Online, Professional Quality Relationship / Health / Spiritual Healing and Transformation
Jan 15, 2020

What is the Difference Between State Licensed Clinicians and Pastoral Therapist/Counselors

There is often confusion for the layperson when needing to see someone for professional or personal guidance and support..  Pastoral Therapy has evolved to encompass state of the art techniques to help individuals and couples to resolve a number of physical, emotional, mental and spiritual issues.  Pastoral Counselors, however have an advantage over State Licensed Clinicians in that they are trained and able to offer a spiritual perspective  as well as mental health proven practices which include: better understanding the meaning of mental health challenges in a spiritual context or integrative vs. disintegrative values.

Pastoral Therapist are  also are trained to offer Meditation, Contemplation, Prayer, and a number of alternative healing techniques including Energy Healing Practices.  They seek to help the client or couple to better understand themselves not only on the physical, mental and emotional level but also on the spiritual level as well.  They help clients develop greater insight and reliance on spiritual principles for healing and greater relationship wellbeing.  They help clients see and understand themselves from a broader context than simply focusing on any one physical, mental, or behavioral component of a person or couple stuck or struggling with a challenge.


Pastoral Therapy is a listening art which sees the individual in his or her wholeness ie. as a leaf connected to the tree, not as a separated leaf or worst a sick diagnosed decaying leaf isolated and alone.  Pastoral Counseling honors each person from a place of totality or context of mind, body, relationship and spiritual human being.  Pastoral counseling is a practice based on empathy, compassion, healing, education of relationship and spiritual principles and values which encompasses interpersonal collaboration, and spiritual and psychological recognition.


  1. Psychotherapy, according to Webster’s dictionary, is a treatment of mental or emotional disorders or of related bodily ills by psychological means.  Traditional state licensed counselors are presented as “experts” in diagnosis and are trained to be competent in dealing with mental illnesses.  By definition, they have to abide by certain guidelines and State regulations.  In so doing something to someone with an expectation of an outcome.  Diagnostic Labels can be subpoenaed in future circumstances.   Unlike Traditional State Licensed Counselors, Pastoral Therapist/Counselors have full immunity from any future subpoenas as  all written and verbal communication is absolutely confidential and  privileged without exception.
  2. Pastoral Counselors who practice with ordainment and Pastoral Individual/Family Counseling Certifications, unlike state licensed counselors can practice throughout the United States and the world and do not need to stay within the state where they have been licensed.  I have had many of my clients call me after moving out of the state of California to other states,  stating they could not find any competent counselors in the area where they moved.  I was able to continue seeing them because of being a Pastoral Counselor.
  3. An AIWP Pastoral Counselors or Faith-Based Healers do not focus on pathology or view her/himself as a clinical diagnostician but as a partner with considerable experience who in collaboration with Spirit and a willing participant shares in the responsibility for understanding, exploring and clarifying an individual’s or couple’s developmental life pursuits. This partnership is a joint undertaking towards a better understanding and integration of one’s values and whole life experience.
  4. People who seek Pastoral Therapy/Counseling do not regard themselves as having a disorder or an illness and would not be so regarded by their counselor.  Pastoral counseling recognizes the need for an environment in which people who seek to discuss their life-concerns can be offered informed listening without reference to the clinical diagnosis or treatment of an illness.  Many pastoral therapists believe that (putting a label) on anyone is to risk giving the person that syndrome and reinforcing it.
  5. AIWP pastoral counselors, especially, do not practice and are not authorized (or licensed)  to practice clinical, diagnostic psychotherapy which focuses on the treatment of maladaptive symptom clusters comprising pathology. In fact, all AIWP Pastoral Counselors do not attempt to treat, diagnose or claim to cure any form of pathology.  This would be outside their scope of their work as ministers and Faith Based  Healers and Counselors. However, in carrying out their work as pastoral counselors they will, like all counselors/therapists  call upon various counseling and psycho-theraputic techniques and the wealth of psychological and spiritual literature.
  6.  A Pastoral Therapist/Counselors unlike Secular Traditional State Licensed Therapists also understand that the difficulties and challenges of life can be a portal for spiritual growth.  They are also free to discuss issues in a spiritual context and do not have to ethically avoid spiritual matters.
  7. Traditional State Licensed Counselors typically works on strengthening a client’s ego coping skills by teaching them success skills to interact and negotiate life to their advantage.  Pastoral Therapists/Counselors typically see therapy as a preparing process to learn the art of surrender one’s ego and cultivate spiritual faculties of discernment seeing challenges as opportunities to course correct and find greater meaning and value in life.  They teach clients contemplation and the art of listening / understanding their symptoms rather than trying to get rid of them.  Sessions are concerned with the Ultimate Truth of one’s life and living in Spiritual Reality as opposed to one’s stories and assumptions based on collected memories.

Timothy J. Ryan, Ph.D., D.Div is the Director and lead counselor at AIWP/Miracles Ministry and offers state of the art, evidenced based techniques to heal and resolve conflict on all levels.  Dr. Tim Ryan also specializes in teaching concrete skills that individuals and couples can use right away to take their life, career and relationships to the next level.




It recognizes that spiritual authority resides in the heart, not in the judgment of the client or the Counselor for that matter.

It listens for the other’s unique spirituality (the sum total of the client’s life experience.)  It is interested in what the client considers the meaning of life; where this is not known, Pastoral Counseling helps to seek this meaning. In Pastoral Counseling the goal is not necessarily cure symptoms or become normal,  but to mutually create an environment  where there is room for the mystery of life to emerge and the client can return to his/her Original Wholeness and Authentic Self.

Pastoral Counseling recognizes and accepts that an individual’s spiritual perspective is all encompassing and includes the totality of one’s life. A few examples are family history, trauma, use of past/present substances and other means of coping with painful feelings as an escape to help clients become empowered masters instead of disasters in their life. Pastoral Counselors like Traditional Counselors also are trained to help clients understand their self-defeating patterns, thoughts and behaviors, inevitable losses, separations, and non-resourceful interpersonal relationships and replace them with more meaningful ways of enriching themselves and their relationships.