This personal model of counseling addresses the importance of developing a biblical theory of Christian Counseling, which also integrates psychology, theology and spirituality, without diminishing the relevance of each. The working model for counselors should provide practical techniques for the inclusion of believers and non-Christians, as they work towards a personal relationship with God. This paper will discuss the personality traits, external influences that build a personal integrative theory of scientific disciplines and theological truths. The works of relevant theorists and authors will be reviewed as comparable viewpoints on Christian Counseling and how integration can benefit individuals, couples and families. The paper will begin to create a personal guideline for the author’s counseling practices with clients from all backgrounds. It will conclude with personal thoughts to identify areas for growth and improvement.
A Personal Integrated Approach to Counseling
A comprehensive personal theory of counseling should integrate Psychology, Theology and Spirituality. One of the most important goals of counseling is develop a theoretic approach through the integration of Psychology, Theology and Spirituality. Individually, each discipline offer concepts that are unique and relevant, yet separately they lack the inferences of other viewpoints that may be overlooked. There is a basic understanding for counselors to focus the treatment on the client, as well as temporal systems that exist which have influence on the client. Therefore, the intent of integrating these theories will provide the counselor with a more comprehensive wisdom and faith to combine the key elements of each to implement into their counseling practices. A concern for counselors is the prioritization of theology over psychology. This can be difficult as well as thought provoking for and individual to undertake because of the historical debate between faith and science.
An individual deeply rooted in their biblical worldview will argue that with faith, they require no further belief, while others with a secular based worldview requires the proof of statistics and data for their belief. (Entwistle, 2010, p. 9) Secular viewpoints are bound by the limitations of earthly living and its standards. The Christian viewpoint is directly related to the fact that their eternal destiny is ordained because they are a child of God. The counselor who will be successful at integration will find it necessary to increase their competence in all areas. (McMinn, 2011) states that the best at interdisciplinary integration are those that have an informal and formal preparation of both psychology and theology. While there can be preference in either theory, counselors are cautioned not to minimize the doctrines of Theology or misrepresent the clinical applications of Psychology. Personality
Development of Personality
Human personality is a set of characteristics and traits, as well as emotions and behaviors that make each person unique. An individual’s personality usually remains consistent throughout life. However, personality can be altered by an individual’s environment, temporal systems as well as traumatic events. For counselors it can be challenging when attempting to understand Human Personality without exploring the clients past. This can uncover many of the misbeliefs, hurt feelings originating in childhood that manifest into maladaptive behaviors in adulthood. (Backus & Chapian, 2000) The Christian worldview allows the understanding of all human functioning parts: The physical and the personal. The physical represents the body and the personal acknowledges the spirit or soul. A counselor’s focus is centered with both the conscious and unconscious parts of the mind where misbeliefs and attitudes are held. They must first look at the totality of a client through the use of concentric circles. This theory allows the counselor the viewpoint of the various circles that create human personality.
The innermost circle represents the self. It represents the core where the image of God, the Holy Spirit, and issues of sin reside. Also within the core is the heart where scripture shows the heart as vital function of providing life giving blood. The heart is that part of a human that chooses the basic direction they will follow in life. (Crabb, 1977) The outer layers consist of the soul of a human infused with the Holy Spirit. When we are born, we inhabit a soul that allows us to think, feel and choose. Your spirit is in union with God if he is the choice for the center of your life. Scripture notes that those who alternatively do not accept God into their life will become vulnerable to the influence of Sin and Satanic forces. Consequently, it is the choices that guide the soul and the resulting emotions, thoughts and behaviors that impact human interactions and relationships.
As you move to the outer circles there is theory that is presented that exhibits the correlation of the body and the effects on human personality. The physical circle illustrates the connection with the body and physical health as humans relate to life challenges. Our bodies alert us to potential dangers in the form of pain and discomfort. When the body is in distress, messages sent to the brain are distorted. The outcomes of physical pain, will affect a person’s mood, energy and cognitive abilities. The physical circle illustrates the connection with the body and physical health as humans relate to life challenges. (Hart, 1999) Finally, there are two components of circles in this theory. The first is the temporal system. These are the external forces or the earth systems such as family, friends, religious affiliations, economic conditions and society that create positive and negative personality traits in humans. The author Crabb suggests that humans have two basic needs; significance and security in order to function effectively. (Crabb, 1977)
When we feel secure and significant we are then deemed to be worthwhile. However, the interactions of Hawkins temporal systems will jeopardize these assurance and the results are maladaptive behaviors that lead clients to therapy. The final outer circle is supernatural systems. (Hawkins, 2009) In this system, God, Angel, Satan and Demonic forces are introduced. Spiritual forces inhabit all humans, yet there is a battle between the dark forces of Satan, and the truth in God’s word. . Author Neil Anderson describes the forces at work on the formation of human personality. (Anderson, 2000) These evil forces disguise themselves and aggressively seek to intervene with deception of the Holy Spirit. Without a personal relationship with God, Satan has opportunity to manipulate thoughts and create misbeliefs which are the direct cause of emotional turmoil, and maladaptive behaviors. (Backus & Chapian, 2000) The supernatural outer circle aids in the quest for a realization that spiritual disciplines can help begin the process for an internal change. Motivation
One of the major premises of counseling is to develop an understanding why people do what they do. An individual’s actions are directly connected to their personality profile. Behind every action there is energy or a force that results in a specific behavior. Every human has motivations that are based often on self-centered needs. The basic needs are physical which encompasses the elements critical to life, the need for emotional relationships as well as the need for significance and security. Counselors are aware that Human Need will continue and this need moves people into false outside systems in order to reach the type of gratification they desire, rather than seek a relationship with God.
