Open Access Open Access  Restricted Access Subscription or Fee Access

Bridging Pastoral Psychology and Positive Psychology

Zuhâl Ağılkaya-Şahin


Following the humanistic approach in psychology around 1950, positive psychology rediscovered in 2000 the importance of positive emotions, personal strengths, and virtues for mental health and well-being. As psychology from the pastoral counselor’s point of view, pastoral psychology also emphasizes potentials and personal growth and employs the same virtues. Although they have epistemologically different roots, pastoral and positive psychology have many common features, virtues, and aims. These commonalities encourage collaboration between these disciplines. Based on such common virtues, pastoral counselors can benefit from the research findings and theories that positive psychology developed. Positive psychology conversely can benefit from the religious dimension and meaning of these virtues and enrich its practice. This essay presents common features, aims, and virtues such as forgiveness, hope, and love and suggests possibilities for collaboration between pastoral psychology and positive psychology.

Key Words:           Pastoral psychology, positive psychology, pastoral care, pastoral counseling

Full Text:



Ağılkaya-Şahin, Zuhal. 2017. Manevi Bakım ve Danışmanlık. Istanbul: Marmara Akademi Yayınları.

———. 2018. “Das Konzept der Hoffnung und Hoffnungslosigkeit in der islamischen Seelsorge.” In Grundbegriffe der Islamischen Seelsorge, edited by M. Abdallah, T. Badawia, and G. Erdem, Stuttgart: Grünewald (in press).

Arnau, Randolph, David Rosen, John Finch, Jamie Rhudy, and Vincent Fortunato. 2007. “Longitudinal Effects of Hope on Depression and Anxiety: A Latent Variable Analysis.” Journal of Personality 75 (1): 43-63.

Bandura, Albert. 1989. Social Foundation of Thoughts and Action. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Bannink, Fredrike. 2017. 201 Pozitif Psikoloji Uygulaması. Istanbul: Üsküdar Üniversitesi Yayınları.

Bay, Paul, Daniel Beckman, James Trippi, Richard Gunderman, and Colin Terry. 2008. “The Effect of Pastoral Care Services on Anxiety, Depression, Hope, Religious Coping, and Religious Problem Solving Styles: A Randomized Controlled Study.” Journal of Religion and Health 47 (1): 57-69.

Beck, Richard. 1994. “Encouragement as a Vehicle to Empowerment in Counseling: An Existential Perspective.” Journal of Rehabilitation 60 (3): 6-11.

Bloch, Eernst. 1995. The Principle of Hope. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Brandsma, Jeffrey. 1982. “Forgiveness: A Dynamic, Theological and Therapeutic Analysis.” Pastoral Psychology 31 (1): 40-50.

Britzman, Mark, and Ann Henkin. 1992. “Wellness and Personality Priorities: The Utilization of Adlerian Encouragement Strategies.” Individual Psychology 48 (2): 194-202.

Brunsdon, Alfred R. 2014. “A Three Musketeering Approach to Pastoral Care: Reflections on Collaboration between Pastoral Care, Narrative Therapy and Positive Psychology.” Verbum et Ecclesia 35 (1): 1-9.

Bunston, Terry, Deborah Mings, Andrea Mackie, and Diane Jones. 1996. “Facilitating Hopefulness: The Determinants of Hope.” Journal of Psychosocial Oncology 13 (4): 79-103.

Calvin, Jean. 1953. Institutes of the Christian Religion. Translated by Henry Beveridge. London: James Clarke & Co.

van Cappellen, Patty, Maria Toth-Gauthier, Vassilis Saroglou, and Barbara Fredrickson. 2016. “Religion and Well-Being: The Mediating Role of Positive Emotions.” Journal of Happiness Studies 17: 489-505.

Capps, Donald. 1977. “Pastoral Care and Psychology of Religion: Toward a New Alliance.” Pastoral Psychology 26 (3): 187-200.

———. 1995. Agents of Hope: A Pastoral Psychology. Eugen: Wipf & Stock.

