Pastoral Counsellors Network

2018 European Pastoral Counsellors Network

The European Pastoral Counsellors Network is for leaders involved in pastoral care or personal discipleship ministries. The Network will focus on common pastoral issues with the aim of building basic counselling skills grounded in a biblical understanding of, and approach to, the human heart. We will discuss practical issues such as how to conduct a first session, how to ask questions, and what the goal of pastoral counselling should be.

The programme wlll feature both lectures and case studies. Case studies are a very helpful way to apply theoretical principles learned in lectures and from reading in the real situations that we will meet in counselling.  Therefore, the Pastoral Counsellors Network will spend time each day discussing a relevant case study. Participants will be given a written summary of the case prior to the Forum. At the Forum, the cases will be discussed in small groups in order to provide a more participatory style of learning.

Leading this Network will be Pablo Martinez, psychiatrist and former President, Spanish Evangelical Alliance. 

Prior preparation will be set for all applicants.




Pablo Martinez is a Forum steering committee member for the European Leadership Forum. He currently works as a psychiatrist at a private practice in Barcelona. He has also developed a wide ministry as a lecturer, counsellor, and itinerant speaker. He has been a plenary Bible teacher in more than 30 countries. He was a member of the Executive Committee of the International Christian Medical and Dental Association (ICMDA) for 20 years, also serving as one of the organisation's vice-presidents. He has filled the role of President of the Spanish Evangelical Alliance (1999-2009) and Professor of Pastoral Psychology at the Spanish Theological Seminary for seven years. He is currently a member of the Sociopolitical Commission of the European Evangelical Alliance. He has authored three books, Prayer Life: How Your Personality Affects the Way You Pray, now published in fourteen languages, Tracing the Rainbow: Walking Through Loss and Bereavement, and his latest, A Thorn in the Flesh: Finding Strength and Hope Amid Suffering (Inter Varsity Press, England). He is married to Marta, a medical doctor



Ed Welch holds a PhD in counselling psychology with a neuro-psychology specialty from the University of Utah, as well as an MDiv from Biblical Theological Seminary. Ed has been counselling and teaching at the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation. for over thirty years and has written many books and articles on biblical counselling including, When People Are Big and God Is Small, Addictions: A Banquet in the Grave, Depression, Running Scared, Shame, Interrupted, and Side by Side: Walking with Others in Wisdom and Love. He and his wife, Sheri, have two married daughters and eight grandchildren. In his spare time Ed enjoys hanging out with his wife and extended family, and playing his guitar.


Richard Winter is one of the leaders of the European Christian Counsellors Network. He is Professor Emeritus of Practical Theology and Counselling at Covenant Theological Seminary in St Louis, USA. He is also a psychotherapist and counsellor who was trained in medicine and psychiatry in England before being on the staff and a director of the English branch of the L’Abri Fellowship for 14 years. He is the author of books on boredom, depression, perfectionism, and reproductive technologies.  He is married, with four children and eight grandchildren.




Day 1

The First Session in Counselling
Pablo Martinez

The first session in counselling is of paramount importance because it is the time when the foundations of a good therapeutic process are laid: warmth, trust, and understanding.  These three pillars determine a relationship where thoughts, feelings, and reactions can be expressed freely and lead to the fulfillment of the therapeutic goals. 

A Foundation and Framework for Counselling
Richard Winter

What is Christian counselling? What are foundational Biblical principles that help us to understand who we are, what has gone wrong, and who we are to become?  How do these build a framework for helping people in pastoral care and counselling towards healing and health?

Day 2

Informal Counselling

Most of our conversations take place outside of formal counselling sessions.  The everyday conversations with our family, friends, and neighbors present us with opportunities to care for and counsel people around us.  This session will attend to these shorter conversations and less formal counselling times. 

Case Study: Post-Abortion Grief
Richard Winter

We will be discussing a case of a young married woman who is experiencing grief and guilt after an abortion.  We will consider how pastoral counselling could help her untangle complex emotions about the abortion, her parents, and God’s attitude to her.  


Day 3

The Art of Listening and Asking Questions in Counselling
Pablo Martinez

The main requisite to be a good counsellor is to be a good listener. To listen carefully and empathically is deeply healing in itself. A frequent pitfall is to believe that you need to answer and “give solutions” to all the questions of the counselee. Counselling is not primarily a matter of answering questions, but asking the right questions.

Case Study: Burnout
Pablo Martinez

We will be considering a case of burnout in a pastor aged 35. The symptoms, causes, and treatment of this case will give us an opportunity to discuss some basic guidelines on the prevention of burnout.

Day 4

Growth: The Ultimate Goal of Pastoral Counselling
Pablo Martinez

The ultimate goal is not happiness but holiness. Our aim is not primarily helping the counselee to feel better, but to grow more into Christlikeness (Colossians 1: 28-29).  Feeling well cannot be separated from doing the right things. Growth into maturity, the maturity of the whole person, is the test to measure “success” in pastoral counselling. 

Case Study: Depression
Pablo Martinez

We will be considering a case of depression following a period of mourning in a woman aged 40. The differences between normal grief and depression will be considered, with a special emphasis on the pastoral support/counselling in both.     



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