Post Graduate Diploma in Pastoral Counseling Program

The Post Graduate Diploma of Byzantine Seminary

This is a 48-credit PGD of Arts in Pastoral Counseling program is designed for three specific populations: (1) clergy interested in becoming more skilled in responding to complexly disoriented persons and families under their care, (2) members of the helping professions looking to grow in their ability to offer their work from a strong foundation in Orthodox pastoral theology, and (3) lay persons interested in beginning in or developing in a parish-based, community-based, or diocesan-based ministry in pastoral counseling, crisis response, chaplaincy, or disaster spiritual care.

The program requires a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and evidence of Christian maturity in active parish service for admission, and will take a total of 3 years to complete. Along with taking 12 uniquely designed non-resident courses in applied Orthodox pastoral theology and the core pastoral counseling disciplines, students will participate in a two-year, 6-credit, 800-hour practicum which will combine locally-placed work in pastoral counseling with supervision during monthly video-teleconference sessions and two residency weeks. Lastly, students will complete a robust 6-credit thesis, which will be afterwards made available to parishes throughout the USA and beyond.

Along with their degree, graduates will receive two units of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE), and will be eligible to apply for board certification as either an associate pastoral counselor or an associate clinical chaplain with a number of professional pastoral care organizations. Graduates who complete practicum hours with a crisis response organization will also be eligible for a certification with the National Center for Crisis Management (NCCM).

How it Works

Every student in the program will complete the following 12 uniquely-designed courses: Fundamentals of Pastoral Counseling, Christology & Human Suffering, Pastoral Counseling Ethics, Theology of Crisis Care, Introduction to Pastoral Counseling Theories, Developmental & Cultural Aspects of Pastoral Counseling, the Sanctification of Marriage & Family Life, Pastoral Counseling Interventions with Families in Crisis, Parish-based Family Care Programming & Community Outreach, Dimensions of Spiritual Illness & Healing in the Desert Fathers, Pastoral Counseling Interventions with Individuals in Crisis & Special Populations, and Parish-based Critical Incident Response & Disaster Spiritual Care.

The integrated curriculum process includes the following educational elements:

(a) directed reading assigned by mentors,
(b) regular essays to demonstrate interaction with the material,
(c) monthly video-teleconference (VTC) sessions with a small group of cohort members and a program mentor,
(d) two residency weeks at the Antiochian Village,
(e) supervision in pastoral counseling making use of locally-placed work in ministry over 2 years,
(f) a robust thesis showing either research in a related field or practical application of course principles to a current trend in a student’s ministry.

The reading curriculum takes place during the first 2 years of the program, in 4 semesters containing 3 courses each. Strong emphasis is placed on real-time application of ideas from the course materials into local ministry, and students are encouraged to prioritize and invest most deeply in course materials that can make an immediate impact on their setting in ministry. Following the completion of the 4 reading semesters, students will advance to the thesis phase.

Supervised ministry placement will not necessarily require students to volunteer hours outside of their current work and ministry settings. Clergy, members of the helping professions, and lay persons active in volunteer ministries with suffering, disoriented, or distressed persons and families will likely be able to complete their practicum without changing their current schedule. Students who do not have such schedules already in place will work with the program supervisors to determine a local opportunity that will provide a suitable place to gain experience and contact with people in need.

Once accepted into the program, students will receive the syllabus, course goals and requirements, bibliography, and full reading lists for all four semesters, along with a practicum (CPE) handbook.