Pastoral Counseling


  • 1x week
  • 2x month


  • The intersection of spirituality and prayer with the challenges of every day living.
  • Emotional disturbance, conflict, and developmental disruption


"The cry of the heart is the purest form of prayer we can offer God"        - St. Francis DeSale

         Pastoral Counseling recognizes the same emotional, mental, and historical conflicts that psychotherapy acknowledges, but addresses these needs in the context of the client’s ability to experience freedom and growth in their life of prayer and service. As scripture reminds us, God has set before us life and death, darkness and light – “therefore choose life!” (Deut. 29). Unfortunately, so many things can hinder our ability to make actually choose Life. Pastoral Counseling sees as its aim, the exploration and gentle amelioration of these hindrances so that the client can flourish in their life with Christ and others.  

When should l consider Pastoral Counseling? 

While pastoral counseling still uses the sound methods and techniques of psychotherapy, it also maintains a conscious and reverent awareness of the presence of God in the client's life. This is often the best choice when the client's direct goal is to experience freedom and awareness in their spiritual life. Many Christians come to psychoanalytic therapy because their relationships are in turmoil or their emotions have become overwhelming, and these issues are their primary targets. For them, spiritual formation will be a beautiful derivative of their psychotherapy. In pastoral counseling however, the primary question is usually, "What do you want Christ to do for you?," and psycho-emotional movement is often a tool and byproduct of this goal. 

Shouldn't I be seeing my priest, pastor, or mentor for Pastoral Counseling?

Yes. You should continue to seek encouragement, prayer, and guidance from your spiritual mentors. However, seeking pastoral counseling from a trained psychotherapist who can be attuned to your emotional disturbances, developmental traumas, and internal conflicts will greatly assist the growth you are wishing to accomplish in your religious/spiritual setting. You and your priest can establish your spiritual goals, while Dr. Penry listens for emotional imbalances/disruption that might hinder your free and dedicated pursuit of these goals.

Isn't all psychotherapy pastoral?

Yes and No. Dr. Penry is not a biblical counselor so no, but all psychotherapy is essential an act of love so yes. However, Dr. Penry sees a clear difference between psychoanalytic psychotherapy and pastoral counseling. Although she believes that spiritual formation is an inevitable and necessary part of any healing process, psychoanalysis need not make this formation explicit. As all of Dr. Penry's work is essentially client lead, the integration of religion and spirituality is entirely left to the client's discretion. Unless clearly stated by the client, Dr. Penry WILL NOT impose a Judeo-Christian worldview upon any client. 



"From time to time, everyone needs someone to play the role of "analyst" or "desert father or mother."...Each of us needs someone to behave towards us in such a way that our neuroses are not allowed to take over and dominate the relationship. We do not always appreciate such people, but they serve, at particular moments of revelation, to move us from the neurotic to the numinous."

- Alan Jones