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Psychology, theology, and spirituality in Christian counseling. A book by M. R. McMinn. Psychology and Christianity have been viewed as incompatible philosophical systems. Yet, this book tries to create a connection linking the roles of a trained counselor, a therapist, and a Christian. The author implies that just because a person works as a psychological counselor does not mean that they have to give up their spiritual side. McMinn also recognizes that when a client is experiencing a crisis that threatens their spiritual and mental health, priests have to grasp the psychological needs of this client also. In the author's eyes, spiritual and mental health is linked, therefore Christian belief and psychology can be compatible. Going to the priest has been here longer then people can remember. However, psychoanalysis has become so popular now, that people believe that in order for you to be healed you have to submit to a higher power.
The idea of submission, either to the Christian community or God, is one of the key concepts in this book. Maybe the most significant and modern concept that appears from this book is the idea of interdependence, instead of independence.
Interdependence in this world, with God as well as other Christians, is important for psychological health and belief. The belief of a bond between families and the need for individuals to feel bonded to a community that's meaningful as well as plan of values is probably one of , if not the most believable arguments of this text. If such a thought is critical to healing psychologically, is the therapist able to put religion to one side when they and the client are discussing psychological issues? For example, if a couple wants to get pass infidelity, they must try to achieve a position of interdependence, acknowledge one another as well as their own imperfections instead of pass judgment on one another like they are God. In Luke 6:37 it says "Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven." They have to find values that they both share in order to sustain their marriage.
After reading this book, it reminded me of a situation I was in not too long ago. In 2009 my mother died suddenly of a heart attack and I didn't take it very well. At her funeral I got saved. I was never very religious but spiritual and for some reason I knew if I did this I would somehow be closer to my mother while she was on the other side. Even though I got saved, my behavior was out of control. I was on a crash course to destruction, probably suicide. My girlfriend told me to go see a therapist but I wouldn't. Then something happened stopped me from losing full control. My mother started to visit me in my dreams and we would have conversations about the way I was acting. This took my faith to another level. The fact that she knew what was going on in my life after I watched her casket get lowered in the ground was unexplainable to me. However, I still was grieving tremendously. Three years have passed and I am doing a lot better. One of the reasons is because I decided to go talk to a therapist. I have had some other things as happen to me recently which propelled me to do this also. I must say that it has helped me tremendously. I found out back when I was first dealing with the death of my mother I was not ready to talk about it to anyone yet. I have been grieving the entire time which brought about other things. If I had gone back then maybe I would not have experienced some of the things I have in the last three years. I ask no question because God does not make mistakes. During the time my mother passed I had not started this program so I had never heard of a Christian counselor. The counselor I went to talk to was regular counselor. It's funny because I felt like when I started to talk about religion they shied away from it. This was a little strange to me. Now since I know that Christian counselors exist and I am strongly into my faith, I should be talking to one of them instead of a regular counselor. At this point in my life I feel I can relate to someone who is ready to talk religion just as I am.
Even though the author makes a convincing case for merging psychology with Christian counseling in a way that can lead to healing, there still are a lot of questions which come up in regards to how people raised in a secular culture will react to a therapist bringing up the topic of religion. As I mentioned above, it took me three years to go talk to anyone. Also, because the culture of faith and psychology are often paired against one another in the modern realization one will believe some Christians feel comfortable discussing intimate issues using the vocabulary of psychology? This seems to be a problem with many twelve step programs, even though they do not ground their spiritual philosophy in the words of the Bible, like McMinn in the text. One of the biggest strengths of McMinn's approach is how he uses theological reflection to instigate dialogue between a therapist and a stubborn client, or a fighting couple. I feel if mire therapists can implement this type of treatment in their sessions with married couples, miracles could be made. However, the couple has to be receptive to what the therapist is trying to teach them. Just like in any other session, if a person is not ready to talk about religion then it will not work. The client has to be ready to talk religion. As mentioned in the text is there a correct time to? I feel like it is if the marriage is one the verge of divorce. At this point the couple probably will be open to trying anything unless one or both of them just are completely finished with the marriage. In that case I still believe that the marriage can be saved. Philippians 4:13, "I Can Do All Things through Christ Who Strengthens Me."
This book is very useful in its bringing together of the humanistic, positive, and psychological values of community and interdependence with church-based initiatives and the traditional Christian values of family. Creating psychological counseling sessions or meetings for people undergoing specific personal difficulties within the context of my own community is one way to apply the principles of the book. Another idea is to apply Christian values to programs designed to help counselees deal with addiction or other psychological conflicts and include these programs as part of the services offered by the church. These are all ways to help struggling individuals reformulate their experiences into a positive search for meaning and purpose.
Ironically, I am currently leading a group in which all of the members have been affected by infidelity at some level. We are in the closing phase of the group. Overall, it was a good experience for me. I felt like I was able to share some of the things I learned from the book as well as classroom lectures to help others with their problems. My group consists of four women and four men. Two of the men are married, one is divorced and the other is separated. One of the women is married, one is engaged, one is divorced and the other is single. I picked this type of group to run for the same reason I picked this major to receive my master's degree in. I want to know why some people cheat on their spouses and are they able to forgive their partner if they catch them. More than 75% of the group said they could not and the only reason they would was because of the children. The other 25% said they would have to try because of their religion. In response to the 25%, the other 75% stated that values went out the door when they cheated. Needless to say it was an interesting group but I feel this book really helped me to be a great leader.