Courses in Pastoral Care and Counseling

Basics of Pastoral Care and Counseling
Theoretical approaches to counseling individuals and families, developing language for care, active listening, assessment, referrals and communal resources, including two hours per week of volunteer pastoral work.

Out of the Depths: Jewish Healing and the Spiritual Caregiver
An exploration of the experience of Jews confronting illness and suffering, the historic and evolving roles of both Jewish clergy and laity in responding to these challenges, and the rich spiritual resources of the Jewish tradition.

Pastoral Theology
This course prepares students for the inevitable moment when a person suffers a calamity and turns to the clergy asking "WHY?" Through engagement with a range of sources, and with one another, students develop pastoral responses and cultivate theological beliefs which are grounded in Jewish traditions.

The Practice of Biqur Holim in Light of Traditional Jewish Sources
Biqur holim as a powerful tool to transform a community and practical guidelines for mentoring lay volunteers. We will look at halakhic, theological and spiritual dimensions of biqur holim and learn concrete methods of integrating traditional and contemporary approaches into practice and how to translate them into community action.

Rabbinic Pastoral Identity
This course will help emerging rabbis to understand their personal and professional stories within the context of psychological and faith-development theories and the Jewish tradition. Students will explore the complexities of pastoral identity within rabbinic relationships and will deepen their ability to utilize their pastoral identities in engaging with others' spiritual struggles.

Behavior Health Issues for Clergy
A course to survey the basics of many mental illness and substance abuse challenges currently facing the Jewish community, exploring the spiritual dimensions of mental health and recovery, the pastoral role of k'lei kodesh, and related problems and potentials in synagogue and Jewish communal life.

Sexuality and Gender Issues for Religious Professionals
This course will equip students to engage issues of sexuality, sexual identity and gender that emerge and develop throughout the lifespan. We will draw on traditional sources and values in dialogue with current communal realities. Critical approaches will be coupled with pastoral skill development in areas such as boundaries, marital counseling, coping with fertility issues and sexual abuse prevention and counseling.

Trauma in the United States and Israel
An opportunity to get acquainted with the broad scope of the trauma phenomenology, its collective historical sources and their inter-generational transfer, interfacing with current threats and stressors in daily life. The personal impact and post-traumatic consequences of extreme life events will be explored at various levels: Personal, familial, communal, social and the military.

Living with Chaos: Pastoral Care for Children, Adolescents, and Their Families in Times of Crisis
An introduction to the religious and spiritual needs of children, adolescents and their families in times of crisis. We will delve into relevant theory and strategies for the practice of pastoral care with an emphasis on Jewish perspectives. We will explore theological, psychological, and social dynamics which are of particular importance when this population experiences the disorienting challenges of illness, death and disability.

Students enrolled at JTS can also take advantage of the consortium agreement with Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Union Theological Seminary, and Columbia for additional options.

JTS students: For registration please visit the registrar.