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University of Sarasota


pastoral counseling, theoretical counseling orientations, survey instrument, pastors




The purpose of this study was to analyze theoretical counseling orientations of pastors in the Church of God Reformation Movement with general offices in Anderson, Indiana. A survey instrument, the Counseling Attitudes and Beliefs Inventory, was created, submitted to a pilot study, and sent to 650 pastors randomly selected from the 1996 Church of God Yearbook. The survey instrument, utilizing a Likert scale, gauged the pastors' agreement or disagreement with statements pertaining to three broad categories of theoretical counseling orientations. They are (1) psychodynamic, (2) experiential and relationship-oriented approaches, and (3) cognitive and other behavioral approaches. The obtained theoretical counseling orientations were tested with respect to four independent variables--the pastor's age, years of experience, education level, and congregation size. Four null hypotheses stated that there were no significant differences, at the .05 level of significance, in the theoretical counseling orientations with respect to the four independent variables, respectively.

This research indicated that the predominant theoretical counseling orientation among the pastors was experiential and relationship-oriented approaches, preferred by 45 percent of survey respondents. For this study the experiential approaches include existentialism, person-centered, and Gestalt therapies. Over thirty-three percent of respondents identified with the cognitive and behavioral approaches, and three percent identified with the psychodynamic approach. Three other categories arose as 64 respondents were equally split between two counseling orientations. Of those 64, 53, or 15.7 percent of the total, preferred both the cognitive approach and the experiential approach.

After determining the overall theoretical counseling orientation of the subject pastors, survey data were analyzed by arranging crosstabulation tables and evaluated with Chi Square tests for independence. Sixteen different crosstabulation tables were tested, and all four null hypotheses were accepted. Therefore, the independent variables (age, years of experience, congregation size, and education level) are independent of the dependent variable (theoretical counseling orientation). There are no significant differences in the pastors' theoretical counseling orientation with respect to the pastor's age, years of pastoral experience, congregation size, or education level.

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