All branches of the U.S. Armed services offer Pastoral Counseling to their members.
Only 6 states license the title "Pastoral Counselor": Arkansas, Kentucky, Maine, New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Tennessee. In many other states Pastoral Counselors may qualify for licensure as Marriage and Family Therapists or as Professional Counselors.
Due to the United States Constitution and its principal of the separation of church and state, religious activities are not subject to regulation by the government to the extent secular businesses are regulated. Therefore, pastoral counseling is essentially a non-licensure track in the US. Most Pastoral Counselors will seek certification from an authorizing body and the covering of an established church to insure their religious nature is acknowledged and to prevent undue regulation from the state. Many states forbid prayer as a form of treatment by state licensed practitioners while most Pastoral Counselors will readily engage their subject in prayer. Most Pastoral Counselors do not accept assignment of their fees to insurance companies and instead encourage their clients submit requests for reimbursement. Pastoral counselors usually maintain the position that insurance belongs to the insured and that it is the responsibility of the insured to seek reimbursement of expenses. Insurance companies often will not pay for pastoral counseling by counselors without state licensing in addition to their pastoral licensing.
Pastoral Counselors typically have one or more of the following degrees or credentials: D.Min, Th.D., D.Th., D.D., D.Div, P.Th.D., S.T.D., Licensed Clinical Pastoral Counselor (L.C.P.C.), Licensed Pastoral Counselor (L.P.C.), Certified Pastoral Counselor (C.P.C.), Master of Arts Clinical Christian Counseling (M.A.C.C.C.)