That relationship indicates the temperament of the unbeliever as opposed to a believer. The unbeliever thinks of himself first, and evaluates life in terms of the world system and the behavior is motivated and designed to meet his or her own needs. While the believer will still experience misbeliefs in his conscious mind, however this individual makes a deliberate choice to evaluate his or her world based on a biblical framework. The biggest difference is the believer’s purpose is to live for Christ and exhibit behaviors that are Christ like and subsequently will receive them in return. (Crabb, 1977, p. 107)
All Humans have a desire for autonomy in the world from a very early age. This search for self-governing freedom to establish their place in the world but is conflicted by the distortion of good and evil. The boundaries or acceptable behaviors guide the decision making process. These boundaries are for self-preservation. (Cloud & Townsend, 1999) Positive choices, allow the capacity to be loving and kind to others, use physical energy creatively, and live a purpose driven life.
The alternative choice directs individuals on a path of sin and brokenness that prevents both growth and maturity. (McMinn, 2011) Without self-control individuals a counselor has the ability to guide this development process by helping them realize their position in the kingdom of God. Scripture emphasizes the purpose for an intimate relationship with God in that acknowledges a rebirth as a child of God, and confirms that life is no longer in the flesh but now life is in Christ. The intent of a counselor is to progress the client toward the development of an optimal balance of mental and spiritual health.
Every human has a viewpoint of the world that is used as base of understanding of the world and their place in it. It is model of assumptions and evaluations that impacts personality traits and behaviors and forms a standard of living. (Clinton & Ohlschlager, 2002, p. 59) Most people’s worldview are inherited rather than chosen and are shaped by cultural, religious and social influences. The presumptions can transcend into discriminatory beliefs to those who have opposing viewpoints. Counselors who are willing to address cultural difference in their client are mostly those that do not see them as impediments, but as an opportunity for growth. Individuals with an understanding & acceptance of themselves will achieve a greater sense of emotional and spiritual health.
Health and Illness
Health is more than a state of physical, mental, and social well-being. There are other components such psychological, and spiritual. The goal is achieve perfect health on all levels, however this can be challenging for clients to achieve and difficult for counselors to measure. A lifestyle that consists of a balanced diet, physical activities should result in good health; however, these alone are not sufficient. (McMinn, 2011) offers a triad approach that includes an accurate sense of self, healing relationships and an accurate sense of need. Those that are committed toward moving toward total health learn self-love and worth, to recognize needs as well as the importance of therapeutic relationships.
There are biological, physical and social systems that all contribute to the symptoms of an illness. The pain and discomfort are presented in the physical body, while anxiety, sinful behavior and other temporal systems affect health. Conflicting messages delivered to the brain trigger and imbalance of worry and stress that are manifested in personality disorders. When people try to function in areas that affect untended and unhealed hurts, they will hurt others. (Wilson, 2001)
Psychological and Spiritual Illness
Sin is a pervasive element of human condition. In biblical terms, it dates back to Adam and Eve as committing the “original” sin. It is often misused by those who commit that they are ill; therefore they engage in sinful behavior. Through the use of attributional style, decipher if mental illness or the absence of spirituality are the sources of maladaptive behaviors. (McMinn, 2011) Consequently there must be a conscious choice to identify what sin represents in preventing an intimate relationship with God. Spiritual illness is living outside the will of God who desires peace and tranquility for those who accept him in their life. James 4:17 (King James)
Integration and Multitasking
McMinn (1996) stresses the need for counselors to evaluate a client’s problems from several viewpoints simultaneously. Through a multidimensional lens, there is the ability to explore theological, psychological perspectives. Developing the ability to multi-task, integrates the science of psychology, the truth in Theology and Spirituality, with the focus on theological truth as a foundation, without diminishing the significance of other perspectives. Effective multitasking acknowledges the forces that influence personality. Nine elements including the body, the human spirit, volition, sin and temporal systems illustrate how humans can obtain a healthy balance when there is a spiritual foundation. Interdisciplinary Integration requires competence that goes beyond the understanding of theology and psychology. Spirituality is not viewed as a study of credentials. It is the personal relationship with God that confronts weaknesses and dependence on God. The author also expresses that counselors must engage in the practice of personal devotion and exploring their own spiritual beliefs, through additional training and study
Elements of Theory
This theory of counseling incorporates integrative applications of disciplines and concepts with emphasis on the core of the human as the source where the spirit resides, cognitive behaviors are developed, and personality structures emerge. As a counselor develops a plan of treatment for a client, attention must be given to both parts of a human. The material or physical self and the immaterial or spirit self. Each part of the self represents areas for the counselor to learn and explore influences on the client’s emotions and dysfunctional behavior.
