Research Paper: Biblical Counseling

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Biblical Counseling

Human physiology is remarkably complex, even for 21st century science. However, much like recent discoveries in quantum physics, as science discovers more and more about the biological basis of behavior -- or neurochemistry, the basis of behavior and addiction remain a mystery. Combining these complex quantitative facts with the Christian view of creation, and of the steadfast faith that while biological and physiological functions may seem incredibly complex to humans, they are the result of Divine creation, one can find a comparative symbiosis in a counseling approach.

Summary of Core Biblical Themes Related to Counseling and Addiction

For a Biblical Word Analysis, three counseling and three addiction words were chosen; "counsel," "wisdom," "help," "wine," "desire," and "restraint." We must understand that contextually words do not necessarily translate from English back to Aramaic, Hebrew or Greek with the same syntaxical meaning.

Word or Concept

Old Testament

New Testament

Analysis

Counsel

Hebrew word ? (ya'ats). Verbal speech or verbal advice.

Greek word ? . Counselor

74 times in 72 verses, focuses on the theme of advice

Wisdom

Hebrew word is (chokmah); skills, ethical skills, knowledge.

Greek word ? (Sophia); both man and God posses actionable knowledge.

216 times in 203 verses, linked textually and semantically with God

Help

Hebrew word is ? ('azar), to offer support or assistance.

Greek word (opheleo), or (peristemi), more focused on support.

147 times of out 140 verses, varied meanings between contexts.

Wine

Hebrew word ? (yayin), or banquet wine -- implying fermentation.

Greek word ? (oinos), also suggest wine as the blood of Christ.

262 times in 237 verses; variations between newly pressed and fermented (juice vs. wine).

Desire

More than six Herbrew words for desire. Desire as a "request" is (baqash), while ? (avah) is more "craving"

Greek words for "desire" include (thel?) or to wish; (epithymia), or lust, and its similar word (epithyme?)

11 times in 110 versus; complex and multifaceted on continuum from sexual desire to an earnest wish.

Restraint

Restraint occurs as two Hebrew words: (para), meaning to be loose or show little restraint; and as (maziyach), or girdle

Greek word (s-phrosyn?) means sanity, self-control, and sobriety

Only 4 instances in both Old and New Testaments

(Bible Gateway, n.d.; Blue Letter Bible, 2012).

The three counseling related words (counsel, wisdom and help) and the three addiction words (wine, desire, and restraint) occur at different times in the Old and New Testament. Different meanings of these words can be incorporated into the counseling setting, to help patients navigate through their crises with an experienced guide. The Bible shows that addiction counseling involves the counselor as aide, providing verbal assistance to the client. Help and succor have both practical and spiritual connotations, and both are linked to the counselor's wisdom in psychological matters. The subject of wine symbolizes the client's object of unhealthy desire, which can be controlled by judicious restraint.

Compare and Contrast Biblical Counseling with Traditional Therapy

As in any professional discipline, there are divergent. The basis for the Christen, or Biblical, approach comes from the New Testament, and the ways one can turn to the Bible to help understand crisis, and to offer comfort to those experiencing trauma. Many counselors who focus on Biblical theory believe that the very focus of the Christian life as a means of attaining grace is the unselfish devotion and compassion towards others. By using the Bible as a guide to the way of living, one can reach into contact with God's grace and power that help us inwardly have the courage and restitution to be enabled to do outwardly what we cannot do on our own. Simply relying on the core paradigms of Christian worldview or Biblical scripture to help individuals does not imply that the counselor is omnipotent or has answers that are more correct than other theories. Instead, the template focuses on the vision that the behavior and self-expression of the individual will markedly improve through open communication with God, acceptance of Jesus Christ into their lives, and the use of Christian dogma to help frame their lives. One might ask -- "How might Jesus have responded to the situation," and then move more aggressively into a solution based therapy designed specifically around Biblical wisdom (Cook, 2006).

