild). You may be a someone with a friend (in trouble, or ill). You may be a spouse or partner (who is worried about the others activities). You may be a child (watching your parents’ health and abilities deteriorate). Parent, grandparent, friend, spouse, partner or child. Or in any other relationship. If you have an issue, and would like to discuss it in a peaceful, nonjudgmental manner, you are the person who wants to speak with me.