My theory mirrors (Crabb, 1977) presents a unique theory of counseling which he refers to the concepts of Tossed Salad and Nothing Buttery approach to counseling. There is a balanced integration however the focus is on teaching the truth in God’s word from biblical perspective as the most important. I believe effective counseling combines the strengths of various disciplines, without diminishing or promoting one over the other. A comprehensive theory removing deeply rooted misbeliefs and replace with biblical truths. My theory leads clients into an intimate relationship with God and provides a guide to initiate the process of change. (Hawkins, 2009)
Process and Techniques
Four elements are introduced in the counseling relationships that work together in a successful counseling experience: the spirit, the counselor, the counselee and the bible. The counselor establishes trust, engages the client by attentive listening as they explore the client’s problems, and create a working process that toward goals for both counselor and client. The counselor teaches principles of integration identify patterns of healing, guides the client toward change. The client acknowledges their spiritual relationship with God, takes ownership for emotions and behaviors, and commits to change from within. True transformation begins with a renewal of the mind. (Adams, 1986)
Expectations and Effectiveness of Theory
The effectiveness of the theory is evaluated through the client progression towards a balanced h awareness of self, God, healthy relationships. (Crabb, 1977) theory suggests that success is measured in Spiritual and Psychological Maturity. The presentation of symptom relief, decreased maladaptive behaviors promote well-being. As counselors enter into experiences with our clients, we trust that God will bless their honesty and courage, as they display progression toward overall improvements in life functioning (Petrocelli, 2002)
Worldview and Influence on Theory
The basis for my theory is based on a worldview of personal experiences and reflection. It demonstrates a biblical foundation that incorporates the integration of psychology, spirituality and theology. The emphasis of theory reviews the systems surrounding the core self that affect personality, including temporal and supernatural systems. This theory allows a better understanding of the motivation behind a client’s choices.
Approach to Integration
My approach dispels the myth that Christianity is just a religious belief and psychology is just science of profession, it illustrates that combined integration counselor can understand that you can be a religious person, and still find solutions and order in the science of psychology that examines human behavior. Christianity does not inhibit scientific progress; in fact it is viewed as a major force to the further the exploration of the science. The Spoiled Egyptian Approach has a secular approach to psychology, the weeds out elements that oppose the truth in the scripture. (Crabb, 1977)
This theory is grounded in a well-balanced foundation. It addresses the theories of integration, Multitasking and Worldviews. The goal of a counselor is summarized into two parts; to lead my clients into an intimate relationship with God and guide the process of change. I believe the strong desire to help my clients begins within the heart of a counselor whose life inhabits the truth in the word of God, as a foundation for their personal theory of counseling.
Adams, J. E. (1986). How to Help People Change. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan. Anderson, N. T. (2000). The Bondage Breaker; Overcoming Negative Thoughts, Irrational Feelings, and Habitual Sins. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers. Backus, Dr., W., & Chapian, M. (2000). Telling Yourself the Truth. Bloomington, Minnesota: Bethany House Publishers. Clinton, T., & Ohlschlager, G. (2002). Competent Christian Counseling: Foundations and practices of compassionate soul care. Colorado Springs, Colorado: Waterbrook Press. Cloud, Dr., H., & Townsend, Dr., J. (1999). Boundaries in Marriage. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan. Crabb, Dr., L. (1977). Effective Biblical Counseling; A Model for Helping Caring Christians
Become Capable Counselors. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan. Entwistle, D. N. (2010). Integrative Approaches to Psychology and Christianity (2nd ed.). Eugene, Oregon: Cascade Books. Hart, Dr., A. D. (1999). The Anxiety Cure. Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc. Hawkins, R. (2009). Constructing a Theory of Counseling.
McMinn, M. R. (2011). Psychology, Theology, and Spirituality in Christian Counseling. Carol Stream, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishing. Petrocelli, J. V. (2002). Processes & Stages of Change: Counseling with the Trans theoretical model of change [journal]. Journal of Counseling & Development, 23(4). Social, cognitive processes in behavioral health; Implications for Counseling. (1995). Counseling Psychologist, 2(4). Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.liberty.edu Wilson, S. D. (2001). Hurt People, Hurt People; Hope and Healing for Yourself and Your Relationships. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Discovery House Publishers.
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