Christian Perspective on Counseling Essay
Christian Perspective on Counseling
This is a personal theory paper which focuses on the Christian perspective; it involves the integration of faith and scripture into the personal counseling process. It discusses personality structures, individual differences and the motivations that guide and push the human person. Included is a contextual definition of health and the factors that cause illness. They are understood by using psychological techniques in concurrence with Biblical truths.
Employing a theological worldview for counseling helps a therapist’s awareness of the innermost complexities of a client and enables them to be an effective guide towards the path of hope and healing. Introduction Counseling is centrally and critically a relationship between people who care (Crabb, 1977). It is essential that a psychotherapist develop a genuine desire for the well-being of a client. This is an ideal arrangement for which a Christian counselor can flourish, because “Every Christian is called to a ministry of encouraging and helping others (Crabb, 1977)”.
Although an atmosphere of caring and encouragement is not limited to Christians it is ideal to integrate psychology and Christian spirituality to most effectively aid clients. Personality Personality structure and components There are many theories involving the structure of the human personality. One is the theory presented by Dr. Ron E. Hawkins (2006a). In this theory, Dr. Hawkins likens each individual to many concentric circles. Every circle is affected by the other circles but every one has its own distinctive characteristics.
This structure can best elucidate the complexities that exist inside an individual. The boundaries between circles can help determine the source of each dilemma and each circle provides a different approach to problem-solving. The first circle is the innermost circle of a person and encapsulates the very essence of being human. It is in this most personal circle that the Holy Spirit inhabits within each believer, as supported by the biblical quote “The kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21). Also included in this circle are the options of free-will and the concept of original sin.
The original sin is common to all human beings as maintained by Paul when he writes his letter to the Romans and utters, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). It must be noted that outside of issues involving deliverance, there is not much that can be dealt with in this circle by human intervention. Instead, if a problem really reverberates from this circle it must be surrendered in strong faith to the hands of God. The next circle encloses the soul, feeling, and cognitive aspects of the human being.
For most clients looking for counseling, this is the circle that receives the most focus. It is in this circle that emotional and psychological troubles not originating from biological sources resonate. The next circle in this theory of personality makeup is the biological circle. This circle consists of the biological processes and focuses on the wellness of the physical human body. Problems in this circle include chemical imbalance which is the failure to normalize the chemicals in the brain, resulting in problems like obsession, anxiety, panic attacks, paranoia, and insomnia.
Problems in this circle are more likely to have physical sources, like physical trauma or abuse. The next circle is another prevailing source of problems dealt with in counseling. The temporal circle, it is the beginning of external focused aspects. In this circle, external environmental structures like society and culture have a significant influence on the individual. Societal values and cultural expectations will always have an impact on personality development. Society, friends, family, and church are examples of the temporal systems that must be dealt with when counseling people.
Learning who the client is responsible to and what he is responsible for is essential to developing personal responsibility (Cloud & Townsend, 1992). Additionally, the influences of the client’s family system are dealt with in this circle. The Bible supports this, “fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). Many problems can be rooted from the effects of family and environment The final circle of the human personality structure is the circle of the supernatural.
This includes the archetypal epic struggle between good and evil, demons and angels. Despite this concept it is important to keep in mind that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12). The Bible states that demonic power is a real and it would be imprudent to disregard its potential. Spiritual forces have a great impact on personality development and it cannot be excluded from the growth process
Motivation There are five basic propositions about motivation:  human beings are all motivated to seek our needs,  motivational energy is channeled through the mind and results in specific behavior,  motivated behavior is always directed towards a goal,  when a goal is perceived to be impossible a state of disequilibrium exists, and finally,  all behavior is motivated and all behavior makes sense (Crabb, 1986). Motivation is a drive toward security and significance, with these thoughts in mind, Dr.
Crabb details that the definitive goal of counseling is to “free people to better worship and serve God by helping them become more like the Lord” (1977). Individual differences In counseling, the level of maturity of each client must be assessed. Individuals are in the process of ‘moving over’ and ‘moving up’, clients differ in as to where they are in the process of dealing with presenting problems in a manner consistent with scripture and developing a Christ-like character (Crabb, 1977).