Carns, Michael, and Ann Carns. 1998. “A Review of the Professional Literature Concerning the Consistency of the Definition and Application of Adlerian Encouragement.” Journal of Individual Psychology 54 (1): 72-89.

Carrigan, Robert. 1976. “Where Has Hope Gone? Toward and Understanding of Hope in Pastoral Care.” Pastoral Psychology 25 (1): 39-53.

Cheavens, Jennifer, and Amber Gum. 2010. “From Here to Where You Want to Be: Building the Bridges with Hope Therapy in a Case of Major Depression.” In Happiness, Healing, Enhancement: Your Casebook Collection for Applying Positive Psychology in Therapy, edited by George W. Burns, 51-63. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley & Sons.

Cheston, Sharon. 2000. “Spirituality of Encouragement.” Individual Psychology 56 (3): 296-304.

Clinebell, Howard. 1971. Modelle beratender Seelsorge. München: Kaiser.

———. 1979. Growth Counseling. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press.

———. 1981. Contemporary Growth Therapies: Resources for Actualizing Human Wholeness. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press.

Conn, Walter. 1987. “Pastoral Counseling for Self-Transcendence: The Integration of Psychology and Theology.” Pastoral Psychology 36 (1): 29-48.

Crabb, Larry. 1978. Effective Biblical Counseling. Michigan: Zondervan.

Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly. 2011. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. New York: Harper & Ross.

Curran, Charles. 1959. “A Catholic Psychologist Looks at Pastoral Counseling.” Pastoral Psychology 10: 21-28.

Davidson Jr., Charles. 1999. “A Theory of Natural Change Revisited: Theology, Psychology, and Pastoral Counseling.” Pastoral Psychology 47 (6): 425-437.

Denton, Wallace. 1964. “Hope and Its Relevance to Pastoral Counseling.” Pastoral Psychology 15 (1): 31-35.

Diener, Ed, Ed Sandvik, and William Pavot. 2009. “Happiness is the Frequency, not the Intensity of Positive Versus Negative Affect.” In Assessing Well-Being, edited by Ed Diener, 213-231. Dordrecht: Springer.

Enright, Robert, and Catherine Coyle. 1998. “Researching the Process Model of Forgiveness within Psychological Interventions.” In Dimensions of Forgiveness, edited by Everett Worthington, Jr., 139-161. Pennsylvania: Templeton Foundation Press.

Enright, Robert, and Richard Fitzgibbons. 2000. Helping Clients Forgive: An Empirical Guide for Resolving Anger and Restoring Hope. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Ergün-Başak, Bircan, and Esra Ceyan. 2011. “Psikolojik Danışman İlişkisinde Adler Yaklaşımına Göre Cesaretlendirme.” Türk Psikolojik Danışma ve Rehberlik Dergisi 4 (35): 92-101.

Ergüner-Tekinalp, Bengü. 2016. “Adleryan Kuramın Pozitif Psikoloji Bağlamında Değerlendirilmesi.” The Journal of Happiness & Well-Being 4 (1): 34-49.

Faller, George. 2001. “Positive Psychology: A Paradigm Shift.” Journal of Pastoral Counseling 36: 7-20.

Fava, Giovanni A., and Chiara Ruini. 2003. “Development and Characteristics of a Well-Being Enhancing Psychotherapeutic Strategy: Well-Being Therapy.” Journal of Behavioral Therapy and Experimental Psychology 34: 45-63.

Frankl, Viktor. 1992. Man’s Search for Meaning. Boston: Beacon Press.

Fredrickson, Barbara. 2000. “Extracting Meaning from Past Affective Experiences: The Importance of Peaks, Ends, and Specific Emotions.” Cognition and Emotion 14: 577-606.

———. 2013. Love 2.0: How Our Supreme Emotion Affects Everything We Feel, Think, Do and Become. New York: Hudson Street.

Fromm, Erich. n.d. Revolution der Hoffnung. Accessed August 1, 2018.

Gable, Shelly, and Jonathan Haidt. 2005. “What (and Why) Is Positive Psychology?.” Review of General Psychology 9 (2): 103-110.

van der Geest, Hans. 1981. Unter vier Augen. Zürich: Theologischer.

