Diagnosis in clinical pastoral counselling

the sanctuary model as theological anthropological framework for spiritual assessment and treatment


  • Sonya Hunt
  • Daniël Louw Stellenbosch University




theological anthropology, spiritual assessments, pastoral therapy, sanctuary model, clinical practice, diagnostic indicators, spectrum of lived experiences


The article investigates the feasibility of the sanctuary model as a possible theological anthropological framework for diagnostic and treatment purposes in clinical pastoral practice. It is argued that the wilderness tabernacle matched the criteria for qualifying as a prototype sanctuary. The building-sanctuary is viewed as a metaphorical “body” for God’s being present in, and daily engagement with, human beings throughout all life trajectories and painful events. The notion of a spirituality of sanctuary is analogously linked with similar concepts in the human body-sanctuary (soulful embodiment) in accordance with Paul’s sanctuary-related anthropological terminology. Within the framework of sanctuary thinking and the founding of a theological anthropology, indicators for the assessment of a Christian spiritual praxis in clinical environments have been derived, suitable for diagnostic assessments and treatment. It is argued that the identification of possible directives for making a spiritual assessment of a person’s state of well-being (wholeness), could provide a broader platform from which patients can describe and interpret their responses to God within the therapeutic process of pastoral caregiving. In this regard, the praxis of a clinical approach is in fact a prolongation of wisdom counselling within the parameters of the discipline of cura animarum.






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