Westminster Presbyterian Church

Westminster Counseling Center

What is Pastoral Counseling

Pastoral Counseling is a ministry of mental health that blends the study of religion and theology with methods of contemporary and traditional counseling and offers a holistic approach to the “care of the soul.”

Pastoral counselors are ordained clergy who have advanced education in psychology. For most individuals, pastoral counseling consists of confidential weekly visits for the purpose of working through problems that may prevent enjoyment of a full and satisfying life. When necessary, referrals can be made for drug therapy, chemical addiction and hospitalization.

How Do I Know If I Need Pastoral Counseling?

If you:

feel sad, tired, moody, uninterested in things that usually interest you and suffer from sleep disturbances;
feel panicked, anxious and fearful;
are troubled by thoughts and memories from the past;
are in a relationship in which you are, or have been, abused physically, sexually or emotionally;
find your family, friends, job, or self-esteem jeopardized by your actions or feelings;
experience dissatisfaction, lack of communication, or frequent conflict with your spouse or partner;
experience tension, confusion and anger in your relationship with your children;
feel directionless, uncertain of what you believe or what life means;
are in the midst of a major life event, such as the loss of a loved one, marriage, divorce, caring for aging parents, work stress, loss of employment or a move to a new location.
If you recognize yourself in any of these profiles, you would be treating yourself with the kindness and love you deserve if you called a pastoral counselor and explored how counseling might help you.

Counseling for Individuals

Individual counseling is a process of self-understanding and personal growth, leading to a more fulfilling life and healthier relationships with others. The counseling relationship between you and your counselor is a sacred space where you will be encouraged to explore your past and look openly at your present. Your feelings, life experiences, desires, hurts and fears will be handled in a sensitive and caring manner.

Couples and Relationships

Healthy relationships are vital to our well-being. Spousal/partnered, family, friend and co-worker relationships can benefit from mutual pastoral counseling. Old wounds, conflicts, family secrets, communication and reconciliation are areas where relationships can grow and change. Divorce and custody situations can also be significantly improved through counseling.

Family Counseling

All families experience periods of stress. Counseling helps family members improve how they interact with one another, relate in more helpful ways, resolve conflicts, problem-solve creatively and grow in areas of strength. The goal is to help family members understand and appreciate each other and live in healthier, more enjoyable ways.


The Center offers these groups:

Marriage Preparation Seminars for soon-to-be or just-married couples;
Women’s Therapy and Support Group for dealing with life-changing and relationships issues;
Men’s Group for exploring concerns about relationship issues, self esteem, depression, anxiety or parenting in a supportive and confidential setting; and
A Communications Skills Seminar for those who want new and more effective ways to communicate in all kinds of relationships–parent/child, spousal/partnered, friend, or co-worker.
Each year, the Center also offers a variety of other groups on topics such as spirituality, divorce, grief, anger and conflict resolution.
We welcome your suggestions for new groups.

Education and Consultation

The Center’s therapists are trained in various areas of expertise and are engaged in consultation with clergy staffs, churches, seminaries and other institutions in projects such as community-building, crisis management, conflict resolution, the aftermath of professional misconduct, and grief and loss issues.

In addition, the Center staff provides educational enrichment on a wide range of topics to churches and organizations in the form of lectures, seminars, discussion groups, retreats and other learning environments.

How to Make an Appointment

If you think counseling through the Westminster Counseling Center would be helpful to you, please feel free to set up an initial appointment by calling 612-332-7743. A counselor will be happy to answer any questions and, if necessary, make a referral.

The Center has a sliding fee scale based on income and general ability to pay. The fee will be discussed during your first interview with a counselor and a mutual agreement reached before the actual counseling begins.

John Henrich
Pastoral Counselor

John Henrich, Psy.D., L.P., is a licensed psychologist and a Lutheran minister. His specialty is psychological testing.

Margaret McCray
Director of Westminster Counseling Center

Margaret McCray, D. Min., is the director of the Center. She is a Presbyterian minister, a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, and a Fellow in the American Association of Pastoral Counselors. She teaches a course on systems theory for pastors.

Susan Richey Nienaber
Pastoral Counselor

Susan Richey Nienaber, M. Div., is a United Methodist minister, a licensed Associate Marriage and Family Therapist and a Fellow in the American Association of Pastoral Counselors. She is trained in the use of EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing).