The integration of christianity and psychology

Personal Theory Paper: Future Counseling Theory Paper Bethany F. Miracle Liberty University Abstract In this paper, I discussed my personal theory regarding the integration of Christianity and psychology, as it relates to my beliefs, and how the summation of these two components will be reflected in my future counseling practice. I considered several factors that were critical to my personal counseling theory. First, I considered the human personality, such as, individual differences, motivations, and human development.

Each person is unique; however, both Christianity and psychology have discovered common threads that are woven throughout the human race, and I believe that information is imperative to the counseling process. Next, I will discuss why and how problems develop. There are a number of reasons problems occur; however, prior to implementing a treatment plan, I must decide if the problem is physical, psychological, or spiritual. Problems can be physical; however, it is my belief that they are most often spiritual and psychological, which require an integrated therapeutic approach.

I believe that due to a person’s unhealthy self-talk, they are not able to see themselves as God sees them; therefore, I will discuss the reasons why I believe that psychology, specifically aspects of Cognitive Therapy, must be integrated with the Biblical truths to be effective. Lastly, it is my belief that this work cannot be done without the inner working power of the Holy Spirit in the life of a person. I believe the combination of these components can permanently transform a person from the inside out. Keywords: integration, Cognitive Therapy, self-talk, Christianity, cognitive, behavior, Beck, truth, personality, intervention, Bible

Personal Theory Paper: Future Counseling Theory Paper Development and Structure of Personality (. 5) Hawkins (2010) discusses five components that shape and influence the human personality; he refers to these components that diagram the self, as concentric circles. These components are comprised of the core, the body, the soul, the temporal systems, and the supernatural systems (Hawkins, 2010). Hawkins (2010) refers to the core as the innermost part of the self; it houses the Holy Spirit, and even sin and selfishness. Next is the soul circle that is inclusive of a person’s thoughts, conscience, volition, and emotions.

The third circle contains the individual’s physical body. The fourth circle is the temporal system, and it includes family, friends, church, society, government, economy, and education. Lastly, the supernatural system circle that contains both good and evil; it is comprised of God, good and evil angels, demons, and Satan (Hawkins, 2010). One of Hawkins (2010) most impactful statements as it relates to the concentric circles is that these components should function with the others in synchronization, and when one component is impacted, the overall system is impacted (Hawkins, 2010).

This means that if one of these systems malfunctions, then the entire system will malfunction. For example, if a person’s temporal system consists of friends who speak negatively about them, then it is possible that their emotions, which are contained in the soul circle, will be negatively impacted. In this case, the negative words of a friend may start to result in feelings of low self-esteem; therefore, the temporal system has impacted the soul circle. Likewise, when the core is dominated by sin, then the overall system will be dominated by sin.

Wilson (2001) postulates a similar personality development theory, which is that a person’s personality evolves due to their innate childhood survival instincts. She postulates that behavioral patterns and personality types were formed during childhood and that they resulted from a child’s continual responses to questions relating to a need for “trust, identity, and attachment” (p. 83). In other words, the child’s need to trust others, to have a strong self-identity, and to be able to have a healthy attachment toward others is the foundation upon which the human personality and behavior is built.

This foundation, whether healthy or unhealthy, will form the way in which a person relates as an adult. Like Wilson (2001) and Hawkins (2010) who assert that external factors, such as other people, impact an individual’s emotions and behavior and ultimately form the personality structure, I also believe this personality theory. The Source, Role, and Function of Motivation (. 5) According to Crabb (1977), there are several factors that motivate human behavior. Although there several motivators, Crabb (1977) insists that the need to feel secure and the need to feel significant are the two primary provokers.

Often, a human’s primary motivator to meet these needs becomes the driving force behind any action. When a situation or event is encountered, often, the individual will analyze whether or not one of these two needs is threatened, if it is, a person will most often behave in a way that protects (Crabb, 1977). I have seen this to be true in my life and in the lives of many of my friends. For example, someone will make hurtful or unloving comment, and the receiver will retaliate with a defensive or hurtful remark to protect their security or significance from the offense.

Unfortunately, this type of unhealthy behavior can set a person on a downhill spiral that may result in a ripple effect of negative impacts. Frequently, friends, business partners, spouses, children, and even other opportunities are disengaged because of the barrier that an individual erects to protect. Contrarily, the Bible teaches us to do just the opposite. Scripture says that instead of being motivated by protective behavioral devices, a person should be motivated by Biblical obedience, an eternal goal that is for a higher calling and purpose (Crabb, 1977).

Crabb (1977) asserts that oftentimes the counselor has to teach the client that sinful actions have damaging consequences, and while it is uncomfortable to resist retaliation, the individual must see that there is a higher calling in the life of a believer. I, like Adams (2009), believe as a Christian, an individual has a responsibility to come under obedience to the word of God. Backus and Chapian (2000) postulate that children develop these kinds of protective behaviors during childhood as a way to feel safe and secure.

As an adult, maintaining that feeling of safety and security becomes a primary motivator, which impacts a person’s behavior, and ultimately their overall environment. An individual must be willing to modify these thought patterns that have become comfortable and convenient and learn new ways of thinking and new skills that serve them in a healthy way and are more Christ like. The Bible says that “All a man’s ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the Lord” (Proverbs 16:1, NIV). God knew before time egan that man would seek to protect himself from the hurts and pains of others, and I believe that is why Scripture makes it so clear that God is the only one who can ever fully love, accept, and secure a person. It is only by maturing in Christ that a person will ever realize that obedience to him should be our only motivator. Theory of Human Development and Individual Differences (. 5 & . 5) Human development. According to Scripture, each person was created by God himself who “knit me together in my mother’s womb” (Psalms 139:13-14, NIV).

From the time a person is birthed, that individual is developing into maturity, both physically and spiritually. Crabb (1977) discusses the process of a human’s spiritual development as a journey that involves spiritual maturity. Crabb (1977) says that “Maturity involves two elements: (1) immediate obedience in specific situations and (2) long-range character growth” (p. 23). Just as a baby endures hurdles throughout the physical growth process of cutting teeth, crawling, rolling over, and walking, an individual also must encounter life hurdles so that they develop and grow into maturity.

Crabb (1977) suggest that immediate obedience in specific situations is part of this growth process. For example, a person who is spiritually immature may lash out in defense and retaliation to someone who has spoken to them unkindly. Contrarily, a person who is spiritually mature in their character may quickly obey Biblical principles and renounce the temptation to become defensive and instead show love to that person. Individual differences. Scripture also shows that we are different and unique in many areas of our lives. Job 8-11 (NKJV) says that “Your hands shaped me and made me.

Remember that you molded me like clay. Did you not pour me out like milk and curdle me like cheese, clothe me with skin and flesh and knit me together with bones and sinews? ” This scripture is a wonderful reminder of how different we are in the physical, but we are also different in other areas of our lives as well, such as, culturally, psychologically, and even our temperament. Furthermore, we are at all different levels in our Spiritual walk, and as a future counselor, I must keep this in the forefront of my mind and not become inpatient in dealing with my clients.

Problem Development Conceptualizing Health and Wellness (. 5) According to Crabb (1977), anyone can change their emotions by changing their thoughts. Crabb (1977) asserts that an individual’s emotions are directly impacted by their perception of a situation or an event in their conscious mind, based on beliefs in the unconscious mind. A person’s emotions can change, if their basic assumptions change (Crabb, 1977). Crabb (1977) says that a counselor’s job is not to try to strengthen the will of a client.

Although a person does have a will, oftentimes, it is difficult for a person to change their beliefs and basic assumptions, because they have become an integral part of their life. Contrarily, Crabb (1977) says it is the counselor’s job to enlighten the client so that their unconscious thoughts, or basic assumptions, will be healthy and scripturally sound. With this new information and new truth that has been revealed to them, the person is more likely to perceive life’s situations differently, and therefore, choose a Christ like response (Crabb, 1977).

The Bible makes it clear that God’s way of living life brings health and wellness to individuals. Scripture says that “The fear of the Lord adds length to life, but the years of the wicked are cut short” (NIV, Proverbs10:27). Conceptualizing Illness – Psychological and Spiritual (. 5) Likewise, Scripture also makes it clear that a life lived independently of Christ and obedience to his word results in sorrow, failure, hopelessness, and even depression. David said in Psalms, “Indeed, my life is consumed with grief and my years with groaning; my strength has failed because of my sinfulness, and my bones waste away” (NIV, Psalm 31:10).

Furthermore, Scripture makes it clear that unconfessed sin and a life of disobedience can cause distress and failure to the physical body. According to Psalm 32:3, David said, “When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long (NIV). While a person’s sinful nature can cause both spiritual and psychological distress, the sins from others can also cause distress and pain, often beginning in childhood. When a caretaker places and exuberant amount of pressure on a child to become perfect, often the child develops an intense sense of shame that becomes binding.

