The Uniqueness of Pastoral Care {Section C}

The Uniqueness of Pastoral Care


Pastoral Care initiates contact and conversation, operating in the normal contexts of people's lives.

The Pilot Training Program focused on the unique character of pastoral care as distinct to other caring modalities, such as counselling, psychotherapy, social work, welfare and community work. In other caring modalities, personal connection is for the sake of impersonal and professional assessment and treatment. Pastoral care is the only caring modality in which personal connection is the prime goal of interaction. Hence the naming of pastoral care as intentional friendship.

Nowhere is this illustrated better than in the question of self disclosure by the carer. Because the nature of friendship is the mutual self disclosure of each person, pastoral care includes the skill by the carer of appropriately revealing him or herself as a person in the pastoral conversation. Other modalities have an intersubjective relationship that is not mutual and reciprocal carers does not 'give themselves away' as equals in the relationship, and the interaction is not 'free', in that the conversation is for a particular purpose and not an interaction for its own sake out of which important issues for the patient might arise. The fundamental premise of primary friendship is that the self revelation is not egocentric but is offered with an in the interest of the other person. It is that offer of friendship which then becomes valuable when the other person is interested to receive it.

An effective pastoral carer is an expert 'non expert'. The conversations he or she initiates are between two or more free and equal persons where there is no necessary assumption of 'expertise' as there is with a counsellor or therapist. It requires high levels of interpersonal skill focused in the free and equal relationship of friendship in which the carers intentions are formed in the interest of the patient or person, undergirded by a general motive of love and care.


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