The book begins with at brief selection as it addresses the importance of the counselor utilizing the Christian faith in counseling in addition to focusing on the relationship between psychology and theology. It addresses the issues and concerns that religion may bring into counseling sessions and how the counselor should address and handle these challenges. McMinn addresses the facts that spiritual development must take place with the client as well as the counselor. The counselor must personally address the regulation of prayer, scripture, sin, confession, forgiveness, and redemption these formulations are a necessity for smooth sessions for the client and counselor. The objective of the sessions is to create a healthy sense of self for the client.
Once this objective is achieved, the client can move from being broken, and begin a self-motivated and fulfilling relationship with God and others. In the section, Toward Psychological and Spiritual Health, McMinn focuses his main position to the varied individuality of an individual’s life. He proposes that Christian counseling strengthens three areas of a person’s life: sense of self, awareness of human need, limitations, and confiding interpersonal relationships with God and others.
The book appears to be focused on the many important attributes of a Christian’s life i.e. prayer, scripture, sin, confession, forgiveness, and redemption all which should be the foundational make-up of the Christian counselor’s method of treating client’s. Dr. McMinn (1996) believes prayer should be used in and outside of the counseling session, however; with caution. According to McMinn (1996) Christian counselors should depend upon Scripture for truth by determining how to use it appropriately. The use of scripture should be utilized as a therapeutic intervention in the counseling setting. In addition, it would solely depend upon the client’s emotional, mental and spiritual health and how it is perceived.
The chapters are formatted in a very straightforward layout. The chapters have sections to address the challenges counselors face, psychological and spiritual health focus points, and also expected results by each foundational element of counseling – psychological, theological, and spiritual. McMinn further discusses the topics of sin, redemption and forgiveness. From the text, it is apparent that the discussion of sin must be handled with care at all times. This subject should be approached with caution and only be discussed if there is a healthy client counselor relationship. Forgiveness is one of the other attributes discussed.
Forgiveness has the ability to lead an individual to a healthy and fulfilling life with others and self. It can produce spiritual, mental and emotional reprieve for a client. Redemption is the sole objective for counseling and the counselor must first recognize his redemption before he is urged to be a vessel to redeem someone else. (Ephesians 1:7-8) In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. (NIV) Christ’s redemption has freed us from guilt, being “justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24). To be redeemed we first have to be lost, separated, and captive, be in slavery, and so on. In the case of the Christian redemption definition, we are separated from God and need redemption to be able to be reconcile back to God.
This book is a very good outline of spiritual and psychological health and functioning. It gives a very detailed outline of what a Christian counselor should be. Having had some counseling sessions with my pastor in regards to debating on divorce, I was able to relate to McMinns outlines. My pastor was firm and consistent and did not waiver from the word of God as it related to my personal issue at the time. Before the sessions begin, one of the major items my pastor discussed with me was prayer.
He asked before the sessions started if I would like for him to pray and before the end of each session. He advised me that through prayer I would be able to feel the presence of God in which I did. As I became more acclimated with my relationship with God, I was able to feel his presence. However; at some points during the sessions I felt as if he was forcing his personal beliefs on me as it related to divorce. I was at a point in my life that divorce appeared to be the only option I felt I had. With prayer and the act of forgiveness and continued efforts, I was able to forgive my spouse and move forward. After my sessions, I was able to find my healthy sense of self again which lead to a more positive, healthy and productive life with my spouse.
The proficiency of counseling must be carefully implemented in order for the counselor and client to eventually envision and reap the benefits. This action may not happen in two or three sessions or may not happen at all depending upon the counselor and client’s relationship. We as Christian counselors must equip ourselves with the whole armor of God (Eph. 6:11, 13). The Holy Spirit should be in the midst of each counseling session in order for the sessions to be productive and prosperous.
McMinn (1996) intra disciplinary approach to healing the emotional, mental, and spiritual life of man must be taken in small steps. One question that comes to mind is the section which related to counseling adolescents. According to the book, a teenager appears to be the most difficult to communicate with. In view of the fact that teenagers are faced with an array of complex situations on a daily basis, how would one effectively bring across information for a teenager to perceive who is currently going through a dilemma? Would the same outline be used in treating adults?
As I read Mark McMinn’s book I began to feel a hunger and thirst for the Word of God which became more prevalent as I continued to read. My spirit began to search for more of God . It is apparent that I must fast, pray and read my bible on a daily basis so that I can focus on God and build a closer relationship with him. This book is an excellent resource for counseling for those who need guidance in incorporating spiritual disciplines in a secularly dominated society. The only way this will be instrumental in counseling is to refer to its teaching and allow the Holy Spirit to make it conducive and acceptable in the counseling session.
Many Christian counselors can use this resource to reach a level of maturity that will translate into true healing and redemption. As a Christian Counselor, I must first recognize the fact that each person is different mentally, physically and emotionally. Therefore, different methods must be utilized. There is not an outline written in stone; each session evolves into a different method according to the client and the positive or negative response of the previous sessions. The information given by McMinn has truly broadened my outlook in respects to counseling and the relationship I should have with God in reference to becoming a counselor. I would truly recommend this book to any existing counselors or those perusing a counseling career.
McMinn, Mark R. Psychology, Theology, and Spirituality In Christian Counseling. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1996.
Courtney from Study Moose
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