Likewise, when there is a misunderstanding of Scripture that is directed toward the child, this becomes damaging to a child and intensifies problems as they become adults (Wilson, 2001). Wilson (2001) asserts in the book, Hurt People Hurt People, that woundedness is at the core of essentially all maladaptive adult behaviors, and many times, unhealthy thoughts and behaviors begin during childhood. Backus and Chapian (2000) said that “Disbeliefs are the direct cause of emotional turmoil, maladaptive behavior, and most so-called mental illness” (p. 17). Role of Integration and Multitasking (. ) It is important that the development of a theory reflect the ability to integrate psychology and Christianity and the ability to multi-task. Multitasking requires that the counselor be able to view “a person’s problems from several different perspectives at the same time” (Hawkins, 2010). For example, multitasking would be the counselor’s ability to shift between various methods and techniques as they relate to psychology, theology, and spirituality, while not losing sight of the issue that’s being presented and also being attentive to the client (Hawkins, 2010).

For instance, if a client presents an unhealthy habit that they cannot break, the counselor may multi-task between cognitive therapy techniques and supporting scriptures, while being attentive to the client’s thoughts, feelings, and body language. Nonetheless, it is important to remember that while multi-tasking remaining in the moment with the client is imperative (Hawkins, 2010). How to Source Problems and Structure Effective Intervention Key Elements of Theory (. 5) According to Crabb (1977), anyone can change their emotions by simply changing their thoughts.

Crabb (1977) theorizes that an individual’s emotional state is a direct result of their perception of a situation, or an event in their conscious mind, based on beliefs in the unconscious mind. Crabb (1977) further asserts that an individual’s emotions can change, if their basic assumptions change. However, the critical question here is how does that happen? How does a person cross this drastic hurdle of implementing new patterns of thinking and developing new skills to process their emotions so that their behavior is different?

After careful consideration of the various counseling theories that have been explored throughout this course, as well as other courses up to this point, it is my belief that the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) approach integrated with Christianity is the theory that most closely aligns with my beliefs. I selected this theoretical orientation for two primary reasons: first, CBT offers a systematic approach whereby clients can evaluate their thoughts to etermine if they are true and readjust when necessary; and secondly, if it is determined that thoughts need to be readjusted, CBT offers a plethora of techniques to shift the client from distorted views about themselves, others, situations, and their world in general (Murdock, 2009). The integration of Scripture with CBT is further explained in the following section. Process and Technique (. 5) Scripture says that “The purposes of a man’s heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out” (Proverbs 20:5, NIV).

Therefore, the counselor must spend time with the client to explore these areas of challenge and to determine the source of wounds, imbalances, disbeliefs, or even areas where there is sin. If there is sin, the counselor may need to work through the process of repentance and forgiveness (Hawkins, 2010). In addition to Scripture, Backus and Chapian (2000) identify three elementary steps that they challenge clients to implement that are life transforming and can be used in any situation. First, the client must simply pay attention to every thought; don’t just let random thoughts become mentally consuming.

Secondly, the client must challenge and argue with thoughts to determine whether or not they are valid. Lastly, they say if the thoughts are not truthful then discount them and replace them with truth. Backus and Chapian’s (2000) theory is closely aligned with the CBT approach in that it also tackles the thought patterns and distortions to replace them with new ones. Where Backus and Chapian (2000) provide a process, CBT provides necessary tools to move a person through this process and help them to develop a new and healthy thought life.

For example, if a person interviewed for a job and did not get the job, they might tell themselves that they are stupid and useless. As with Backus and Chapian’s approach (2000), the CBT approach would test the validity of this thought by asking the client to look at the objective evidence for and against a thought and come up with a more balanced thought (Murdock, 2009). This is another area where I believe the integration of Scripture is necessary. The Bible is an imperative foundation for teaching the client truthful thoughts versus old patterns of thinking that cause distorted views of themselves, people, and situations.

Expectations of Effectiveness (. 5) Scripture says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV). When we bring our thoughts into alignment with those in God’s word, God will give us a prosperous end result, even if the beginning is difficult and fearful. I believe fear can often prevent us from plowing through this difficult period. As Wilson (2011) asserts, these distorted views and unhealthy thoughts have in many ways served to protect us during childhood, and many of these old patterns have been carried over into adulthood.

