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Selves In Between: Offering Care and Forging Bonds with Difference

by Ahyun Lee



ISBN: 9781945935954

Pastoral healing and helping requires forging bonds with difference.

This book is for religious professionals—pastors, pastoral counselors, therapists, and chaplains—anyone who wants a deeper understanding of healing in a ministry context. When persons seek healing through counseling, they bring embodied stories, problems, and issues—enfleshed and incarnated in a self. And it is often the task of the religious professional to help them reveal, untangled, and share that self, so that they can receive the care they need. Likewise caregivers help others through the informed, empathic use of their selves in the therapeutic relationship. Counseling, as Lee defines it, is an in-between space where two selves interface and focus such that the client can experience healing to the fullest extent possible at that time, in that place. But how should we understand a self? And how does a healthy self relate to self, others, and God?

Using the theoretical lens of Heinz Kohut’s psychotherapy, particularly the concept of selfobject, author AHyun Lee examines the importance of subjective experience of the self in search of healing. In so doing, she offers caregivers a means to develop a richer cultural and social sensitivity to work in their specific contexts, rather than drawing themselves into the normative representation and dominant expectations of others. According to Lee, Kohut empowers pastoral caregivers to enhance social bonds through mutual empowerment of solidarity. Through the healing process, caregivers and care receivers can experience the way of Jesus: loving self and neighbors through gracious hospitality while building solidarity for a better world.

Ahyun Lee is is Assistant Professor of Pastoral Care, Wesley Seminary in Indiana Wesleyan University.

Praise for Selves In Between

“Anchored in experience, Selves offers pastoral caregivers and congregational leaders a new map for navigating the relational aspects of their ministries. AHyun Lee renders a complex yet reader-friendly account of Self Psychology and its intersections with today’s multi-cultural, gendered, multi-racial, and transnational realities. It is an urgent and relevant contribution that begs for a sequel!” 

—Lallene Rector, President, Associate Professor of Psychology of Religion and Pastoral Psychotherapy, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary

“AHyun Lee’s Selves in Between Offering Care and Forging Bonds with Difference offers a needed pastoral theology of care that takes the intrapsychic and cultural context seriously. Those in congregational context will find in her book the wisdom that comes from attentive pastoral listening and a clinical orientation. For those unfamiliar with Self Psychology, her introduction is clear, succinct, and to the congregational point. AHyun Lee approaches pastoral care and counseling as a theologian with a well-developed intersectional lens. This book will help the novice pastoral counselors as well those more seasoned and ready to deepen their understanding of pastoral relationships.”  —Phillis Isabella Sheppard, PhD, E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Associate Professor of Religion, Psychology, and Culture, Vanderbilt Divinity School

Wesley’s Foundery Books is an imprint of the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry of The United Methodist Church. These books are clearly and accessibly written by Methodist/Wesleyan experts, with an emphasis on church life and ministry. Representing the rich diversity of the church, Wesley’s Foundery Books offer a disciplined and balanced approach. GHBEM Publishing is an affiliate member of the Association of University Presses. 

As the leadership agency, the mission of General Board of Higher Education and Ministry is to build capacity for United Methodist lay and clergy leaders to discover, claim, and flourish in Christ’s calling in their lives, by creating connections and providing resources to aid in recruitment, education, professional development, and spiritual formation. GBHEM Publishing produces books that engage, nurture, and advocate for the intellectual life of The United Methodist Church.

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