Relevance of Pastoral Counselling in African Culture

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Pastoral and spiritual work is rooted in a history and tradition that dates back to one of the oldest forms of care for individual in need. The different faith communities have always endeavored to take care of members and people in need. A study of the religious documents of major faith traditions also reveals a particular sensitivity to and focus on the poor, suffering and marginalized, as well as situations of social injustice (http:\www.pastoral therapy\preamble.htm) Traditional healing practices have existed in many or most cultures since their beginnings as a culture. However, some of these practices were forced to become hidden during colonial times. Today, traditional healing practices are being practiced alongside contemporary Western forms of counseling and healthcare. These forms of traditional healing generally include a system of classifying and explaining illness and distress, as well as ideas about the best treatment for particular problems and how to overcome grief. Evidence suggests that traditional healers are visited by people both from their own cultural/ethnic communities and from other cultural groups. Members of certain communities may seek help from traditional healer instead of seeing a pastor, doctor or counselor for certain illnesses/problems. There are many reasons that a member of an ethnic community might opt for traditional/cultural healing instead of a pastor, doctor or counselor. For instance, Western mental health practices like therapy might be seen as ineffective or not suitable for particular types of problems as per the community culture and values. A person might be intimidated or mistrustful of Western practitioners, or there may be no services offered in his/her community or in his vernacular language. Traditional/cultural healing is qualified and legitimate within communities and sometimes it’s the first or only resource to which many turn for their healthcare and psychological/emotional needs. Throughout history, Africans have learned to care for one another in times of pain and despair. The result is that pain and death, in communal African cultures, are not individual issues but are family and communal concerns. They affect the whole family and other families. The whole community feels the pain when an individual is in pain, and usually shows its care and solidarity through spontaneous communal or mutual care. PART TWO



Community is a group of people living together as one body or bigger family. Community is families living together. They are interrelated in one way or another. Their interrelation helps them to cope with their situation. Communal pastoral care and counseling

This is an approach of counseling, which uses community resources to help each other. Care and counseling in this approach is not the function purely of one person but ideally of community to community.


The ways and means how people live and or do things as a group. The ways and means of living in this instance are mostly done instinctively. There is no formal council to monitor them.

Family includes all people related by birth, marriage and living together. Family is not limited to father, wife and children. It is the extended family that we are concerned about as a healing institution. Family is one of the elements that shape community.

Any situation that causes stress and takes away the joy of any person or community is pain. In pain tears of suffering and sorrow are shared.

Restoration of total peace and happiness of the body and mind is healing. The total healing takes into account other factors that disturb peace and happiness in people’s lives.



Communal actions can heal pain

In Africa and most of our communities things are traditionally done communally and thus care in the African context...
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