In medicine, pastoral care is "counseling or comfort given by ministers, priests, rabbis, etc., to those in need of help with emotional problems or stressful situations." , but with the context that the practitioners have training not only in religion, but formal counseling education including working in a medical team. It is not always considered complementary and alternative medicine as are spiritual therapies, although it is clearly not a mainstream medical treatment.
Pastoral counselors may practice outside a hospital environment, using recognized methods of psychotherapy but with an added religious component. They may provide, through religious resources, social work and community services.Yet another variant is when a patient requests that a clinician pray with them.