A 4-MAT Review, Psychology, Theology, and Spirituality in Christian Counseling
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In conjunction with The American Association of Christian Counselor and Tyndale House Publishers, Mark McMinn wrote: Psychology, Theology, and Spirituality in Christian counseling (1996). McMinn has tried to integrate psychology and theology and it seeks to explore how to utilize spiritual disciplines in the counseling techniques of psychotherapy. He shows the importance of integrating prayer, forgiveness, redemption, restitution, and worship into the techniques of helping a counselee.
Many counselors deeply want to help their client and they lack the ability to incorporate Christian principles in to the therapeutic relationship. McMinn addresses this issue and he helps by showing practical ways in learning how to use spiritual disciplines. By providing the definitions and how psychology, theology, and spirituality are similar yet also have their differences. He show how a counselor can learn to multitask these three disciplines, and when a counselor begins to learn to utilizing these categories into counseling it can be rewarding for the counselor and their counselee. McMinn provides a model for healing that begins with having a healthy sense of self, and it than moves into the brokenness of a client??™s needs, it then moves into the final step in building a healthy relationship with God and others individuals.
Prayer is vital in both the counselors??™ life and for the counselee. McMinn shows the different types of prayer that the counselor can incorporate. Prayer is a way of meditation and listening to God. By spending time with Him a counselor can not only deepen their own personal relationship with God but can also ask for prayer and guidance for the clients. By educating your clients on how to prayer can be beneficial but needs to be done in a way that will not block a client from sharing emotional issues.
McMinn points out that the Scriptures are rarely used in the counseling relationship (McMinn, 1996). As he states: “our knowledge of God, self and Scripture are all interrelated, but our capacity to understand any one of these elements will add to our ability to
understand the others ???(McMinn, 1996). Counselors (secular and some Christians) tends to help their clients by seeking for answers within themselves and believe that they can learn to solve their own problems. If a Christian counselor learns to seek God through the use of Scriptures for the truth and learns to provide these truth during an appropriate time with their clients.
Dealing with the issue of sin can be tough in the counselor??™s technique. Clients tend to either blame themselves for their problems or they may turn the blame onto someone else. By helping the client gain an understanding of what is sin and where sin began (original sin) can provide a means of hope when we give our sins to God. By helping those through confessing their sins to God can lead to a deeper relationship with a loving and forgiving God.
Confession will then lead a client into receiving forgiveness for God and learning to forgive them. Christian counselors see that true forgiveness is when one becomes aware of their own personal sins and in turn forgives other out of compassion and kindness. When one learns about God??™s forgiveness and how it will lead to their redemption, they will then come to see that they are now a new creation with God.
I use to do counseling at a Christian crisis pregnancy center where I saw the importance of integrating spiritual disciplines in my counseling. Many of the girls I counseled did not know about God??™s love and forgiveness. They feel that because they have had premarital sex that God will not love them or forgive them.
Personally I have also found it hard to deal with my own personal sin. I have fought through spiritual life in believing I am worthy of God??™s love and forgiveness. In McMinn??™s book he states that: ???In Christian counseling, sin can be confronted in humble and empathic ways that encourage spiritual growth more than shame. These methods include silence at strategic moments, pondering aloud inconsistencies in client??™s narratives, and questioning clients in order to understand their values of right and wrong??? (McMinn, 1996). After working at the crisis pregnancy center I saw that the use of strategic silence tended to be the best means in helping the girls. Sometimes I wished that my own personal counselors would have learned when not to speak and sometimes even preach. I knew that I may have done things that were wrong but I also now know that how we address someone??™s sinful nature we need to be careful that we do not judge or block our counselee progress.
After reading McMinn book, I remember one of my favorite client??™s. Corisa (name changed), was a 16 year old girl that can in four months pregnant and believed that an abortion was the only answer. Listening to her story of how her boyfriend had ???forced??? himself on her and did not want to have a baby. By allowing her to share and then asking her if I could share something from God??™s Word help me to lead her to Christ. She never knew how much she was loved by God and how He wanted her to cry out to Him her problems. Corisa ended up having a healthy little boy and is now living with her aunt.
I now have realized that psychology and spirituality cannot be separated if they are true healing will not occur. With the use of traditional psychology only the counselor will not reach their clients soul, this is where true spiritual healing occurs. Being an inactive Register Nurse I see that as a counselor one needs to approach clients with holistic stances, seeking to heal the mind, spirit and body. It is also vital to use the Scripture and prayer in an appropriate manner.
I believe that this book is an excellent source for both beginners and experience counselors. It assists counselors in learning how to integrate their personal faith in God and their knowledge of psychology into their therapeutic techniques. McMinn show how the use of one??™s own spiritual disciplines can be the stepping stone into incorporating them in a counseling session. I believe that a counselor first needs to work on their own spiritual walk and personal relationship with God before they can expect to use this in a counseling situation. Unless they themselves have a close walk with God, one without this will not be working in the Spirit of God.
The one question that I would like to ask McMinn is in regard to the five approaches he shares regarding confronting sin in a client. He mentioned they were: ???silence, pondering, questioning, direct censure, and not confronting the sin??? (McMinn, 1996). I am in agreement with all of them but I question why he states that sometimes it is better not to confront sin. God??™s Word tells us that we first need to confront and address our own sin and then have the proper attitude and heart to confront someone else??™s sin. By holding oneself and others accountable to God and His Word is what I believe every Christian is called to do.
McMinn book is written from a Cognitive ??“Behavioral approach and also makes a psychodynamic perspective. He shares that his foundation of counseling comes from his own personal therapy and most of it came from a psychodynamic twist. He also states that most clients that do go into therapy prefer to have a Christian base in their counseling. He has written this book to be a starting point for counselors to begin to look at the spiritual nature in a human being and how we as counselors can begin to address these needs in their counselee life.
This book has shown me the importance of integrating psychology, theology, and spirituality into one counseling practice. God calls Christians to be ???set apart,??? and become the light in a world that is filled with darkness. When I trained to work at the crisis pregnancy center the women who trained us stated that sin is a matter of the heart and I would add that counseling is also a matter of the heart. As I worked at the center I saw how I first needed to address any unaddressed sin I may have in my own life, and to examine my own personal relationship with Christ. If I personal am not walking with Christ I can became a hypocrite in both God??™s eyes and also in the eyes of the girls I was counseling.
If I were to counsel someone after reading McMinn??™s book that was dealing with the issue of a crisis pregnancy I would work towards in confronting their sin without be judgmental. Many of the girls that I had counseled were pregnant due to premarital sex. By helping them to recognize their own personal values in God??™s eyes and that He is the creator of everything including sex, will help them see what happened from a Christian perspective. I also see that one needs to ask before permission before sharing Scripture and prayer during a counseling session. By being sensitive to where a client is vital so that I do not push my own beliefs and values onto my client. By asking God??™s Holy Spirit to be your guide in a counseling session, you are realizing that it is God who will provide the ultimate healing in an individual heart. God wants to create a new and beautiful creation in each and everyone life.
McMinn, M. R. (1996). Psychology, Theology, and Spirituality in Christian Counseling. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.