In 1964 the Rev. Dr. Donald Hargrave Gross, the Rev. Dr. Everett I Campbell, and Dr. Richard L Russell together founded Pittsburgh Pastoral Institute to provide education for faith leaders who desired to increase their understanding of the relationship between religion and mental health. Over time it became apparent that pastors needed not only education but also a place where they could refer parishioners for more extensive mental health services. As a result, PPI expanded its function, becoming the longest-lived interfaith counseling center in Southwestern PA.
Over the decades PPI partnered with increasing numbers of churches across Allegheny County and in surrounding counties to provide accessible branch offices. See a full current list here.
In 1989 changes in state law brought Social Workers, Licensed Professional Counselors and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists to the fore as the legal providers of counseling. Over several years, PPI staff transitioned from being primarily pastors to primarily state licensed professionals, although PPI continues to employ many with formal theological education. The organization also maintained its belief in the importance of spirituality in the healing process and its commitment to integrating the resources of a client’s religious faith to the extent clients so desired.
In recent years PPI’s focus on education has been revived primarily in the form of half-day or one-day seminars on topics of mutual interest to pastors and counselors. PPI also provides unique services to faith leaders in the form of support groups, educational workshops held at churches, psychological testing for candidates for ordination, consulting and Clinical Pastoral Education.
PPI seeks to serve the diverse faith community of Pittsburgh in all its iterations, including Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, Christian and less clearly defined spiritualities. Services are provided free of discrimination according to age, color, ethnic origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, or disability. Among them the staff take most insurances including UPMC, UPMC for You, Highmark, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Gateway, Aetna, CHIP, Cigna, Health America, MHN, Magellan Behavioral Health, Medical Assistance, Medicare, Tricare, UBH – Optum, Value Behavioral Health and ValueOptions.
PPI is nationally certified by The Samaritan Institute and functions in accordance with Samaritan’s standards and code of ethics.