Building models for integration in counseling Essay
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As we begin this second week of Coun 506 we are going to concentrate on building models for integration in counseling. Our beginning point in this is to understand more specifically how our worldview impacts the models that we use in counseling. The way we interpret behavior has a lot to do with our worldview, and a lot to do with our expectations of our clients. One of the first steps in applying worldview questions to counseling is that we have to begin to think in terms of the bigger questions that are involved, starting off with: “Who am I? Those who approach the question of human nature from a theological perspective think of people as created in the image of God.
The focus of those who are theologically-trained and oriented is the belief in people being a free creation imbued with a free will, but also as fallen beings created for a purpose. This is true even when we see a person in a counseling situation and it is clear by the problems they are having or created for themselves that they are far from achieving the purpose for which they were created. It does not remove the fact that this is a person with a purpose for which they are created.
From a psychological standpoint the question ”Who Am I? ” raises the issue of rationality; the idea of humans as essentially “a self,” not a creation but a rational self. Some theories of psychology stresses that when people begin their lives, they begin as “blank slates” where from the moment they are born, their experiences, their environment, and their relationships begin to fill the “pages” of their mind and lives. So there is a sense in psychology that people are akin to “self-creating social organisms” that interact with people and systems around them.
From the perspective of Christian spirituality, identity questions are phrased in terms of the spirit, in terms of the God-breathed life. Recall the image in Genesis where God forms Adam from the ground and breathed life into him. That is an image specific to Christian Spirituality: the notion of human beings as children of God and temples of the Holy Spirit. Next we look at the worldview question: “Where am I? ” referring to the world in which we live. From a theological perspective the world is considered to be a good creation by God: “In the beginning God created the eavens and the earth and God saw that it was good”; that phrase is repeated many times in that first chapter of the book of Genesis.
When God created human beings he saw that it was very good. So it is a good world created by God that while still under His sovereignty, He has charged us to have dominion over the world. From the perspective of psychologists, the question is addressed in terms of two environments: one being the internal environment of the person, or their individual heredity; and the second being the external: the physical, social, and relational environment in which they live.
For Spirituality, the world is described as a “community,” while for us who are believers in Christ, our fundamental identifying terms of our environment is as members of the “Body of Christ. ” It also emphasizes that the world in which we live and see is not one realm, but that we exist in a two-realm world: the physical world and the spiritual world. Rarely does anyone come to counseling simply for the fun of it, or because they have nothing else to do. Anytime you see a client, it is because they are having a problem. Theologians looking from the “What’s wrong with the world? perspective, refers to problems in the terms of sin and rebellion to God’s law. Jay Addams emphasize this in “nouthetic counseling”: that anytime a person comes to you with a problem, the problem is sin. This problem of sin shows up not only in that individual’s rebellion to God’s law, but also in terms of the larger work of Satan and the presence of evil in their life. Psychologists on the other hand emphasize that when a person is having problems, the fundamental issue is pointing toward some type of disorder, or their failure to cope in adequate ways, or they are living in a dysfunctional environment.
In spirituality, when there is a problem in life, the problem is broken relationships and alienation from God, self, and others. The problem is also phrased in cosmic terms: that in fact part of the problem in life is really the result of spiritual warfare or the result of quenching God’s guiding and comforting Holy Spirit. So where does that lead us in seeking solutions to our problems? In terms of theology, the way to deal with problems are solutions that only come from God. The grace of God is freely given to us, with the correct human response being repentance.
Repentance leads to redemption in Christ, and then we can embark on the life-long process of becoming sanctified, or more like Christ. From a psychological perspective, the solution to problems is known as “self-actualization,” or the notion that we are self-controlled persons who need to unleash “the self” within us. Then we can understand and conquer our problems and recover through psychological interventions. Spirituality speaks of the solution to human problems in terms of communion with Christ, and reconciliation with others coming through abiding in the Spirit and through the power of prayer.
Next we need to look at a change that has taken place over time from what is known as a “modern” worldview to a “post-modern” worldview. Here you see a simple typology comparing the two. This sort of typology is very important in counseling, especially concerning the various generations of our clients. Those who were born in the first part of the 20th century are much more likely to have a dominant “modern” view. Those born in the latter part of the 20th, or are just coming into adulthood now in the 21st century, typically lean toward the “post-modern” viewpoint.
For those who come from the “modern” worldview, their focus is on the rational. If they can figure it out and think it through, THEN they have the direction to live. They seek to discover the “truth,” and from that truth they THEN know how to live and make decisions. The priority is on the individual, learning to be responsible for yourself and your own, not looking to others for help. Modern people believe that there is objective truth, and that we can be objective in our search for that truth.
Modernists tend to think that there is a correct way to live, and that there is the possibility of living a moral life. On the other side, “post-modernists” feel that life is much more experiential. The real source in life is their experiences, not thoughts or reasonings. For example, my experiences are not the same as your experiences so my experiences are THE authoritative source for ME. Because of their emphasis on experience, they seek to understand life from their experiences and then to discern truth FROM those experiences. In other words their experiences become the means for understanding truth.
More and more they place an emphasis on community rather than individuality, which can be seen as a positive shift in the sense that seeking counsel from another person is acceptable instead of embarrassing. Also, post-modern people see life in subjective terms, in that there are many ways to live, all of equal value, and that it is arrogant to speak in terms of there being only one way to live. Now please keep in mind that what was just presented to you is a simple typology, a way of conceptualizing the shifts in thinking so if you see things a little differently from this, it is okay.
It is simply a quick way to help you process the shifting of worldviews that is occurring in our lifetime. Be aware that there are five keys to a Christian integrated worldview that you will be hearing about throughout this course. To study a bit deeper on this, refer back to Entwistle’s book. The first as has been mentioned before that “all truth is God’s truth”; this is key to a Christian worldview. The second is the notion that “human abilities are gifts from God”: meaning we are not completely independent beings but are creations of God, so our abilities are gifts from our Creator and given to us for a purpose.
A third key is the belief that “human life is a unified whole,” where clients are to be approached holistically and as part of a family and community. The fourth key focuses on the “reality of sin,” meaning human sin IS a limiting factor in all of our pursuits. This fifth and final key is “humans and our behavior can be understood to a great degree through rational means,” meaning through empirical observation, through scientific methods, and through the revelation we receive from God. Unfortunately, the way in which we interpret those facts is going to be limited and flawed because of our fallenness.