Perhaps the most important reason that accounts for individual differences is that God provided free will to His creation. This free will makes each person unique and not merely a puppet with predetermined actions. Alteration of procedure used in counseling is necessary when dealing with different types of people. Some clients should be approached in a feeling level while others should be led spiritually. Cognitive based personalities are best dealt with on the thinking level and those suffering from physical disabilities are helped first with their tangible needs (Hawkins, 2006).
Health A contextual explanation of health All counselors should want their clients to become healthy. According to McMinn (1996), the three factors that determine health are: accurate awareness of self, accurate awareness of needs and involvement in healthy relationships. Basing self-worth on the word of God is an effective strategy; to be able to create a self-image based on the unconditional love of Christ is a helpful direction for people who are injured in the different psychological aspects of their lives.
McGee (1992) states, “changing our beliefs from false beliefs to the truths of God’s Word will assist us in experiencing more appropriate emotions and thereby will change the way we respond”. Helping clients to become more Christ-like in seeking self-worth and happiness is the goal of Christian counseling. A contextual explanation of illness The sources of illness are biological, cognitive, emotional and spiritual. Biological are often the easiest to identify they have physical signs that can be studied.
Biological illnesses include physical sickness, chemical imbalances, and traumatic abuse. Typically, biological problems can be treated with medications or removal of the source of problem. For instance, physical trauma caused by an abusive husband involves treatment wherein the first step is to remove the victim from the abusive relationship. The cognitive aspect is the area of focus for most counseling therapies. Many problems that counselors must contend with relate to cognitive disorders, including depression, anxiety, guilt, and fear.
The illnesses with a cognitive source are of critical concern as they are often more difficult to treat than biological illnesses. Emotional causes must also be considered. Sandra Wilson’s (2001) mantra of Hurt People Hurt People explains how emotional damage begets more emotional damage. Out of wounded emotions, people repeat the same torture to those they are closest to. Finally, illnesses can also be of a spiritual character. In order to be successful and productive counselors “we have to learn to distinguish between organic or psychological mental illness and a spiritual battle for the mind,” (Anderson, 2000).
Spiritual illnesses stem from sin, a lack of faith, and destructive influences. Anderson (2000) advises, “Don’t think Satan is no longer interested in manipulating your mind in order to accomplish his purposes. Satan’s perpetual aim is to infiltrate your thoughts with his thoughts and to promote his lie in the face of God’s truth. He knows that if he can control you thoughts, he can control your life” Therapeutic Involvement Techniques, methods The Bible provides excellent guidance in various aspects of life; it is an excellent source for every Christian counselor.
Accordingly, “all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). In a helping relationship, techniques are used to help the client reach the point of change. One approach that Christian counselors should not be without is prayer. Craigie and Tan (as cited in McMinn, 1996) write, “Indeed, praying with clients that they may be liberated from resistant misbeliefs, that they may be empowered to do the truth, and that they may come into a deeper relationship with the truth can sometimes be a most powerful experience”.
The use of scripture in therapy sessions is useful in integrating God’s Truths to a client’s mindset. The use of the technique miracle question is helpful; this is a method of questioning which begins by helping the client imagine a situation wherein, overnight, a miracle happens that solves all their familial problems. The client has to define what differences they would observe to prove that a miracle had taken place. This is vital in making the client realize how vastly improved their relationships will be when the problems are resolved and defines the goal they aim to achieve.
The method of Scaling questions is another tool used to rate the client’s current state, with zero/one being the most ideal and ten being the worst, this facilitates the therapist in identifying factors that prevents them from moving up the scale and recognizes what pushes them down. This is helpful in shifting the client’s focus from problems to solutions. The goal of therapy is promoting a high level of self-worth; the therapist must introduce genuineness into the environment by omitting shame from the process.
This can be supplemented with compliments and positive encouragement by vocalizing admirable traits; it is a helpful exercise that generates an atmosphere of goodwill more conducive to problem solving. Hawkins (2006b) identifies the first in counseling step as own having an understanding of the real problem. Then, he goes on to reality testing. From there, a plan of action is formulated and the client is occupied with taking tenure to this plan of action and accepting accountability for its conclusion. Lastly, the counselor helps in building support and responsibility into the process of transformation concerning the client.
