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Pastoral Counseling: The Art of Ascetic Witnessing


In Pastoral Counseling: The Basics (1999a) it is not the “what” or “how” of pastoral counseling that is most important. Fundamentally it is a question of identity: who—and whose—are you when you are a pastoral counselor? James Dittes answers the question of the “who” by his description of the role of the pastoral counselor as ascetic witness. This role requires the stringent discipline of self-renunciation and a surrendering of the ego. Not problem-solving, but attention to feelings, unconditional regard, and a gracious nonchalance are some of the marks of the counselor as ascetic witness.

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Gill-Austern, B.L. Pastoral Counseling: The Art of Ascetic Witnessing. Pastoral Psychology 52, 81–96 (2003).

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  • kenosis
  • ascetic witnessing
  • gracious nonchalance
  • presence
  • ascetic renunciation