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Bearing the Unbearable: Trauma, Gospel, and Pastoral Care

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Traumas abound. Post-traumatic stress disorder, emotional and sexual abuse, unbearable anxiety and fear, and a host of other traumas afflict people everywhere. In this book Deborah van Deusen Hunsinger weaves together threads from the fields of psychology and pastoral theology as she explores the impact of trauma on people’s lives and offers practical strategies and restorative practices for dealing with it.

Not only a teacher of pastoral theology but also an experienced pastoral counselor herself, Hunsinger draws on the resources of depth psychology, including object relations theory, trauma theory, family systems theory, nonviolent communication, and restorative circles. She then places her findings in a Christian theological context, emphasizing God’s work in and through Jesus’ passion, death, and resurrection, to present a cohesive, faith-based vision for healing.

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Key Features

  • Features a Christ-centered approach to dealing with trauma
  • Written by a pastoral counselor
  • Presents an interdisciplinary approach to recovery


  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  • Bearing the Unbearable: Trauma, Gospel, and Pastoral Care
  • Rooted and Grounded in Love: Compassionate Witnessing
  • Christian Forgiveness: Healing the Emotional Wounds of Childhood
  • Keeping an Open Heart in Troubled Times: Self-Empathy as a Christian Spiritual Practice
  • Prayers of Lament: “How Long, O Lord?”
  • Practicing Koinonia: Life Together
  • Members of One Another: Building a Restorative Church
  • Appendix 1: Criteria for PTSD: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual–5
  • Appendix 2: Professional Quality of Life Scale: Compassion Satisfaction and Fatigue Subscales—Revision IV

Praise for the Print Edition

Lovely, powerful, and rich. Deborah van Deusen Hunsinger brings to this book an analyst’s skill, a theologian’s wisdom, and a pastor’s heart, each in turn providing the language, the tools, and the hope needed in the face of great suffering . . . .This book is a treasure in our broken world.

—Katherine Sonderegger, Virginia Theological Seminary

A rich resource for pastoral caregivers and lay readers who seek to foster hope and healing in hard times . . . .Compelling and clear, Bearing the Unbearable brings into conversation a wide range of writers involved in clinical and pastoral work, synthesizing their contributions in a graceful gathering of insights that is shaped and made new by Hunsinger’s own generous reflections on the role of prayer, humility, empathy, and openness to the Holy Spirit in the intimate work of accompanying others as they walk the dark stretches on their life paths.

—Marilyn Chandler McEntyre, author of A Long Letting Go: Meditations on Losing Someone You Love

Without question, caring community is an essential source of healing for survivors of trauma. In Bearing the Unbearable Hunsinger deftly displays practical pathways for ministers and congregations to provide this key component . . . .This volume will be a valuable addition to the minister’s library, encouraging personal and relational restoration for both survivors and caregivers.

—Katherine Wiebe, Institute for Congregational Trauma and Growth

This is a splendid book of deep and practical wisdom. Each chapter gives major ideas on how to bear unbearable trauma and find pathways to healing . . . .Offers spiritual guidance as well as a wealth of information, bringing both healing and much knowledge.

—Ann Belford Ulanov, author of The Unshuttered Heart and The Healing Imagination

Hunsinger’s thoughtful exploration of a fundamental issue faced by all who witness suffering as they work will be useful to pastoral care professionals.

—Publishers Weekly

Product Details

  • Title: Bearing the Unbearable: Trauma, Gospel, and Pastoral Care
  • Author: Deborah van Deusen Hunsinger
  • Publisher: Eerdmans
  • Publication Date: 2015
  • Pages: 179
  • Resource Type: Monograph
  • Topic: Pastoral Care

Deborah van Deusen Hunsinger, Charlotte W. Newcombe Professor of Pastoral Theology at Princeton Theological Seminary, earned her M.Div. from Yale University Divinity School, and her M.Phil. and Ph.D. from Union Theological Seminary in New York City. She was also a matriculated auditor at the C.G. Jung Institute in Zurich, Switzerland. An ordained Presbyterian minister, she is interested in educating clergy and laypeople to offer theologically sound and psychologically informed pastoral care in the church. In addition to her doctoral seminars, she teaches courses on the theory and practice of pastoral care, the theological foundations and clinical skills of pastoral counseling, marriage and family, prayer and pastoral care, developing compassionate communication in the church, and the relevance of Jungian concepts and methods for pastoral care and counseling. As a Fellow in the American Association of Pastoral Counselors, she has received extensive training in a variety of therapeutic modalities, having worked with individuals, couples, families, and groups. She is a member of the Society for Pastoral Theology and of the Karl Barth Society of North America. Educating Clergy and Laypeople to Offer

Sample Pages from the Print Edition


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    Digital list price: $17.99
    Save $5.00 (27%)

    Almost funded