In contrast, traditional therapies, regardless of their theoretical basis (Freudian, etc.) that do not focus on religion or spirituality, see mental illness and/or cognitive dissonance in a more constructivist approach to issues. For instance, when dealing with a subject like teen depression, there are a number of professional treatment options for adolescent depression that include differing levels of cognitive therapy. One approach that has gained a great deal of attention, particularly in the treatment of teen depression, is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). There are, of course, any number of observable and latent factors that contribute to depression, most early non-cognitive therapies focusing then on only the observable dynamics. Over time, however, research and mediation models have shown that CBT represents more of an integration of principles derived from both behavioral and cognitive theories, and allows for the treatment of a broader range of issues through social learning, cultural framing, and the appraisals, self-efficacy expectations, and individual attributions (an individual's explanation of why an event occurred) (Wright, ed., 2003). This may be combined with one-on-one talk therapy, group therapy, and even an element of medication to become most effective. The degree of therapeutic intervention, however, should depend on the intensity of the depression.

One such theorist who uses Christian principles the Reverend Doctor David Entwistle, a psychologist, author, seminarian, and Bible teacher. Entwistle believes, "Everyone has a worldview -- a window through which he or she views the world, assumptions, and beliefs that color what he or she sees." But it is through this worldview that affects the individuals' paradigm that Entwistle believes is not so much chosen as what is learned from experiences, education and culture that are more or less ingrained, not really analyzed (Entwistle, 2004, 67). Yet, at the very heart of the matter, Entwistle validates psychology as a science that pursues truth, but juxtaposes the realization that psychology and Christianity do not have to be at odds with one another, but really are compatible in that the foundation of science and Christianity both explore the relationship of the self with a higher power, whatever that power be named based on the particular society and/or culture in question. In fact, psychology and theology express the human condition between than either could individually (Entwistle, 230-34). Thus, Entwistle's view is that the depressed teen simply needs to merge with the power of God to overcome the issues they may be having, and to, in a sense, place the onus upon becoming whole with God so that they may be healed.

Adolescent addiction and behaviors are complex in any setting. Certainly, one of the challenges is diagnosing and treating adolescents revolves around the fact that during puberty, it is quite normal for individuals to experience drastic and spontaneous mood changes, irrational behaviors, excessive eating or sleeping, and loss of control over external and internal emotional constraints. For instance, parents and most adults tend to shrug off teen behavior as simply a part of growing up, and rarely find symptoms as psychological issues, particularly for addiction and depression. However, deep depression often manifests itself in feelings of self-harm or suicidal thinking. "Findings in [. . .] adolescent suicide and suicide attempts include abnormally low levels of serotonin metabolite 5 HIAA; reduction in presynaptic 5HT receptor density; increase in post synaptic 5HT receptor density"(Cohen, et.al., 1988). Another challenging counseling behavior, suicidal thoughts, may be the result of an undiagnosed personality disorder or a genetically inherited predisposition. Other views show that this may be the result of imitative thinking since after a film or news story focusing on suicide is aired, suicide rates rise (Symanski-Sanders, 2006).

This is where we can see a clear delineation between basic theories about the individual. The Christian view is that the therapeutical approach should focus on the individual finding faith in religion and trusting that to cure the illness. The traditional view holds that there are chemical, genetic and environmental causes for depression; each of which must be adequately addressed for the individual's need. Both may be valuable, but are clearly culturally relevant. However, it might be difficult to insist that a teen who was not spiritual or desirous of religious training be sent to a Christian counselor; just as it might be a mistake to take a devout Christian teen and ignore their spiritual side. If anything, the juxtaposition between these articles and their core belief systems show that an individual approach is perhaps the most efficacious way to treat patients (Yarhouse and Sells, 2008).

Similarities Between Biblical and Professional Views of Addiction Counseling

Most of the sociological theories about substance abuse tend to emphasize the manner in which the individual interacts within specific social structures. Since social structures form the core of both Biblical and Professional views of society, there are… [END OF PREVIEW]

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