Genia, Vicky. 2000. “Religious Issues in Secularly Based Psychotherapy.” Counseling and Values 44 (3): 213-221.

Gerdes, Karen, Elizabeth Segal, Kelly Jackson, and Jennifer Mullins. 2011. “Teaching Empathy: A Framework Rooted in Social Cognitive Neurosciences and Social Justice.” Journal of Social Work Education 47 (1): 109-131.

Gerkin, Charles. 1984. The Living Human Document. Re-Visioning Pastoral Counseling in a Hermeneutical Mode. Nashville: Abingdon.

Haidt, Jonathan. 2003. “The Moral Emotions.” In Handbook of Affective Sciences, edited by Richard Davidson, Klaus Scherer, and Hill Goldsmith, 852-870. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Hamman, Jaco. 2012. “Revisiting Forgiveness as a Pastoral Theological “Problem”.” Pastoral Psychology 61: 435-450.

Haque, Amber. 2006. “Soul Searching: Bearing Witness, Psychotherapeutically to One God.” Psychoanalytic Perspectives 4 (1): 49-58.

Helminiak, Daniel. 2001. “Treating Spiritual Issues in Secular Psychotherapy.” Counseling and Values 45: 163-189.

Hill, Wayne, and Paul Mullen. 2000. “Contexts for Understanding Forgiveness and Repentance as Discovery: A Pastoral Care Perspective.” Journal of Pastoral Care 54 (3): 287-296.

Hiltner, Seward. 1950a. “Mr. Hiltner Accepts.” Pastoral Psychology 1 (4): 5-8.

———. 1950b. “The Meaning of Pastoral Psychology.” Pastoral Psychology 1 (4): 7-8.

———. 1952a. “Pastoral Psychology and Pastoral Care.” Pastoral Psychology 3 (9): 45-55.

———. 1952b. “Pastoral Psychology and Pastoral Counseling.” Pastoral Psychology 3 (8): 22-28.

Hui, Eadoin, and Daphne Ho. 2004. “Forgiveness in the Context of Developmental Guidance: Implementation and Evaluation.” British Journal of Guidance & Counselling 32 (4): 477-492.

Husain, Syed. 2005. “The Experience of Bosnia-Herzegovina: Psychosocial Consequences of War Atrocities on Children.” In Disaster and Mental Health, edited by Juan Lopez-Ibor, George Christodoulou, Mario Maj, Norman Sartorius, and Ahmed Okasha, 239-246. New York: Wiley & Sons.

Iler, Wiliam, Don Obenshain, and Mary Camac.  2001. “The Impact of Daily Visits from Chaplains on Patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): A Pilot Study.” Chaplaincy Today 17 (1): 5-9.

Joseph, Stephen, Alex Linley, and John Maltby. 2006. “Positive Psychology, Religion, and Spirituality.” Mental Health, Religion & Culture 9 (3): 209-212.

Jung, Carl Gustav. 1932. Die Beziehung der Psychotherapie zur Seelsorge. Zürich: Rascher.

Kahneman, Daniel. 1999. “Objective Happiness.” In Well-Being: The Foundation of Hedonic Psychology, edited by Daniel Kahneman, Ed Diener, and Norbert Schwarz, 3-25. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

Kara, Elif. 2009. “Dini ve Psikolojik Açıdan Bağışlayıcılığın Terapötik Değeri.” Uluslararası Sosyal Araştırmalar Dergisi 2 (8): 222-229.

Kasapoğlu, Abdurrahman. 2005. “Kur’an’a Göre Umutsuzluk-İnkâr İlişkisi.” Tabula Rasa 5 (14): 129-149.

Kempe, Hendrick. 2007. “The Tension between Psychology and Theology: An Anthropological Solution.” In Psychology & Christian Integration: Seminal Works that Shaped the Movement, edited by Daryl Stevenson, Brian Eck, and Peter Hill, 68-74. Illinois: CAPS International.

