pastoral counseling workshops


An Introduction to Pastoral Counseling in E.G.C./O.T.O. Settings

David G. Shoemaker, Psy.D.

Founding President, O.T.O. Psychology Guild

As most readers likely know, the O.T.O. Psychology Guild has developed a Pastoral Counseling workshop which, over the past several years, has been presented at various locations across the country at the request of U.S. Grand Lodge.  USGL generously sponsored all of these workshops, and we are grateful for their continued support and enthusiasm.  We are also very grateful to the local bodies, and their members,   who have welcomed us into their homes and temples over the past few years. 

Much of the present volume of Neshamah consists of articles drawn from the workshop, and addressing many of the key content areas presented in a live context.  While the materials presented here certainly do not replace the experience of attending a live workshop, it is hoped that they will serve as a valuable resource for those who have not yet had a chance to attend.  Additionally, for those who have already attended, these articles will be useful to have on hand as a summary of much of the material.

To qualify for attendance at the Pastoral Counseling workshop, a member must be:

--an ordained E.G.C. Bishop, Auxiliary Bishop, Priest, Priestess, or local body master, OR

--a Novice Priest or Priestess, recommended by their Bishop, and within a few months of expected ordination, AND

--at least IIIrd degree in good standing

One of the most common concerns about the Pastoral Counseling workshops (hereafter “PCW”) has been that it is impossible to train someone to be a fully-fledged pastoral counselor in a weekend.  This is a completely valid concern.  These workshops emphatically do not qualify attendees to function as professional counselors of any sort. Professional pastoral counseling accrediting agencies require graduate degrees in Divinity, or similar fields, with prior licensing/credentialing for independent therapy practice.  These qualifications are obviously far beyond our present training.   So, what does pastoral counseling in E.G.C./O.T.O. settings entail?  In other words, using professional/legal terminology, what is our “scope of practice”?  Consider these guidelines:

1. We do NOT provide psychological assessment and diagnosis

2. We do NOT provide professional emergency services

3. We DO listen attentively,  and give feedback, comfort and support

4. We DO provide spiritual guidance within a Thelemic context, while being respectful of our members’ autonomy

and self-determination.

5. We DO provide resources for referrals beyond the scope of our pastoral counseling  duties

We approached the development of the PCW from a pragmatic point of view.  That is, we were cognizant that those serving as E.G.C. clergy and as O.T.O. body masters are already in the position of being viewed by local members as sources of guidance and aid. Anyone in such a position of leadership will eventually be approached for such aid—as a trusted senior in the Order, as a visible symbol of spiritual authority, or simply as someone who seems to know a little bit more about what’s going on in the group!  Accordingly, it is in the interests of the Order and the E.G.C.  to fortify our local leaders with the basic information and training necessary to serve in these roles.  In the future, it may be possible to provide more complete training before any given individual is put into service as a local leader, but meanwhile, the PCW is designed to provide the basic tools.  These are:

1. Basic counseling skills and techniques of intervention

2. The basics of Family Dynamics and related social/psychological theories, as applied to Thelemic communities

3. Ethical and legal issues in Thelemic pastoral counseling

4. Psychiatric diagnosic categories, and basic approaches to assessment of mental illness and chemical dependency issues

5. Tools for working with Crisis Intervention, Grief Counseling, Conflict Resolution, and Sexuality issues

6. Training in the use of appropriate referrals to outside sources of assistance

We look forward to bringing the PCW to more local bodies, in the U.S. and abroad, in the coming years.  Additionally, once a member has completed the initial PCW, they qualify for attendance at “Level 2” workshops which will be developed in the future.  These workshops will deepen the theory and practice of the various content modules introduced in Level 1,  in a retreat-type setting conducive to personal reflection and integration of the material.  

If you are interested in hosting or attending a Pastoral Counseling Workshop in your area, please contact the Psychology Guild:

O.T.O. Psychology Guild

c/o 418 Lodge

P.O. Box 215503

Sacramento, CA  95821


Email:  Pastoral Counseling Workshops

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