"Tillich's Influence on Pastoral Social Work" in Why Tillich? Why Now?
Chapter authored by Bill Ressl at the Center to Awaken Kindness.
Pastoral social workers are equipped with both a graduate degree in divinity and in social work, often in the form of a dual Master of Divinity (MDiv) and Master of Social Work (MSW) degree. The period of preparation can be daunting. The journey takes several years through two master's degrees, ordination, and licensure as a clinical social worker. The dual degree requires development as an interdisciplinary professional integrating principles and practical methods from pastoral theology and social work. Yet there is no integrative framework for interdisciplinary professional development or practice. Dual degree programs lack "theoretical and practical integration, dual identity formation, site development, supervisory qualifications, spiritual formation, and evaluative criteria" (Social Work and Divinity, Haworth Press, 2005). Students must attempt to put "the puzzle pieces together to form an integrated worldview" (Beth Muehlhausen, PhD Dissertation, 2010).
Tillich's life experience and theological system provides a professional and theological frame of reference for the pastoral social worker functioning between the worldviews of pastoral theology and social work. His legacy as a theologian doing social work serves as the starting point as it lifts up the importance of self-autobiography, and then guides the pastoral social worker to use important principles from Tillich's thought as a reflective frame for inter-disciplinary professional identity and practice.
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