Pastoral Diagnosis Part 1

There are a number of different models. Three in the next few posts will be discussed. will be mentioned. The three are Pruyser’s Categories of Pastoral Diagnosis (by Paul Pryser), the FHL or Faith, Hope Love model (by Bob and Celia Munson), and the 7×7 Spiritual Assessment by George Fitchett.

1. Pruyser’s Pastoral Diagnosis

Paul Pruyser wrote a book in 1963 entitled “The Minister as a Diagnostician: Personal Problems in Pastoral Perspective.” As noted before, Pruyser, a psychologist, felt that certain areas were the strength of chaplains and if not explored by chaplains, would never be adequately explored in a clinical setting.

The seven are:

  • The Holy –– who or what is god or sacred to the patient?
  • Providence –– does the patient have a sense of God as benevolent? Is there a sense of trust?
  • Faith –– is the patient open to hope and change?
  • Grace/Gratefulness — This is about guilt and forgiveness. Is the patient will to forgive and receive forgiveness, for God, others, and self?
  • Repentance –– Is the patient truly ready to change: not merely to sit back and wait for things to get better, but to make real changes?
  • Communion –– does the patient have a support system, religiously and socially?
  • Vocation –– does the patient have a sense of “calling?” A sense of life purpose or plan?

These seven questions have had a huge impact on what chaplains focus on. However, a complaint of sorts associated with this model is the lack of guidance in how it would be utilized in practice.

Pruyser FHL 7×7
The Holy Sacred Authority/Guidance, Belief/Meaning
Providence Trust
Faith Openness Courage/Growth
Grace Grace
Repentance Repentance
Communion Community Community
Vocation Pilgrimmage Vocation/Obligation



The table above shows the differences of wording or categories of the three models presented. The first two are pretty similar, just slightly different terminology. This is to be expected because FHL is more of a way to apply Pruyser’s Model rather than as an alternative to it. 7X7 has a couple of major differences. However, both of these differences seem to stem from a distinctly different purpose. It seems as if Pruyser and FHL is meant as a diagnosis more for therapy by a pastoral counselor, while 7×7 is meant more as an assessment tool of the religious character of a patient under the care of a chaplain. Because of this, 7×7 is more focused on the religious present– with explicit concern as to patient religious rituals and experiences. Additionally, 7×7 does not explicitly focus on Grace and Repentance, which are more focused on pastoral healing or cure of the soul.

End of Part 1

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