Scripture tells us to “Put away childish things……” (1 Corinthians 13:1, NIV). This “putting away” essentially means to do away with unhealthy beliefs, actions, and words that once served as a wall of protection (Wilson, 2011). Once a person becomes freed from these negative thoughts and behaviors, they will also be freed from depression, fear, self-hate, anxiety, and many other damaging emotions so that they can live out the prosperous life that Christ called them to live (Backus & Chapian, 2000). How does my Worldview influence my Theory? Theoretical Considerations and Worldview Dimensions (. 5)

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy primarily believes that in order for a person to live a healthy lifestyle, they must change their way of thinking. They must analyze their thoughts and then validate them, using a systematic process. If it is discovered that these thoughts are untruthful, distorted, or negative, then the person is encouraged to replace them with thoughts that are true (Murdock, 2009). This theory is very closely paralleled with scripture, since Scripture exhorts us, as believers, to take every thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:5, NIV) and to set our minds on things that are pure and true (Philippians 4:8, NIV).

This sounds so simple, and sometimes it is simple; however, oftentimes, I have found this to be very difficult, especially when I am faced with thinking pure and true thoughts about someone who has wounded me deeply. This is the point where I believe that counseling only provides a lasting transformation when it is integrated with power of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, in order to facilitate lasting positive changes in the lives of my future clients, I believe that Adams (1986) four interrelated components of counseling are necessary.

These consist of “the Spirit, the counselor, the counselee, and the Bible” (p. 44). With this combination of psychology and Christianity, I believe that it is possible to demolish arguments and every pretension that tries to exalt itself against the knowledge of God. I believe that every thought can be taken captive so that it becomes obedient to Christ as stated in 2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV). Approach to Integration (. 5) “Spoiling the Egyptians” (Crabb, 1977, p. 171) is an approach that references Mosses leading the Israelites from the land of Egypt.

The Israelites took numerous items from the Egyptians to help them and support them on their journey to the Promised Land; however, there were also a number of items that were left behind because they were corrupt. This approach to counseling integration borrows some methods, techniques, and tools from psychology and integrates them with Christian counseling. However, there is one caveat and that is only if the borrowed items align with the truth that is found in Scripture (Crabb, 1977).

If it does not, then much like the Israelites had to leave items behind in Egypt, Christian counselors must leave these items to secular counseling. A Christian counselor must examine how closely a theory aligns with Christian beliefs and then make a determination if this theory will be used as part of the counseling practice (O’Hare, 1991). Conclusion (. 5) In conclusion, it is my personal belief, based on scripture, that each person was created uniquely by God and in his image. Even though each person is unique, everyone encounters issues relating to relationships, situations, and our environment.

According to Wilson (2001) many of these problems began as children due to an attempt to protect ourselves from the hurt and pain inflicted on us by other hurting people, primarily our caretakers. As adults, individuals often suffer in our relationships, our work, and our health (both mentally and physically) due to unhealthy protective walls that we have erected. In order for these walls to come down, a person must learn new skills, new tools, and new patterns of thinking. This requires taking thoughts captive, analyzing those thoughts, and then if necessary, replacing them with truth.

Given that we live in a distorted world with distorted views, often, the only place to find pure truth is in scripture. However, if theories and techniques are found outside scripture, they must be validated against the Bible and tweaked when necessary. This was the primary reason that I selected the CBT approach. This approach aligns with scripture on numerous levels, and the areas that do not must be dismissed. It is my believe that with the integration of Biblical and psychological truths, life changing transformation can take place in the life of a person.

References Adams, J. E. (2009). How to help people change. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. Anderson, N. T. (2006). The bondage breaker. Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers. Backus, W. D. , & Chapian, M. (2000). Telling yourself the truth. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers. Cloud, H. , & Townsend, J. (1999). Boundaries in marriage. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. Crabb, L. J. (1986). Effective biblical counseling: A model for helping caring Christians become capable counselors. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. Hart, A. D. 2001). The anxiety cure. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson. O’Hare, C. (1991). The Basics of Counseling Theories and How to Critique a Counseling Theory from a Christian Perspective [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from http://www. liberty. edu Murdock, N. L. (2009). Theories of counseling and psychotherapy: A case approach (2nd ed. ). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall. Wilson, S. D. (2001). Hurt people hurt people: Hope and healing for yourself and your relationships. Grand Rapids, MI: Discovery House Publishers. [pic][pic]

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