St. James the Elder Theological Seminary

(904) 619-9916

"Harvesting, educating, and healing souls through the inexhaustible love of Christ"
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"The Bread of Life"
The most compelling message you will ever hear about what Holy Community really is and what Christ truly meant.
"What You Must Know About  Marriage"
Thousands of marriages have been saved or at least made joyful with these overlooked facts.
 "As a Little Child"
"Finding Your Calling and Your Self"
"AM I BAD? Recovering from Abuse" 
"Death on the Run: the Birth of the Christ"

We hope you will visit us weekly, and tell your friends. As an author and expert on child abuse, I (Father Ewart) have much to say about parenting and other family issues. And send your comments to Bishop Ewart (see HOME PAGE). Let us know if we can publish your comment or not.

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Counselor Qualifications

In most U.S.states, anybody can call himself (or herself) a Christian counselor with few, if any, qualifications. And there are numerous internet sites where you can buy a Ph.D. in nearly any subject.

Some have put these two facts together and advertised themselves as a Ph.D. in Christian counseling. I, as both a Christian and an academic, see this practice as dangerous. But it is not the job of the legislature to correct the hazard; it is the responsibility of higher-learning institutions.

Clients who place their trust in a Christian counselor have a right to expect advice and guidance that are derived from solid, essential program components. In addition, a candidate for such a degree should have some personal prerequisites.

An individual should feel a vocational calling, should be strong in faith, and have a working knowledge not only of Holy Scripture but also of church history; that is, an understanding of what has been believed and practiced by the church from the earliest times. There are millions of preachers who know well what the Bible says but yet have no idea of what it means.

A further qualification is empathy, and such is a virtue that often comes only through one's own personal suffering.

Regarding basic knowledge, a Christian counselor with a Ph.D. should be roughly on a par with a licensed clinical psychologist but yet with an added advantage, the vast positives of Christianity rightly believed and practiced.

Here I am describing an ideal situation, I admit. But reaching toward a very high goal could align us more quickly with the course we should be pursuing.

Students should acquire a strong knowledge base, but not necessarily by sitting in a classroom. Adult learners can succeed just as well, if not better, through directed independent study that is later tested. Such is also a valuable time-saver, an important fact because ample time should be allocated for experience.

Subjects to be studied well should include diagnostic criteria and guides readily available from the American Psychiatric Association. This classification system does more than label a client. It helps the future clinician understand the components of distress and disturbance.

A familiarity with research methodology is required, so that the student develops the ability to recognize a valid scientific study from a deficient one and so that he or she can pursue accurate research in a field of interest. The award of the Ph.D. should be based on a unique contribution to the field; that is, research-based.

An appreciation for the various approaches of family therapy is of great value, because mental illness does not arise out of a vacuum but out of one's surroundings.

One of my favorite sayings is that there is no normal way for a child to react to craziness in the family-or for that matter, craziness from any source. Mental distress is a reaction.

Personality development must be understood, including factors that interfere with or derail the process of becoming. In my experience, child abuse is the number-one offender because it so disrupts maturation that the personality is altered; in fact, mangled to the point that the victim develops a false self image that I term the "adopted self".

These are a few of what I see as essential components of a program that would help produce competent professionals. At the end, proof of knowledge gained must be demonstrated by a research project that is genuinely original and valuable.

Most important of all is a requirement for supervised counseling experience, at least 200 clock hours, documented. While the knowledge base is vital, it is the experience that allows the candidate to develop his own style and extend further the knowledge that has already been acquired.
















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