Pastoral Care & Counselling

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Building healthy students who provide quality care from the basis of emotional wholeness and spiritual passion.

The Pastoral Care and Counselling Program is designed to develop leaders who provide effective care to those in need. Students are taught to develop pastoral counselling skills to help others with issues such as mental health, spiritual struggles, and addictions. The journey includes personal development, theoretical instruction, and practical experience in pastoral counselling.


Throughout their time at Vanguard, students enrolled in the Pastoral Care and Counselling Program can expect to:

  1. Develop self-awareness and strategies for coping with personal issues that have potential to impede the delivery of quality pastoral care and counselling.
  2. Develop a worldview that guides the integration of contemporary counselling theory and biblical theology.
  3. Develop a biblical understanding of people as well as common areas of struggle that directs the practice of pastoral leadership and counselling.
  4. Develop excellent counselling skills including the ability to assess which situations need to be referred to a clinical professional.
  5. Gain practical experience in ministries that care for individuals who struggle.
  6. Prepare students wishing to continue on to graduate studies in disciplines such as counselling, chaplaincy, and spiritual direction

Year 1: Rooted in Relationship: Understanding scripture, theology, ourselves, and our roots while developing our walk with Jesus.

 Year 2: Cultivating Care: Learning to understand and care well for others while building a knowledge base of biblical and relational understanding.

Year 3: Learning to Listen: Refining counselling and leadership skills.

Year 4: Integration: Integrating theology, knowledge, skills, and relationship with Jesus into biblical and high-quality pastoral care and counselling.

Katrina's Story


"I came to Vanguard College not having a clear sense of direction, but I knew without a shadow of a doubt, that I was called by God into ministry.  I somehow ended up including the Pastoral Care & Counselling minor to my pastoral degree and my life has never been the same.  This program has taught me the importance of self-care and emotional health in my own life, in order to impact the lives of those around me.  It gives me the tools to understand people more deeply, so I can meet them exactly where they're at.  I cannot say enough good things about this program and how God is working through it in my life."


Meet The Team

Dr. Cath Thorlakson, PHD, RPSYCH

Pastoral Care and Counseling Program Director

Education: BRE, Canadian Bible College; MRE (Counselling Specialization), Canadian Theological Seminary. Phd, Educational Psychology Capella University.

Cath has been exercising her gifts in Pastoral Care & Counselling for more than 30 years. She served in various pastoral positions including worship, women, children, and young adults. She worked in leadership in camp ministry for many years, and later served as a clinical counsellor, Mental Health Therapist, and Addictions Counsellor. During these times, she provided adjunct teaching for Ambrose University College. Cath is thrilled to be able to fulfill her passion of teaching and mentoring upcoming leaders, helping them through academia successfully and on to the work that the Lord made them to do!

Frequently Asked Questions