Pastoral Psychology

, Volume 66, Issue 4, pp 523–536 | Cite as

Believable Visions of the Good: an Exploration of the Role of Pastoral Counselors in Promoting Resilience

  • Carmen M. SchuhmannEmail author
  • Wendy van der Geugten


Although adjustment after trauma is often positively associated with meaning, some studies challenge this connection (Bonanno, Memory, 21(1), 150–156, 2013; Silver and Updegraff 2013). In this article we elaborate on the relation between existential meaning and resilience. First, we conceptualize existential meaning—searching for and finding meaning in life—in terms of “orienting in moral space”, using the philosophical ideas of Taylor (1989), the psychological meaning-making model of Park (Psychological Bulletin, 136(2), 257–301, 2010), and existential theory. We argue that orienting systems in moral space are “believable visions of the good”. We then search recent literature on resilience—in particular literature in which the connection with meaning is challenged—for indications of a connection with existential meaning. We conclude that resilience necessarily comprises a “moral dimension” that is an adaptive process of (eventually) finding meaning in life. Finally, we discuss implications for the role that pastoral counselors, as professionals in the domain of existential meaning, may play in promoting resilience in organizations where employees regularly face existential issues like violence, suffering, and death.


Existential meaning Moral space Charles Taylor Resilience Post-traumatic growth Pastoral counseling 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Globalization and Dialogue StudiesUniversity of Humanistic StudiesUtrechtthe Netherlands

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