Keyes, Corey. 2003. “Complete Mental Health: An agenda for the 21st Century.” In Flourishing: Positive Psychology and the Life Well-Lived, edited by Corel Keyes and Jonathan Haidt, 185-204. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Kinghorn, Warren. 2013. “‘Hope that is seen is no hope at all:’ Theological construction of hope in psychotherapy.” Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic 77 (4): 369-394.

Klessmann, Michael. 2004. Pastoralpsychologie. Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener.

———. 2010. Seelsorge. Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener.

Koenig, Harold, Michael McCullough, and Verna Carson. 2001. Handbook of Religion and Health. New York: Oxford University Press.

Koenig, Harold. 2012. “Religion, Spirituality, and Health: The Research and Clinical Implications.” International Scholarly Research Notice Psychiatry. 1-33.

Kollar, Charles. 1997. Solution-Focused Pastoral Counseling. An Effective Short-Term Approach for Getting People Back on Track. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Köse, Ali. 2006. “Psikoloji ve Din: Bir Dargın Bir Barışık Kardeşler.” İslâmî Araştırmalar Dergisi 19 (3): I-II.

Kugelmann, Robert. 2016. Pastoral Counseling between Psychology and Religion. Accessed August 13, 2018.

Kumar, Satish, and Teenu Nandal. 2015. “Forgiveness, Faith and Health Connection.” International Journal of Education & Management Studies 5 (4): 310-314.

Kunzendorf, Robert, and Franz Buker. 2008. “Does Existential Meaning Require Hope, or is Interest Enough?” Imagination, Cognition and Personality 27 (3): 233-243.

Kwan, Simon. 2010. “Interrogating ‘Hope’ - The Pastoral Theology of Hope and Positive Psychology.” International Journal of Theology 14 (1): 47-67.

Lazarus, Arnold. 1980. “Toward Delineating Some Causes of Change in Psychotherapy.” Professional Psychology 11: 863-870.

Lester, Andrew. 1995. Hope in Pastoral Care and Counseling. Louisville: Westminster John Knox.

Levi, Ofir, Ronit Liechtentritt, and Riki Savaraya. 2012. “Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Patients Experiences of Hope.” Qualitative Health Research 22 (12): 1672-1684.

Lewis, Janet. 2005. “Forgiveness and Psychotherapy: The Prepersonal, the Personal, and the Transpersonal.” The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology 37 (2): 124-142.

Luthans, Fred, and Susan Jensen. 2002. “Hope: A New Positive Strength for Human Resource Development.” Human Resource Development Review 3 (1): 304-322.

Maltby, John, and Liz Day. 2004. “Forgiveness and Defense Style.” The Journal of Genetic Psychology 165: 99-109.

McCullough, Michael, and Everett Worthington, Jr. 1999. “Religion and Forgiving Personality.” Journal of Personality 67 (6): 1141-1164.

McGreer, Victoria. 2004. “The Art of Good Hope.” The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 592: 27-100.

Meissner, W. 1973. “Notes on the Psychology of Hope.” Journal of Religion and Health 12: 120-139.

Menninger, Karl. 1959. “The Academic Lecture on Hope.” American Journal of Psychiatry 109: 481-491.

Meredith, Cameron, and Timothy Ewans. 1990. “Encouragement in the Family.” Individual Psychology 46 (2): 187-192.

Miles, Al. 2000. Domestic Violence: What Every Pastor Needs to Know. Minneapolis: Fortress Press.

Mueller, Joan. 1998.  Is Forgiveness Possible?. Collegeville: Liturgical Press.

Mullet, Etienne, and Fabiola Azar. 2009. “Apologies, Repentance, and Forgiveness: A Muslim-Christian Comparison.” International Journal of Psychology of Religion 19 (4): 275-285.

Nidetzky, Werner. 1990. “Allgemeine Ziele der seelsorgerlichen Beratung und Begleitung.“ In Beraten und Begleiten - Handbuch für das seelsorgliche Gespraech, edited by Konrad Baumgartner and Wunnibald Müller, 51-60. Freiburg, Herder.

