Christian counseling is all about integrating psychology, theology and spirituality into counselor and clients lives. Psychology, Theology and Spirituality in Christian Counseling gives insight into how these three perspectives can be used to help individuals identify certain aspects of their lives that might be enhanced when the counselor includes spirituality into their counseling sessions.We also see how important it is for the counselor to be in touch with their own spirituality so that they can lead by example.Many counselors have a hard time addressing their own faith, with their clients. They question whether it is acceptable to talk to their clients about their Christian beliefs.
Therefore,many times spirituality will fall by the wayside in the counseling session.McMinn (1996) gives us ways in which the counselor can integrate their spirituality into the counseling sessions and promote Christian guidance, into their clients lives. The goal of the Christian counselor is to promote mental and spiritual growth, so that the client can draw from their faith and look to God for guidance.McMinn (1996) allows us to see that we need a healthy sense of self in order to overcome our obstacles (p. 47).
One way we develop a healthy sense of self is to pray. Praying allows us to be in touch with God. McMinn (1996) states that “those who pray often tend to experience more purpose in life, greater marital satisfaction, religious satisfaction, and a general sense of well-being” (p. 66).
However, the counselor must first establish a trusting relationship with the client before they can effectively use prayer within the counseling sessions. If a trusting relationship is not established, the counselor runs the risk of the client pulling away or ending the counseling relationship.The use of scripture can also play a part in the counseling sessions.McMinn (1996) has indicated that scripture can provide substance for contemplation and theological boundaries to keep the client from slipping into heresy and self worship (p. 107-108).
We also see that sin is thought of as the cause of many psychological issues. When looking at sin we look at the internal and external attribution factors that contribute to emotional behavior. The way that we look at things can affect how we respond to certain issues. Therefore, it is important that as counselors we put things in perspective and allow ourselves to be unbiased.
McMinn (1996) also allows us to see how the confession of the client can alleviate some of the clients emotional issues. When a counselor establishes a trusting relationship, with their client, they allow the client to confide in the counselor.This allows the client to relax and open up. Once the client has confessed then it is important to establish forgiveness. McMinn (1996) states that “forgiveness is an act of compassion that comes from one person’s identifying with another” (p.
216).When we allow ourselves to have insight and humility we can release ourselves from our sin and seek redemption. As counselors we can offer the client a feeling of redemption when we use our own psychological, theological and spiritual abilities to enhance the counseling relationship (p. 242).
The way a client is treated or responded to can often allow them to transform into healthier individuals.Overall, McMinn (1996) allows us to see that when we counsel individuals we have the ability to impact them on many different levels. By praying with our clients, introducing scripture into the counseling relationship and establishing good trusting relationships with our client, counselors are able to hear client confessions, help the client establish a relationship with God in order to forgive themselves and others and seek redemption for indiscretions.As counselors our faith is a very important aspect of leading our clients to the Lord. The word of God has enormous healing powers and when clients tap into these wonderful powers they start their journey to better emotional health. Concrete ResponseWhen I moved back home, after my brother passed away, I went through a very emotional time.
At one point, I decided to seek counseling. I had never been exposed to Christian counseling and had no idea that the counselor that I was planning on seeing had a Christian based practice. Initially, I shunned the idea of any type of religious interactions.I was mad at God and I was sure that my prayers would not be answered.
Afterall, I could pray all I wanted to but prayer wouldn’t bring my brother back. My counselor was patient with me. Occasionally, he would slip scripture into our sessions and ask me if I would like to pray. I declined the prayer but reflected upon the scripture.
After a several months, I introduced spirituality into our session. I wanted to know how a God that was so good could cause such pain. My counselor and I talked in depth about how God has a plan for everyone and that his intention is not to cause pain. That day I allowed my counselor to pray with me.I broke down.
I confessed my feelings and allowed myself to grieve. I believe that if my counselor had pushed me to pray, before I was ready, I would have stopped our sessions. I wasn’t a customer for prayer. I needed time.
I needed to establish a comfortable relationship with my counselor and I needed to know that I would not be judged for the way that I was feeling and the things that I had done. I needed someone to listen. I needed forgiveness and was seeking redemption. ReflectionPrior to reading this book I was unclear as to how the counselor could go about introducing spirituality into the counseling relationship.
I believe that McMinn provides us with a good foundation on how Christian counselors can guide their clients to rely upon God.One thing that I would like more clarity on is how counselors can integrate spirituality into the counseling relationship when there is a difference in beliefs? If Christian counselors are to lead and guide their clients to God then how do we effectively do that when our beliefs may be different from our clients?McMinn (1996) uses a cognitive/behavioral approach. Many clients, especially those in the “Bible Belt” seek our Christian counselors. They look for a counselor that will hold them accountable for their actions and make them question themselves.However, I also believe that the counselor must identify when their client is ready for this approach. Too much too soon can lead to dissolution of the counseling relationship.
I enjoyed McMinn’s approach to prayer. I agree with McMinn that God is always a part of the counseling session. Without God we cannot experience healing. In my opinion, the way a counselor displays their spirituality and approaches spirituality in the counseling setting is a key factor in how well the counselor can blend psychotherapy and spirituality. ActionChristianity is prevalent all over the world. As individuals are exposed to all of the temptations the world has to offer, they find themselves conflicted and emotionally unhealthy.
Sin infiltrates lives and makes people question who they are, what they believe and how they can become healthy spiritual individuals. This is where the Christian counselor comes in. Christian counselors have the capacity to make a difference in the lives of those individuals who are struggling to become spiritually healthy.If I were counseling a client, I would want to make sure that I allowed the client to trust in our relationship.
Once trust was established, I would ask them about their spiritual beliefs.I want the client to know that I respect their beliefs and that I would like to expand upon them. In expanding their beliefs, I would offer prayer and introduce certain scriptures that appear to be relevant to their situation. I would lead my client by example and give my client the opportunity to talk openly without judgment.McMinn (1996) has allowed me insight into the correct ways to integrate spirituality into a counseling session.
I feel that I can be a better listener, less judgmental, guide individuals and allow my own spirituality to shine through. People want someone to listen and not judge. Judgment pushes people away and takes away trust.To be effective, I feel that you must approach things slowly and display your own spirituality and beliefs from within. How we live our own lives is visible by our actions and demeanor. Therefore, I feel that I consistently have to work on maintaining my own spirituality.
Nothing worth having comes without hard work. I will keep McMinn on my shelf so that I can utilize this book as a resource. I feel his wisdom can be a good guide for Christian practices.ReferencesMcMinn, M.R. (1996).
Psychology, Theology & Spirituality in Christian Counseling. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers