Using Christian Counseling to Resolve 21St Century Problems Research Paper

Pages: 31 (8475 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 3  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Psychology

We help people most when we talk to them individually" (emphasis author's) (p. 12). Likewise, Meadors (2012) emphasizes that:

The Holy Spirit is described by several names that help us see His role in counseling. Jesus calls the Holy Spirit 'the Counselor' in John 14:16 and then tells us that the Holy Spirit is always available (He abides forever), that He will help us remember Christ's teachings, that He will testify about Christ, that He will convict mankind of sin, and that He will guide us into all truth. The Holy Spirit is the one who actually applies the truths of God's Word to the believer's life. He makes theology come alive. (p. 10)

Because resources are by definition scarce and time is of the essence in helping people overcome their personal problems, it is therefore incumbent on Christian counselors to draw on the resources that will provide the most effective counseling approach and these issues are examined further in chapter two below.

2.0 Chapter Two: Review of the Literature


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Growing out of the evangelical Protestant tradition during the 1970s and early 1980s, the Christian psychiatry movement in the United States was started by Mansell Pattison, chairman of the department of psychiatry at the University of Georgia and William P. Wilson, head of biological psychiatry at Duke University (Koenig, McCullough & Larson, 2001). Both of these practitioners were well-respected psychiatrists that organized various training programs for psychiatrists seeking to incorporate Christian practices and beliefs into the psychotherapy and treatment of mental disorders (Koenig et al., 2001). By the mid-1980s and early 1990s, Christian psychiatry had Christian psychiatry units in place in tertiary health care facilities as well as independent treatment centers that were specifically developed for evangelical Christian clients (Koenig et al., 2001). Some of the best known of these Christian psychiatric networks were the Rapha mental health centers, the Minirth-Meier New Life treatment centers, and the Kairos mental health centers which were all staffed by Christian psychiatrists and mental health workers (Koenig et al., 2001). According to Koenig and his associates, "Frank Minirth and Paul Meier have written a number of popular self-help books related to this practice that have been hugely successful" (2001, p. 1195). Some other prominent psychologists that have acquired large followings over the past several years based on their many popular self-help books and family guides are Gary Collins (Christian Counseling: A Comprehensive Guide, 2007) and James Dobson (Dare to Discipline, 1970) (Koenig et al., 2001).

Likewise, in academic psychology, Allen Bergin, a Brigham Young University professor, has been instrumental in integrating religious practices and beliefs into the practice of psychotherapy (Koenig et al., 2001). In 1980, Bergin published an essay concerning psychotherapy and religious values wherein he maintained that it was not possible for psychotherapists to be fully effective unless they conceptually integrated the religious belief systems of clients into their practice (Koenig et al., 2001). According to Bergin (1980), "Religious communities that provide the combination of a viable beliefs structure and a network of loving, emotional support should manifest lower rates of emotional and social pathology and physical disease" (p. 102). This combination of a viable beliefs structure and support networks was termed "theistic psychotherapy" by Bergin. In this regard, Bergin reports that, "Theistic psychotherapy is a comprehensive orientation that includes a theistic conceptual framework, a body of religious and spiritual therapeutic interventions, and guidelines for implementing theistic perspectives and interventions" (1980, p. 99).

The connection between religions beliefs and practices and psychotherapy was made clear in Bergin's characterization of theistic psychotherapy: "The foundational assumptions of this approach are that God exists, that human beings are the creations of God, and that there are unseen spiritual processes by which the link between God and humanity is maintained" (1980, p. 99). In addition, a fundamental assumption of theistic psychotherapy is that people with faith in God's power and that draw on spiritual resources as part of their treatment regimens will experience an enhanced ability to respond to therapy and improve their life condition (Bergin, 1980). According to Richards, "No other mainstream tradition has adequately incorporated theistic spiritual perspectives and practices into its approach, and so this orientation fills a void in the field" (2009, p. 12).


Recent and Current Trends in Christian Counseling

There have been some recent initiatives designed to incorporate spirituality and religion in health care. Some of the better-known examples of health care practitioners that advocate this type of integration include Bernie Siegel, a Yale surgeon, Larry Dossey, a cardiologist from Texas and Dale Matthews, an internist headquartered in Georgetown (Koenig et al., 2001). Furthermore, Koenig and his associates also note that, "Christian physicians and dentists in the United States for the past two decades have organized themselves into the rapidly growing Christian Medical and Dental Society, which in 2000 has more than 14,000 dues-paying members around the country, 95% of whom are physicians (in 1995 it had only 7,000 members)" (2001, p. 58).

These trends have been supported in large part by the fact that many health care professionals are affiliated with religions, and a growing number of recognizing the advantages of bringing clients' religious beliefs and practices into the therapeutic relationship (Koenig et al., 2001). For example, Koenig et al. emphasize that, "The fact that a substantial number of health professionals are themselves religious, have made efforts to partner with religious professionals, and use patients' religious beliefs to speed healing contributes to the view that religion can have positive effects on health, particularly mental health" (2001, p. 58). Finally, it is reasonable to posit that improved health can be attributed to religious beliefs and practices that are founded on established religious traditions (Koenig et al., 2001).

In addition, there is sufficient evidence to suggest that religion has a positive effect on both physical and mental health (Koenig et al., 2001). For instance, Koenig et al. report that, "When religious persons are studied (persons who have chosen religion for religion's sake, not in order to be healthy), they appear to be healthier, both mentally and physically" (2001, p. 58). An important point made by these authorities, though, is that it is not generally possible to achieve improved mental and physical health if this is the sole goal of becoming religious; in fact, this extrinsic application of religion may result in worsened health conditions (Koenig et al., 2001). In fact, this tendency represents a very real threat to the efficacy of Christian counseling. As Collins (2001) points out:

My greatest criticism of the field of counseling and psychology and my greatest concern about it is that an individual who is knee-deep in sin -- I mean real old-fashioned sin, they have infidelity in their lives, or who knows what kind of dishonesty or deception or sin in all of its manifestations -- might be tempted to go to a psychologist or a counselor and talk away his guilt instead of getting on his face before God and asking for forgiveness. (Gary Collins interviewed by James Dobson, "Christians and Psychology," Focus on the Family, cassette CS502).

Therefore, there is evidence that religiosity and spirituality do in fact play an important role in facilitating improved health care outcomes, but only as an ancillary condition rather than as the sole purpose. Further, Koenig and his colleagues advise that, "What is even more important than the health effects of religion, however, is that many, many people, particularly in the United States, depend heavily on religious beliefs and practices to cope when they are physically ill" (2001, p. 59).

Although precise numbers of unavailable, a large percentage (perhaps 40% or more) of patients with medical problems rely on religion as the primary method of coping with serious health problems in some regions of the country (Koenig et al., 2001). Irrespective of the precise relationship between religion and health, the numbers of religious adherents that rely on religion first for health care means that religious practices and beliefs are highly relevant for health care practitioners (Koenig et al., 2001). In this regard, Koenig and his associates conclude that, "If many of our patients cognitively and emotionally deal with their illnesses by relying on religious faith, then health care professionals should be aware of this. Furthermore, if they are not clearly harmful to patients, these beliefs should probably be supported" (2001, p. 59).

These recommendations are reinforced by a basic principle of Christian counseling that the guidance needed to help people overcome their personal problems and family issues is readily available in the Scriptures. As Meadors points out, "

A necessary presupposition of biblical counseling is that God has indeed provided every essential truth the believer needs for a happy, fulfilling life in Christ Jesus" (2012, p. 10).

Indeed, God has provided the complete set of instructions needed by humankind to live a life free of mental and physical health problems: "His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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