Ocak, Hasan. 2011. “Bir Ahlak Felsefesi Problemi Olarak Erdem Kavramına Yüklenen Anlamın İlkçağ’dan Ortaçağ’a Evrimi.” FLSF 11: 70-101.

Paloutzian, Ray, and Crystal Park. 2005. Handbook of the Psychology of Religion and Spirituality. New York: Guilford Press.

Pareek, S., and N. Mathur. 2013. “Theoretical and Practical Vision on Forgiveness: A Systematic Review of Ancient and Contemporary Literature.” Indian Journal of Positive Psychology 4 (3): 434-442.

Pitsounis, Nickolaos, and Paul Dixon. 1988. “Encouragement versus Praise: Improving Productivity of the Mentally Retarded.” Individual Psychology 44 (4): 507-512.

Plante, Thomas. 2008. “What Do the Spiritual and Religious Traditions Offer the Practicing Psychologist?.” Pastoral Psychology 56: 429-444.

Pruyser, Paul. 1963. “Phenomenology and Dynamics of Hoping.” Journal of the Scientific Study on Religion 3 (1): 87-96.

Richardson, Robert. 2000. “Where There is Hope, There is Life: Toward a Biology of Hope.” The Journal of Pastoral Care 1 (54): 75-83.

Rogers, Carl. 1950. “Why Pastoral Psychology-An Editorial.” Pastoral Psychology 1 (1): 5-6.

Rye, Mark. 2005. “The Religious Path toward Forgiveness.” Mental Health, Religion & Culture 8 (3): 205-215.

Schmid, P. F. P. 1990. “Personenzentrierte seelsorgerliche Beratung und Begleitung im Einzelgespraech.” In Beraten und Begleiten - Handbuch für das seelsorgliche Gespraech, edited by Konrad Baumgartner and Winnibald Müller, 74-82. Freiburg: Herder, 1990.

Schnabl Schweitzer, Carol. 2010. “For-giving and Forgiving: Process and Practice in Pastoral Care.” Pastoral Psychology 59: 829-842.

Seligman, Martin, and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. 2000. “Positive Psychology: An Introduction.” American Psychologist 55 (1): 5-14.

Seligman, Martin. 1992. Helplessness: On Depression, Development, and Death. New York: Freeman.

———. 2002. Authentic Happiness. New York: Free Press.

Sheldon, Kennon, and Laura King. 2001. “Why Positive Psychology Is Necessary.” American Psychologist 56 (3): 216-217.

Slife, Brent, and Jeffrey Reber. 2012. “Conceptualizing Religious Practices in Psychological Research: Problems and Prospects.” Pastoral Psychology 61: 735-746.

Smith, Nicholas. 2005. “Hope and Critical Theory.” Critical Horizons 6: 45-62.

Snodgrass, Jill. n.d. “Why Pastoral Counseling.” Accessed August 13, 2018.

———. 2007. “From Rogers to Clinebell: Exploring the History of Pastoral Psychology.” Pastoral Psychology 54: 513-525.

———. 2015. “Pastoral Counseling: A Discipline of Unity amid Diversity.” In Understanding Pastoral Counseling, edited by Elizabeth Maynard and Jill Snodgrass, 1-15. New York: Springer.

Snyder, Charles. 2002. “Hope Theory: Rainbows in the Mind.” Psychological Inquiry 13 (4): 249-275.

Snyder, Charles, David Sigmon, and David Feldman. 2002. “Hope for the Sacred and Vice Versa: Positive Goal-Directed Thinking and Religion.” Religion and Psychology 13 (3): 234-238.

Söylev, Ömer Faruk. 2015. “Psikolojik Yardım Hizmetleri Bağlamında Türkiye’de Dini Danışma ve Rehberlik.” İslam Medeniyeti Araştırmaları Dergisi 1 (2): 287-308.

Stollberg, Dietrich. 1969. Therapeutische Seelsorge. München: Kaiser.

———. 1978. Wahrnehmen und Annehmen: Seelsorge in Theorie und Praxis. Gütersloh: Mohn.