A good cognitive counseling approach is to focus on the inner-voice and truth. The inner-voice is often constructed as a direct result of the temporal and supernatural circles in which an individual develops. In destructive or less-than-ideal relationships, the individual can develop spiteful and untruthful concepts about themselves which are constantly conveyed by the inner-voice. An understanding of truthful reality, often combating the untrue inner-voice, is critical for change. As Dr. Backus and Dr.
Chapian explain, “locating and identifying pain-causing fabrications plus learning the factual reality-based truth” is therapeutic and critical for healing (2000). Expectations in success Counselors can measure success of counseling by evaluating the client’s progress in the accurate awareness of self or needs and by determining if they are participating in healing relationships (McMinn, 1996). McMinn’s affirms that, “A more careful look suggests that spiritual and psychological health require a confident sense of self, an awareness of human need, and limitations, and confiding interpersonal relationships with God and others” (1996).
Real success in psychotherapy is measured by advancement not perfection. Worldview Dimensions Every individual possesses a worldview whether or not they recognize it. For example, the temporal system an individual develops in will have significant impacts on the individual’s worldview. Someone who was raised in a war torn environment with rampant violence and lawlessness will have a different set of moral code than a person is raised in a secure and peaceable community. These worldviews affect the progress in counseling; worldviews differ from person to person and may include science, perception or the Bible.
It is imperative for the Christian counselor to have a broad perception of what his/her worldview consists of. The Biblical worldview filters pertinent information through the sieve of God’s Word. Since all issues are not addressed in Scripture, to sift means to see if the issue lines up with God’s Word (Collins, 2001). Uniting psychology, spirituality, and theology encompasses all the components of human behavior necessary to assess functioning (McMinn, 1996). Conclusion The integration of spirituality and theological scriptures to counseling provides a panoramic view of how psychotherapy can progress.
The Bible must be used as a reference in choosing ideologies, techniques or processes to integrate in a personal theory. The use of solutions-based therapy, also referred to as ‘solution focused therapy’ or ‘brief therapy’, is a type of talking therapy that is based upon social constructionist philosophy. It includes miracle and scaling questions. It focuses on what clients want to achieve through therapy. The approach focuses on the present and hopes for future, because as Dr. Worthington explains, “hope provides the motivation to work” (1999).
Cognitive therapy can be used most effectively in Christian counseling because the cognitive approach is imperative in changing the client’s self-awareness by challenging negative thoughts and untruths. Cognitive therapy helps unchain the client from unrealistic expectations by perceiving and revising the pointless difficulties they place on themselves. Understanding the components of human personality through the theory of concentric circles is important in developing a complete strategy for helping individuals change.
Recognition of an integrated model that considers the scripture of Christian teachings is a potent tool in wrestling against the dysfunction residing in a client’s life. Resources Anderson, N. (2000). The bondage breaker. Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers. Backus, William and Chapian, Marie. (2000). Telling yourself the truth. Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishers Cloud, H. & Townsend, J. (1992). Boundaries: When to say yes when to say no to take control of your life. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. Collins, G. (2001).
The Biblical basis of Christian counseling for people helpers. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress Publishing Group. Crabb, Larry. (1977). Effective biblical counseling: A model for helping caring Christians become capable counselors. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. Hawkins, Ron E. (Speaker). (2006). Model for guiding the counseling process. Lynchburg, VA: Liberty University. Hawkins, R. E. (Producer). (2006b). Grid for tracking process [Motion picture]. (Available from Liberty university, 1971 University Boulevard, Lynchburg, VA 24502)
Worthington, Everett L. (1999). Hope-focussed marriage counseling. Downer’s Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press Greece. McGee, R. (1992). Search for significance: Build your self worth on the forgiveness and unconditional love of Jesus Christ. Nashville, TN: LifeWay Press. McMinn, M. (1996). Psychology, theology and spirituality in Christian counseling. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wilson, S. (2001). Hurt people hurt people: Hope and healing for yourself and your relationships. Grand Rapids, MI: Discovery House Publishers.
University/College: University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 7 November 2016
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