American Association of Pastoral Counselors

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The American Association of Pastoral Counselors was a professional organization of pastoral counselors from a variety of religious and psychological traditions. In 2019, AAPC consolidated with the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE) and now exists within the organization as the ACPE Psychotherapy Commission. [1][2]


The association defined a pastoral counselor as "a minister who practices pastoral counseling at an advanced level which integrates religious resources with insights from the behavioral sciences" and pastoral counseling as "a process in which a pastoral counselor utilizes insights and principles derived from the disciplines of theology and the behavioral sciences in working with individuals, couples, families, groups and social systems toward the achievement of wholeness and health."[3] The association is nonsectarian and includes members from a variety of faith groups.[4]

American Association of Pastoral Counselors previously certified different levels of pastoral counselors, accredited pastoral counseling centers, and approved programs to train pastoral counselors.[4][5] As of 2008, American Association of Pastoral Counselors had a membership of over 3,000 pastoral counselors and 100 pastoral counseling centers.[5]


The association was founded in 1963 with the purpose of establishing standards for professional preparation and professional ethics in what was then the relatively new field of pastoral counseling.[6][7]

Professional standards[edit]

In 2004, American Association of Pastoral Counselors joined with five other religious mental health professional organizations (Association of Professional Chaplains, Association for Clinical Pastoral Education, National Association of Catholic Chaplains, National Association of Jewish Chaplains, and Canadian Association for Pastoral Practice and Education) to establish common standards for ethics and professional conduct.[8][9]

Consolidation with ACPE[edit]

In 2019, members of AAPC voted to consolidate with the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE). AAPC as a legal entity was dissolved, and the two organizations now function as one. Former members and leaders of AAPC now exist within ACPE as the ACPE Psychotherapy Commission. [1][2]


  1. ^ a b "AAPC and ACPE Explore a Common Future". AAPC. 2019. Archived from the original on 28 March 2019. Retrieved 2010-03-27.
  2. ^ a b "Introducing the ACPE Psychotherapy Commission". ACPE. 2019. Retrieved 2019-09-11.
  3. ^ "Definitions". American Association of Pastoral Counselors. Archived from the original on 2010-10-18. Retrieved 2010-10-12.
  4. ^ a b Buckholtz, Alison (December 6, 2005). "Having Faith, Demanding Credentials". The Washington Post. Washington, D.C. Retrieved 2010-10-12.
  5. ^ a b "Other Professional Pastoral/Spiritual Care Organizations". Journal of Pastoral Care Publications. 2008. Archived from the original on 23 September 2010. Retrieved 12 October 2010.
  6. ^ Dugan, George (April 21, 1963). "Pastoral Counselors Organize Group to Establish Standards". The New York Times. p. 60. Retrieved 2010-10-12.
  7. ^ Buice, Allison (June 27, 1987). "Pastoral Counselors Increasing in Numbers". Spartanburg Herald-Journal. Spartanburg, SC. p. B3. Retrieved 2010-10-12.
  8. ^ "Common Code of Ethics for Chaplains, Pastoral Counselors, Pastoral Educators and Students" (PDF). Spiritual Care Collaborative. 2004. Archived (PDF) from the original on 27 November 2010. Retrieved 2010-10-13.
  9. ^ Snorton, Teresa E. (June 2006). "Setting Common Standards for Professional Chaplains in an Age of Diversity". Southern Medical Journal. 99 (6): 660–662. doi:10.1097/01.smj.0000222404.81215.03. PMID 16800436.

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