Stone, Howard, and Andrew Lester. 2001. “Hope and Possibility. Envisioning the Future in Pastoral Conversation.” The Journal of Pastoral Care 55 (3): 259-269.

Stone, Howard. 1998. Depression and Hope: New Insights for Pastoral Counseling. Minneapolis: Fortress.

Streets, Frederick. 2014. “Love: A Philosophy of Pastoral Care and Counseling.” Verbum et Ecclesia 35 (2): 1-11.

Strunk, Orlo. 1971. “Relationships of Psychology of Religion and Clinical Pastoral Education.” Pastoral Psychology 22 (8): 29-35.

Synwolt, Royal. 1971. “Pastoral Counselor-Harbinger of Hope.” Pastoral Psychology 22: 5-13.

Ting, Rachel Sing-Kiat, and Alvin Lai Oon Ng. 2012. “Use of Religious Resources in Psychotherapy from a Tradition-Sensitive Approach: Cases from Chinese in Malaysia.” Pastoral Psychology 61: 941-957.

Utsch, Michael. 2006. “Religion und Psychologie.” In Religion in der modernen Lebenswelt. Erscheinungsformen und Reflexionsperspektiven, edited by Birgit Weyel, and Wilhelm Graeb, 296-314. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.

Verhaeghe, Sofie, Florence van Zuuren, Tom Deflorr, Mia Duijnstee, and Mieke Grypdonck. 2007. “The Process and the Meaning of Hope for Family Members of Traumatic Coma Patients in Intensive Care.” Qualitative Health Research 17: 730-743.

Watts, Fraser, Kevin Dutton, and Liz Gulliford. 2006. “Human Spiritual Qualities: Integrating Psychology and Religion.” Mental Health, Religion and Culture 9: 277-289.

Watts, Fraser. 2004. “Relating the Psychology and Theology of Forgiveness.” In Forgiveness in Context: Theology and Psychology in Creative Dialogue. Edited by Fraser Watts and Liz Gulliford, 1-10. New York: T. T. & Clark.

Watts, Richard. 2003. “Adlerian Therapy as a Relational Constructivist Approach.” The Family Journal: Counseling and Therapy for Couples and Families 11 (2): 139-147.

Webb, Darren. 2007. “Modes of Hoping.” History of the Human Sciences 3 (20): 65-83.

Wiedemann, Wolfgang. 2011. Keine Angst for der Seelsorge. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.

Winkler, Klaus. 2000. Seelsorge. Berlin: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.

Withlock, Glenn. 1970. “Pastoral Psychology and Preventive Psychiatry.” Pastoral Psychology 21 (4): 9-13.

Worthington, Jr., Everett. 1998. “The Pyramid Model of Forgiveness: Some Interdisciplinary Speculations about Unforgiveness and the Promotion of Forgiveness.” In Dimensions of Forgiveness: Psychological Research & Theological Perspectives, edited by Everett Worthington, Jr., 107-137. Philadelphia: Templeton Foundation Press.

———. 1999. Hope-Focused Marriage Counseling: A Guide to Brief Therapy. Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity.

Yapıcı, Asım. 2007. Ruh Sağlığı ve Din. Adana: Karahan.

Yohani, Sophie. 2010. “Nurturing Hope in Refugee Children During Early Years of Post-war Adjustment.” Children and Youth Services Review 32 (6): 865-873.

Ziemann, Benjamin. 2006. “The Gospel of Psychology: Therapeutic Concepts and the Scientification of Pastoral Care in the West German Catholic Church, 1950-1980.” Central European History 39: 79-106.

Ziemer, Jürgen. 2000. Seelsorgelehre. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.

———. 2011. “Pastoral Psychology.” In Religion Past & Present IX, edited by Hans Dieter Betz, Don Browing, Bernd Janowski, and Eberhard Jüngel, 599-601. Leiden: Brill.

Ilahiyat Studies: A Journal on Islamic and Religious Studies, 2009-2019 eISSN 1309-1719

Design by Bursa İlahiyat Foundation