Doctor of Theology in Pastoral Counseling (ThD) Degree Requirements
The program requires fifty-four semester hours. Students must be continuously enrolled. Failure to maintain continuous registration will result in automatic termination from the ThD program. Students must complete the program within six years. Extensions may be granted by the ThD committee only under unusual circumstances. The program comprises the following:
- the core seminar sequence (four courses, three semester hours each) is required during the first four semesters of study. Core seminars deal with personality theory, psychotherapy theory, and pastoral theology
- elective courses (eighteen semester hours), selected in consultation with a faculty adviser, are required during the first four semesters of study
- a pastoral counseling practicum (eighteen semester hours) is required over the first four semesters of study. The clinical setting for the practicum usually is the Pastoral Counseling Service of the Georgia Association for Pastoral Care, although other settings may be approved
- research methods seminars (six semester hours) are required over four semesters and are normally taken in the second and third years of study. These seminars are designed to assist students in developing their doctoral projects
- qualifying examinations are undertaken after completion of fifty-four semester hours of work. The examinations test competence in theory and practice of pastoral counseling
Areas of examination in pastoral counseling theory include:
- personal and interpersonal dimensions of pastoral counseling: (1) therapeutic relationship and process in relation to personality, developmental theories, psychopathology, and the psychological understanding of religion; (2) marriage and family theory and therapy, and one of the following: a) social psychological understandings of therapeutic process, b) theory of group process and leadership, c) theory and practice of pastoral consultation and supervision; (3) pastoral theological methodology, theological anthropology and related theological issues, and the relation of theology to the human sciences
- sociocultural dimensions of pastoral counseling: pastoral counseling as a profession in relation to other professions; its relation to class, race, and gender; its relation to contemporary family, work, and religion; and, its participation in larger cultural and religious traditions understood through such disciplines as cultural anthropology, cultural criticism, and feminist theory
- ecclesiological and ethical dimensions of pastoral counseling: pastoral counseling as a specialized form of the church's ministry in relation to a) the history of pastoral care and counseling; b) theological understandings of the church and its mission (ecclesiology); and, c) ethical dimensions of pastoral counseling as a professional practice
Areas of examination in pastoral counseling practice include: (1) evaluation interviewing; (2) pastoral counseling; (3) supervision; (4) professional maturity as a pastoral counselor; and (5) ability to relate pastoral counseling to the total ministerial role.
The research project and dissertation are undertaken at the end of the program of study. The student executes an approved research project that demonstrates ability to utilize theological and theoretical knowledge in relation to some problem of professional pastoral care and counseling. The project should contribute useful findings and insights in the student's area of theological investigation. The student then writes a dissertation, reporting on, analyzing, evaluating, and interpreting the project.