There are two key terms in this thesis, namely presence and shame.
'Presence' is used broadly to refer to all forms of authentic 'being-with'. That is,
it describes genuine relationality, real meeting. Shame indicates that the self is
evaluating itself as defective, flawed, inferior in some way (e.g. morally,
intellectually, or physically).
The aims are threefold. There is an intention, first, to develop an
understanding of how genuine presence functions within pastoral care and
counselling. The second aim is to develop an understanding of how distorted
forms of presence operate in pastoral care and counselling, with a specific
reference to their shame-inducing potential. In this way, attitudes and
behaviours (often subtle) which militate against effective care (especially
through lowering self-esteem in the recipient of care) are identified in order that
they may be guarded against. The third aim is to show that shame has an
important role to play in the process through which a pastor or counsellor moves
from distorted to genuine presence.
In order to interpret presence, use is made of two notions developed by
the so-called 'dialogical philosophers', Gabriel Marcel and Martin Buber:
availability and confirmation, respectively. Availability is essentially the giving
of self for the sake of the other. One disposes of oneself in the service of
another. Confirmation is a process in which one challenges the other to reach for
his God-endowed potential.
While pastoral presence is often construed in terms of empathy and
acceptance (Carl Rogers), it is contended that Marcel and Buber offer us rich
conceptualisations which, while being closely related to Rogers' relational keys,
also take us beyond them. The primary thesis that will be argued is that in
pastoral relationships availability is before skills and techniques and
confirmation is beyond acceptance and empathy. That is, it is contended, first,
that availability is foundational in pastoral care and counselling. Without it, the
use of counselling techniques will be only minimally effective. It is also argued
that while one must ground care in acceptance of the other, it is necessary to go
beyond this to sensitively challenge her to grow into her God-given spiritual,
moral and psychological potentialities.
In moving to the relationship between distorted presence and shame,
attention will be given to the shame experienced by both the provider and the
recipient of care. The secondary thesis is that the shame feelings a pastor or
counsellor experiences as a result ofhis distorted way ofbeing present have a
potentially positive function, namely, moving him to a period ofcritical
introspection in which he may grasp a vision of a higher capacityfor genuine